I love the Neon Moon lingerie ads. It's refreshing to see women with body hair, fat folds, cellulite - women that look like me, like they haven't spent eight hours in hair and makeup. And it's not just their bodies that are realistic, the positions look authentic- chatting to a friend, flipping through a book. It's certainly true that my lingerie is mostly seen by my flatmate as I'm running around looking for my favourite T-shirt or hula hooping in my pants to Billy Joel. Well done, Neon Moon.
I also agree with Neon Moon's founder, Hayat Rachi that "it's important for girls to not compare themselves to unachievable standards of 'beauty'" and I can see how their ads work toward this goal. Again, I'm on board.
But what the fuck is feminist lingerie? Because that's what Neon Moon is billed as and I'm baffled. Do the soft bamboo fibres somehow mean I get paid 20% more to match my male colleagues? No, apparently it's because they're comfortable and fit a woman's body and its fluctuations - like, you know, all underwear you buy in the correct size. I don't mean to be snappy- I've written about problems with the "feminist" label before but now it's being used to sell a product, a really personal product, and I'm pissed off. As far as lingerie goes I tend to go with the ever-sexy choice of stretched out comfy boy-shorts from the dregs of an M&S five-pack, but if I decided to wear a push-up bra and thong made of nothing but diamonds and condoms it would still be feminist underwear. My lingerie is feminist because a feminist is wearing it.
Comfortable, non-wired bras and underwear are nothing new and giving it the "feminist" label is at the very least a tacit judgement on women that get a confidence boost from a push-up (or only feel comfortable with an underwire) if not an exploitive marketing door we just don't need to open. 'If you're a feminist you'll buy this underwear'- what's next? Feminist tampons? Why stop at women's products - feminist bottled water anyone? Bridget Christie did the amazing, award-winning show A Bic For Her about how ridiculous it is that products are marketed as women-specific to make more money. Well marketing them as 'feminist' is just as ludicrous with an added splash of judgmental. Oh, and over a size 14? Then you can't help but be a slave to the patriarchy because feminist lingerie isn't available in your size. Yes, they do say they want to expand their line in the future- but what message are you sending rolling out a product with a feminist label that isn't even suitable for a huge portion of the female population?
Neon Moon's body-positive, un-photoshopped ads are great. I love them. But we need to stop throwing around the word 'feminist' as some sort of watered-down synonym for 'good-for-women-in-some-way-ish'. And we really need to think before slap it on products. It's a word that's not meant to divide people and as soon as it's applied to something you can purchase it becomes exactly that - between those that choose to buy it or not, between those that can buy it or not. The "feminist lingerie" idea might be eye-catching, but it's a gimmick with the price of women feeling or looking like less of feminist because they can't, or don't, buy your underwear. It's not worth it.