Where should women buy their lingerie
Why wearing lingerie can be a feminist act: In conversation with Marlies Dekkers
It comes over me every two or three years. Then I storm into town and finally buy some nice underwear again. Not the one that I wear and love every day and that is one thing above all - comfortable - but underwear that somehow looks a bit nicer. Which nobody sees except me, but which makes me feel good. Because I feel good in my body and want to show myself a little. In moments like this, I get annoyed that I don't wear beautiful underwear much more often. Because it really doesn't need an occasion. It's enough that I feel good and somehow want to radiate it.
Our socialization through media and films still tells us women: Buy new underwear when you've met a new man. Or if you want to be particularly convincing on a date. Or you want to surprise a man. Or the New Year's Eve should be particularly exciting. Do you find the mistake?
Above all, we should wear underwear for ourselves. Because it makes us feel good and is the first thing we wear every day. It can be the comfortable cotton bra, or the lace piece that seems to have come from a Hollywood movie. It doesn't matter how we define sexy and beautiful, the main thing is that we wear these lingerie just for ourselves. When we feel good and our partner is also happy about beautiful lingerie: win win. For him alone we shouldn't force ourselves into anything that we don't feel.
Lingerie designer Marlies Dekkers sees it similarly. She is committed to ensuring that women discover beautiful underwear above all for themselves. To celebrate her body and embrace her femininity. But does it work? Because no other fashion is so fixated on staging women for men as hers. Marlies Dekkers says: Yes, but there is still a long way to go.
We spoke to the Dutch designer about why beautiful underwear and feminism are not mutually exclusive, why our body image is often cranky and why crises strengthen us.
This is a question that I actually get asked a lot. The "problem" is not the lingerie itself, but our definition of feminism or a feminist. For me, being a feminist means that I stand up for social, political and economic equality for both sexes. To achieve this, previous feminists in particular cut off all of their femininity, for example by cutting their hair and burning their bras. Thank God that is no longer the case today. Wearing high heels, lipstick or beautiful lingerie doesn't make us worse feminists. I also like to use the term “feminine feminist”: We can stand alongside men on an equal footing while celebrating our feminine side at the same time.
Incidentally, this question also ties in with another important point: the lingerie industry still has a long way to go. It has always fascinated me personally: We have a product here that is designed for women so that men will please them. In photo shoots, women are wrapped up like beautiful candy and draped in a bedroom as if their only job in life is to wait for their husbands. I design lingerie from a feminist approach: I want women to (re) discover themselves and how they see themselves.
And that is exactly what drives me: my lingerie should frame the wearer's beauty and make her stand out with confidence.
A good point. What does beautiful underwear do to us?
Underwear is the first thing we wear in the morning. What better way to start the day than to see yourself in the mirror and be reminded how beautiful you are? Nice underwear can give us a self-confidence boost that can last all day. With this self-confidence you can get through every challenge of the day.
So why should women * wear your lingerie?
I dream that every woman feels beautiful and strong every day. And with my laundry I try to do my part. I want the women who wear my fashion to feel confident and beautiful. Beauty and comfort are not mutually exclusive: I use extra special padding in the cup, the best fabrics and the strongest straps so that my underwear is as comfortable as possible.
Inclusivity and body positivity are important topics for you and your label: How difficult is it as a brand today to satisfy the needs of all customers and their bodies?
In an ideal world I would do laundry for every single woman, but to be honest: It takes a lot of time and money. Every time I create a design in a different size, I have to redesign the whole shape. A woman with a 70B body has different demands on a bra than a woman with an 85F. We try to accommodate the different bodies of women with wider straps, larger cup sizes and extra padding, but we cannot accommodate every size due to cost reasons. Nevertheless, we are proud to be able to offer a size range from 70A to 85G.
What would you say to women who are unsure about showing off in sexy underwear?
Feeling strong and sexy is a feeling that every woman experiences differently. Some feel super comfortable in their bare skin, others only when they are more covered. But I promise you, knowing what you are wearing underneath, you will feel a little better in a thick turtleneck sweater. So I would tell her: First try out nice underwear for yourself and see what happens.
"Learning to love your body is a challenge" is written on an Instagram post on your Instagram account. How did you learn to love your body?
The post is a quote from a woman who got over breast cancer and had a mastectomy. She encouraged other women that it is worthwhile to accept the new body and its changes despite all the challenges. Because if we are honest: as long as we are healthy, it is easy to love your own body. Of course it is made difficult for us, because we all strive for that “perfect body” that the media has been suggesting to us for far too long. Would we describe a tree as too heavy, too big, or too thin? No! Then why do we do this to us humans? Since I realized that, I see my body in a different light. I am unique and that is what makes me beautiful!
Would we describe a tree as too heavy, too big, or too thin? No! Then why do we do this to us humans?
And how did your underwear support this self-love process?
I've changed the way I look at my body, even when I wear nice lingerie. And I wanted to make that possible for other women with my underwear. My lingerie should underline the beauty of every woman and also highlight the uniqueness of the female body. I want women to look at each other in the mirror and say, "Wow, that's me?"
Do you have any advice for young women who are still struggling to accept their bodies for what they are?
Start inside. Stop comparing yourself to others or constantly criticizing yourself. Instead, focus on yourself and celebrate your unique beauty - outside and inside. Only make decisions that support your self-confidence and make you feel good. And at some point, one day, on the journey of inner growth, you look in the mirror and discover the love of your life: you!
Stop comparing yourself to others or constantly criticizing yourself. Instead, focus on yourself and
celebrate your unique beauty
2020 is the year of crises - especially for many labels and shops. Nothing new for marlies | dekkers: Your label went bankrupt in 2013. But: Today the brand is one of the most successful lingerie labels in the world. How did you find the courage and the confidence to continue to believe in yourself and to start all over again after 2013?
I never gave up. My motto is “Dare to dream, dare to grow, and dare to be present”, which in my opinion is a good 3-step plan for us women to develop our potential. First you have to find out your deepest desires and craziest dreams, no matter what your family, partner or society thinks about them. Dare to hold on to your dreams. Next you have to see how you can make your dreams come true. This is all about growth, further training and sometimes also about making sacrifices for your own dream. And at some point on the long journey you realize: my dream is slowly coming true. It was worth using all of your own strength to fulfill your own wish. And then you are. Then nothing can stop you. And that's exactly what I've proven to myself. It wasn't always easy, there are challenges and sometimes you lose heart. But it is important that only you are responsible for your dreams. Only you have it in your hand.
You said nice. Do you also believe that personal and business crises offer opportunities?
Crises often give way to change and growth. You are suddenly forced to find out what you can really do - and then very often great things happen!
And a final question: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I get inspiration from my personal muses: These are women who show how strong the female power is. For example Amelia Earheart, the fearless pilot who crossed the Atlantic alone in 1932 and proved that there are no limits for women. Or crime writer Agatha Christi, who gave women a strong and multidimensional role in her books, unlike many other authors. And for the next season I have chosen a very special muse - a woman who has inspired me to embrace my weaknesses too. So much can be revealed: She was the Queen of Egypt, but I like to call her the Comeback Queen.
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