The Love of Lingerie
In geography in year 10, my teacher asked the class to name different types of shop. I was a disgustingly arrogant upstart, desperate to prove her intelligence. So when everyone had done the ordinary shops, I said, with a superior sniff, “a lingerie shop, sir.”
Unfortunately, I pronounced it Linger- Ene, and my teacher laughed so hard his beard was dampened with dribbles of mirth.
Now, if you were Freud then you’d tell me my childhood trauma developed a complex, unhealthy obsession with lingerie in my adult life. Maybe. I certainly rage at blogs that think having a Mimi holiday is what illiterate Russian Oligarchs do in summer.
I’m also aware how pretentious that makes me sound. However, I cannot lie, I spend a lot of my time scanning, debating, evaluating (with references to three texts) and finally buying underwear.
I’ve been told that this makes me unfit to be a feminist. Frankly, the mutual exclusivity of lingerie and feminists is a myth. It’s normally touted by men who also think feminists cultivate sea urchins in their leg hair. So I’m not too worried about the charges.
But if I had to argue it, I’d say the entire point of feminism is to release women from repression. They can wear what they want. And I want to wear lingerie.
Plus, I like the freedom to wear daring, bizarre, challenging clothes. And that includes lingerie. It’s interesting to experiment with all the colour and shape available. I like to create separate personalities to try on. My favourite right now is a fiery ‘JLo meets Miami hooker’.
When I’m feeling low, I dress up as my alternative personality, right down to the underwear. It helps me feel fearless. Hooker JLo doesn’t give a shit what mothers on the bus say. So when I see buckles, shiny bits, straps, and leather part of me thinks…sod it, let’s do it. The bolder the better! The other part of me closes its eyes and has a cup of tea.
Now, am I choosing to wear lingerie to satisfy men’s desires for how women look?
No, no one ever sees it. For a long time, only me, my cat and Teddy knew what my undergarments were. I only got a boyfriend recently, and by then my habits were well formed.
I made the decisions on my underwear for me, and only me.
Furthermore, my lingerie habit is an extension of my love of high quality clothes.
I save up for nice jeans, teeshirts, dresses, make up… They make me feel better about myself. I care how I look; I’m disgustingly vain. But I need to let it out in a small, contained space (clothes) so I can monitor and restrict it. Otherwise it’ll take over and you’ll find me pouting into teaspoons and toasters.
This means I have high standards in all of my clothes – including lingerie.
High standard means a high price tag, but high standard also means it’ll last me until I’m old enough to go back to nappies. And because it’s worn constantly, the wear and quality of underwear is important.
I’ve been clubbing in cheap lace knickers. I’d rather have worn a sandpaper thong.
So I am fine with buying more expensive lingerie, as long as its good quality. It gives me the feeling that I am actually an organised, sophisticated, coffee drinking, organic yoghurt eating, X5 driving woman who knows what she’s doing.
After all, I have to maintain some illusion in life….