Why You Should Wear Lingerie, Even When Single

by Justin Robert Thomas Smith

Alright... well, it's that lovely time of year again — getting ever nearer to the day most dreaded by those of us who end up flying solo when it all goes down: St. Valentine's Day. February 14th is only a few weeks away, and now that it's already the end of January — "... 2014 who?" — heart-shaped edibles of various flavors (including these new [in my opinion] gross-looking red velvet Oreos) are most likely lining the shelves of your nearest convenience stores; reservations for two [or more, depending on the constellation in question] are being made to the fanciest of the fancy venues in town; you're probably being reminded of that one time back in third grade that Jessica gave everybody in your class a V. Day card except for you (OK, maybe that's actually just me...); and you keep awkwardly shuffling past that Victoria's Secret you pass by on your way to work while making limited to no eye contact. And that's probably because buying lingerie for Valentine's Day as somebody who's single is probably the penultimate thing on your mind. (It just barely beats "replying to that 'what's up sexii?' message on Tinder" for second-to-last place — I mean, we all know where that ship's headed, don't we?)

For those of you who are already involved in a romantic relationship: Good luck making the hard decisions (because, you know, introducing lingerie into the relationship via Valentine's Day gift isn't always the right choice). But I'm here to tell those of you who aren't — myself included [sad emoji] — why you should still go out and buy that sexy piece of lingerie for yourself, even if you're single. Especially if you're single. Because you don't need a lover to love lingerie. And also because if Valentine's Day is supposed to be the "day of love," then why not take that day to make sure you love yourself? And keeping that question in mind, here's the first reason you should wear lingerie this V. Day:


Everyone should set aside that personal time to find one or two special pieces of [barely any] clothing that make them feel sexy — even if it's so that you can just put it on, look in the mirror and go, "Damn, I look good!" (And then lay right back down on your bed and resume watching Netflix and eating Nutella... which I may or may not be guilty of myself...) It's so important to find as many ways as possible for us to show ourselves love, and if we're single, why shouldn't we take all the love we would be showering on our significant other(s) and instead shower ourselves with it. Just think about it like this: Shopping for lingerie isn't actually about the lingerie. It's about dedicating the time to maintain a level of comfort with your own body, and having the confidence to show that comfort off if you feel the urge. Which brings us to the next reason:


I couldn't help but use this gorgeous photo from Dove's Campaign For Real Beauty some years back — it's importance in the realm of beauty standards over the past ten years is, of course, controversially received. Some believe that Dove created a campaign that could begin to deconstruct the indoctrination of body shaming so prevalent in our cultural behavior, while others claim that the real conversation we need to be having is absent: That women shouldn't be judging themselves and others singularly on aspects of physical appearance — that there should be more to a woman than just her beauty, whether it claims to be "real" or not.

Though while it may not solve the entire [extremely complex] issue at hand, a positive body image sure isn't hurting anyone, and that's exactly where lingerie comes in. If you can be positive enough with your own body to allow yourself the pleasure of searching for and eventually finding that perfect piece of lingerie that hugs you in all the right places and shows just as much or as little as you want to show — that piece of lingerie that subtly reflects your sexual personality and looks good on you — then we can at least say that we've won the battle for our physical body, even if it's not nearly the end of the [very real] war on women. Reclaiming lingerie as a source of body empowerment instead of self-objectification is just one way to change the tides of that war, taking us directly to our third reason...


... Because you don't have to let media culture dictate the perception you have of your own body. Yes, the media and fashion industries have the ability to influence your standards of beauty, and they are already working systematically against you. But you have the power to reclaim, and that means that anything you choose to do in this terribly insular patriarchal society is by default an act of feminist reclamation. In that way, even wearing lingerie so often seen merely as the self-propelled objectification of the female body — can be an act of feminism. Freyia Lilian Porteous, a recent addition to the Bustle team and a talented lingerie designer herself, had a few words to say on the intersection of fashion and feminism in her very first article:

"It’s so easy to tar lingerie with the classic “objectification” brush. But I feel that is more a question of comfort, perception, confidence and taste. Wearing lingerie, you should be able to love that it makes you feel amazing — on your own terms. Yes, it presents your self as an image to look at, but you are choosing to be looked at. You are looking at yourself being looked at, and in a place of personal comfort. This is thrilling and empowering."

(And you should definitely check out her up-and-coming lingerie company Flimsymoon if you think dreams, embroidery, and self-love go well together.)


Thus, we come to what I believe is one of the most important reason I have: Understanding yourself as a sexual being. In a Ted Talk on feminism by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie back in 2013, one which was sampled in that Beyoncé surprise visual album (you know, the one we all watched ten times from start to finish and still couldn't get enough of — yup, that one), Adichie touched upon the subject of sexual self-understanding as it relates to female empowerment. She says that too many girls "grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form," but I want to include everyone in this, because in a culture so bent on sexual repression, we need all the self-exploration we can get. And Valentine's Day can and should become just that: A day where you celebrate the love you have with your sexual self, a time for exploring and appreciating the sexual being you are, finding out what that means for you. And then the day after it can act as both the fifth reason and second time you wear that sexy new piece of lingerie waiting for you in your secret drawer:


Yes, S.A.D., as in "Singles Awareness Day" — or as I like to think of it: "Singles Appreciation Day." Whether or not it's supposed to be a humorous holiday, I think it has just as much validity as [if not more than] the overly commodified Valentine's Day of present, a holiday that [fyi] only became associated with romance and love through the writings of 14th century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries. But February 15th shouldn't be a day spent sulking in muted communal depression while commiserating our single status — why give all the people out there blessed with reciprocal love the satisfaction? No, no, no. I say we party: Have a little get-together at someone's place and celebrate ourselves with only our lingerie on... ravish in all of our body empowerment and self-love, give the hashtag #whatafeministlookslike some more ammo to work with. (And just to be inclusive, we'll even open the invitation to people who aren't single — you know, because they should be able to celebrate what once was.)

Single or not, buying and/or wearing lingerie doesn't have to translate into immediate anxiety; we do have the power to change at least that — a power which Diana Oh [pictured above] utilized by showing all of Times Square what a feminist looks like this past summer with her powerful social project {My Lingerie Play}. But if these reasons weren't enough to make buying lingerie seem a bit more bearable this time around, then here are nine more reasons to be happy being single on Valentine's Day without it (courtesy of the one and only wikiHow, graceful giver of all necessary life hacks since 2005) — though I'm pretty sure that a lingerie sleepover/pillow fight party (like this huge one that happened in NYC five years ago) with my baes is how I'm gonna be spending my S.A.D. And yes, you can be invited, too. Duh.

Images: Tumblr/reactionsimages; Tumblr/crayonsinboxes; Dove;