Does Body Positive Lingerie Make You Feel Sexier?

by Jodie Layne

Body positivity hasn't quite infiltrated every single corner of the world yet, but it's getting harder and harder to avoid the fact that it's becoming all the rage in one of the industries you'd least expect: Lingerie. Indie brand Neon Moon, for instance, raised eyebrows and raked in the cash this spring during its crowd funding campaign for a line of body positive lingerie. And it would seem that the practice is something that's long overdue. The undergarment industry has, for too long, relied on body shaming tactics and hyper-feminization, which does make me wonder: Can body posi lingerie be sexy, too? OK, forgive the corny Millennial Carrie Bradshaw vibe of that question. But it does remain valid.

We've become so used to lingerie pushing everything in, up, and out to give our silhouettes the shapes that we so desire (or, more accurately, are told we should desire). So would lingerie that enhanced — not hid — the body's natural shape cut it when being worn during a sexy situation?

I admit, that's kind of a trick question. Of course a body's natural shape is attractive, sexy, and desirable just the way it is! Of course our partners will be, and should be, down to appreciate the natural beauty of our body the way it is, and no matter what we're wearing. If they don't, you have my permission to kick them straight to the curb or pack your bags and walk. No one deserves to be with someone who requires them to wear five layers of shapewear, spandex, and lace to be considered a babe.

All of this doesn't mean that even the body positive among us don't still struggle with an idealized idea of what sexy is, or the way that we're supposed to want to feel when stripping down. While I would consider myself to be extremely body positive, what I would consider my really sexy lingerie is of the typical suck 'em in and push 'em up variety. Of course, part of this is personal preference and taste, but the, "Enhance your 'best' assets and hide everything else," message is hard to shake. We've become accepting of bodies that look different ways and we're willing to see them as sexy — as long as they still conform to our singular idea of what sexy looks like.

One thing that most advertisers and "body positive" lingerie campaigns, like Lane Bryant's #ImNoAngel or Addition Elle's #IAmSizeSexy campaigns, all still do is put traditional lingerie on different sized bodies and call it a day. Body positive lingerie is about more than that, though. It's about being able to feel comfortable and confident, seeing the beauty and sensuality of your own body no matter what you're wearing or what you like to wear. Or not, if sex isn't something that's happening for you. It's about making room for varied gender expression. It makes room for people who are asexual or who aren't having sex right now to feel cute at the end of the day with no subtext. We're not quite there yet, are we? I don't know if I'm quite there yet either.

So, the experiment: Wear some body posi underwear! I was looking for something that wouldn't inherently change the shape of my body, that came in plus sizes (obvi), something that I liked the look of, and something that was comfy and in a color not normally associated with "sexy time" (i.e. black or red). Body positive plus size lingerie company Hips & Curves had just the ticket with the Savoir Faire bralette and panties. I wanted to wear the set on my own and see if it inspired any solo love — and also get the feedback of my partner on the set, especially since my usual "sexy" lingerie is so different.

As soon as the package arrived, I ripped it open and threw the set on. It was just as comfy and stretchy as I hoped it would be and I felt adorable in it: Like I do in the cotton slip and robe I usually wear around the house. I couldn't stop catching glimpses of myself in the mirror and the novelty of having a plus size bralette was not lost on me. I actually kind of loved the shape my boobs took in it. When my boyfriend got home, I did a little twirl and his first question was, "When did your butt get so juicy?!" I guess all those vintage-rise undies I liked wearing were covering up my booty this whole time. "You look good, babe," he said. "I like that outfit, it's cute."

Did it inspire us to drop everything and have sex right there and then? No, but that's also just not our style. Did it make me feel sexy? Absolutely. In a bit of a different way, too. While I feel like "me" in most of the lingerie I wear, it's different to feel seen as you — whether it's by yourself or by someone else. There are many versions and visions of ourselves that we can express and sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in them, losing sight of the body and the person in it that we love and are so proud of. Sometimes it's good to take it back to basics, keep it simple, and fall in love with yourself again.

Images: Jodie Layne; Giphy