Having recently survived Valentine’s Day and the marketing melee of Fifty Shades of Grey, it seems like the whole world has been trying to sell us lingerie lately. Whilst I do love a well-fitting bra in a beautiful fabric (particularly if it’s affordable enough in my awkward bra size that my budget will still stretch for the matching undies), beautiful lingerie isn’t actually my number one choice when it comes to feeling sexy. I’d like to clarify at this stage that I am not putting down lingerie — I’m a strong advocate of people wearing whatever the hell they want and the wearing of lingerie can be seen as a feminist act, as a way of owning your sexuality (as Bustle's own Freyia Lilian Porteous explains beautifully). But when I want to feel really beautiful, it’s all about a comfy t-shirt and a pair of undies — preferably big ones.
I’ve always been a fan of the humble t-shirt. It’s a blank canvas upon which you can make whatever statement you like, or simply just a really comfortable garment to throw on whenever you feel like it. Dress it up, dress it down, sleep in it, whatever. Your t-shirt will always love you back. Especially when you find a particularly soft one, which fits "just right," like a cotton cuddle — but not too tight a cuddle.
It wasn’t until I spent a few months living on my own that I realized how much I loved this simple combination. Having an apartment to myself gave me the chance to draw the blinds and hang out with my legs out. I have a theory that maybe the reason I now love having bare legs in private is because I spent all of my teen years hating my legs and avoiding showing them off. My school friends wore skirts and I wore the specified style and brand of school uniform trousers — which happen to be the most strange and unflattering shape of trousers I have ever known. I don’t know why I hated my legs; I probably didn’t even know then. Perhaps it was just something I absentmindedly picked up from the body-hating culture we live in. It’s only recently that I have begun to appreciate my body and perhaps this is my way of reclaiming those years of self-hatred.
My love for the t-shirt and underwear combo is really just about comfort and the journey to self love. I struggled for a long time with hating myself and with wearing things that were "supposed" to be sexy in a vain attempt to make myself believe that I was. It never worked. Despite having a long term partner who insisted he found me attractive, I never believed it. It turns out — for me personally — that making an effort to be sexy ended up making me feel worse in the long run. I ended up feeling like I couldn’t be sexy and be myself at the same time. I was dressing up — disguising myself as something else. I was only acting. (This is just my personal experience and not something I believe applies to everyone who dresses up for themselves or for their partner. If that’s what you’re into, you should go for it! Enjoy!)
Whilst it feels a bit sad and un-feminist to admit it, it was my current partner who finally made me feel good enough in my own skin. This surprised me because I’ve always thought that long-term happiness and self love come from within yourself but, for me, it came from the Prince Charming I didn’t even know I was waiting for (who will no doubt cringe reading this article).
Having a partner who finds me irresistible and makes me genuinely believe that I am beautiful, regardless of what I’m wearing, is the best thing that’s ever happened to my self esteem. Knowing he’ll make me feel the same way whether I’m wearing my favorite Ramones t-shirt and a pair of novelty underpants or a beautiful babydoll has made me realize that I spent so much time being wrong: I don’t have to make an effort to be sexy, but if I want to once in a while, that’s cool too. It’s no big deal either way. I’m still the same person with the same body, however I choose to dress (or undress) it.
I love the softness of my favorite t-shirt on my skin — the way it clings slightly across my chest and skims over the belly I haven’t quite gotten around to loving (yet). The way turning up the sleeves a little makes me feel weirdly empowered (maybe so I can imagine I’m a little bit muscular? Or maybe it’s a subtle Rosie the Riveter influence) and the print design gives out a message about who I am and what I like. Above all, I love the way it’s effortless. It’s just me. Nothing makes me feel more beautiful than knowing I am good enough and that I don’t even need to try.
That’s the secret, ladies — you are good enough. You shouldn’t need a partner, a fancy basque or even a favorite t-shirt to tell you that. You should tell yourself that. Every day if you want to. In a world where entire industries are built on our insecurities, telling yourself you are good enough is a revolutionary statement but an increasingly necessary one.
Here's a thought: Perhaps we should print, "YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH," on our next slogan tee. I'm down.