It's my job to market lingerie for a small brand. Because of this, and because of my interest in marketing and lingerie as two separate things, I'm particularly interested in how different brands use different campaigns.
One of the obvious (and irritating) points you see cropping up again and again is that lingerie is something to make men happy.
One of my favourite lingerie blogs, The Lingerie Lesbian, addresses this in a few of her articles, including "What It's Like To Be a Lesbian in the Lingerie Industry" and "What Lingerie Isn't About: Why I Hate Compulsory Femininity". I love her blog because it's a fresh viewpoint that I have NEVER seen before in the lingerie industry. I'm not a lesbian, but that doesn't even matter, what matters is that I'm reading an article about lingerie by a woman that is completely un-connected to men. And that's what we need more of.
Our society is plagued by self-confidence and body snark, and the way lingerie is being sold to us is just adding to this insecurity. I'm not talking about the models used (I think that my opinion as to why models are not to blame is a whole different post, but let's just say that people have an incredibly warped view of what size 0 is, and it IS rare to see a size 0 model) but the way they are used. Two particular things irritate me beyond belief:
1. Female sexuality as something that can only be harnessed (no pun intended) by men.
2. "Real Women" wear lingerie.
As The Lingerie Lesbian points out, homoeroticism is rife throughout lingerie campaigns. You constantly see women posed together in provocative situations, usually looking glassy-eyed or in the middle of a kitsch spanking-fest presumably meant to remind the viewer of Bettie Page. There is rarely a man in sight, but that's the whole point. The male viewer can easily imagine himself there.
There's shit like this, which makes my skin crawl so much that I can't watch it more than once.
Not only is the whole concept of this campaign borderline paedophilic (although the women are fully grown, the disturbing situation they are grinning through is, I assume, meant to encourage female viewers to reminisce on their childhood sleepovers), but it is also pure male-fantasy.
(also as an aside, which Alix Fox pointed out to me: "FRILLY'S" IS NOT CORRECT)
I dread to think what some of the men who create these adverts would do if they met a real life lesbian. Probably attempt to convert them with their manly charms, because there's no such thing as a woman that can resist manly charms.
What about another example? Here's an Agent Provocateur ad that also involves a woman preparing for what I can only assume is a date while only wearing her underwear. She then SUDDENLY decides to go outside, looking for her cat, in her underwear. Can you see where this is going?
OH NO THE DOOR CLOSED.
OH NO THERE IS A MAN, QUICK LET ME BE SEXY.
*gurn gurn gurn*
BOOM! PUSSY JOKE.
Watch the money roll in.
2. "Real Women" wear lingerie.
"Real Women", possibly my most hated phrase. Are you marketing lingerie or just the encouragement to bully other women? Those skinny girls that mocked you during high school, well men like meat, dogs like bones (or whatever that fucking pathetic phrase is, so pathetic that I would rather stab myself in the face than google it to find the correct saying).
The phrase "real women" should be banned from use. The joining of those two words should be illegal. Why? It's a lazy attempt at brand loyalty.
"Real women", yes you, with the stretch marks. Are you sick of seeing perfectly polished models with tiny stomachs? Well we CATER for REAL WOMEN, not those skinny ones, those absolutely vile skinny ones. Anyone who doesn't buy our bra obviously ISN'T a real woman. Men WANT real women, and REAL WOMEN wear cute lingerie. THAT'S WHAT REAL MEN WANT, REAL WOMEN.
Again, like The Lingerie Lesbian said, you can only be a woman if you wear nice underwear. And men only want real women.
The sexualisation of women in media and adverising is nothing new, and of course, lingerie IS all about feeling sexy. But it's not about encouraging men to buy lingerie with the assumption that doing so will transform their girlfriends/wives into their sex-slaves.