Anyone out there who has experienced a relationship knows, there are times when you have to enter intense negotiations…because the reality is no two human beings have exactly the same concept of recreational fun.
As hard as I tried to convince my fiancé to stay home, re-watch classic Marvel movies and eat great tasting snacks with no nutritional value, she suggested it would be best if we went outside to enjoy a rare commodity, known as sunshine and sometimes you’ve just gotta compromise.
Part of the day involved us rockin’ down to Boux Avenue, a women’s lingerie store. A wondrous, perfume-scented, immaculate, slightly “out of my comfort zone” retail experience…
Have you ever been in a situation so alien, you felt like a space explorer who had crash landed on a distant planet? Have you ever been in an environment so unfamiliar all you can do is observe the sights, sounds and smells of such sensationally, surreal surroundings?
We live in a world, where mainstream society desperately yearns to hold us in its loving embrace, and sooth our superficial insecurities. Telling us the conventional image of beauty embraces a range wider than legendary soul singer Patti LaBelle’s vocal ability.
Companies like Aerie (#AerieReal), JC Penny (#HereIAm), Always (#LikeAGirl) Dove (#ChooseBeautiful/#MyBeautyMySay) Nike (#BetterForIt) or Swedish company Monki (#Monkifeesto) have gone out of their way to promote diverse, realistic, three-dimensional representations of women; no matter the age, colour, shape or creed.
But what does any of that mean when I walk into a store and the social change happening outside is not reflected within? It’s a little odd to see mannequins that have physical proportions closer to that of a child than a fully developed woman; if that’s not enough you are also surrounded by images of women whose natural beauty has been subtlety injected with digital enhancements.
It’s totally cool to laugh at my naivety and say to yourself “Oh c’mon Ty! Get with the programme! This is a lingerie store, surely you realise the importance of fantasy, desire and escapism!?”
As a living, breathing comic book nerd I can tell you with great authority; no one appreciates the world of fiction more than I…but perhaps that’s the point? My favourite fictional characters function best within their fictional worlds. In the right context, it is totally believable that a grown man would fight crime in a bat suit, but the reality of that situation is ridiculous at best.
The world I move through tells me on a daily basis, not every woman is a Victoria Secret or Charlie’s Angel. It’s strange to me, that you can walk into a retail outlet that seduces its customers by playing on their insecurities while selling fantasy.
So who do we hold accountable for this?
The obvious candidates are the companies, consumers or society at large, but I don’t think anything I suggest will rock the lingerie industry to its core. Boux Avenue makes about £49.4 million annually…and to be fair…I don’t knock the company for using methods that work, the only responsibility they have is to make money and if images of unattainable perfection help to sell product…
It falls to us, the people, to understand that fantasy is just…err…fantasy and images of digitally enhanced perfection are not a part of our everyday physical world. I’m also not using this post as a weak guise to discredit women who naturally have the slender proportions high fashion celebrates and adores, because I have an appreciation and respect for all forms of the human body…but isn’t that the point?
Why not let the media that serves us so poorly hold up a mirror to our actual reality. If you happen to live in a part of the world where everyone is physically assimilated with a similar body type, flawless skin and perfect teeth…
But if you happen to live on planet Earth, why can’t we see a few more stretch marks and laughter lines on our mainstream models? Why can’t we experience a visual kaleidoscope of shape, colour and form? While there is no doubt social progress is being made; is it too much to ask that the reality I experience outside, is also reflected within?
The rainbow is more than a metaphor Dorothy used to get to Oz. If you’ve ever seen a rainbow you realise, they are universally loved because the properties of each colour provide contrast and harmony with the other colours. If on the 1984 disco classic, the Weather Girls demanded “Raining Men” It would be nice to walk into a retail space and witness the inclusive brilliance of a diverse “Rainbow of Women”
Until next time.
Illustration by Berlin based illustrator Frenzi. No copyright infringement intended.