Scantily clad women posing on a bed with come hither eyes. Ultra push up bras that promise to add a full cup size. Airbrushed voluptuous bodies that promote one narrow definition of beauty. Sound familiar?
The intimate apparel industry has long relied on overtly sexual imagery but this is not what women today are looking for when buying bras and underwear.
What traditional intimate apparel brands do is sell the idea of sexy. That being sexy is the end all be all to achieve confidence. That by wearing their bras and underwear, you will be a better, sexier, more confident version of you. Sure, feeling sexy can lead to feeling more confident but what these brands fail to recognise is that those feelings come from within. It does not come from lace, push up bras or airbrushed models. These brands have simply lost touch with what women today want out of their bra buying experience - namely comfort, functionality, and representation.
The bra industry was already witnessing the shift towards the “comfort economy” prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and has only seen this trend accelerate further. Sales of sports bras, wireless bras and bralettes continue to grow while that of underwire and push up bras are decreasing. It should come to no surprise that millennials are the driving force behind this shift towards comfort over cleavage, and in tandem with Gen Zers, are rejecting the outdated definition of sexy. Today, values like diversity and authenticity are prioritized, and brands are even criticised for not embracing these values.
Sexy doesn’t mean what it once used to and it’s time that bra brands listen more closely to the very women they are targeting. A few images here and there and one or two campaigns featuring “real women” doesn’t cut it - it merely reflects a bandaid attempt that lacks commitment to adapting to the needs of women today. To oversexualize women is to reduce women to solely objects of desire and women today demand more from the brands they buy from - bra brands should certainly be no exception.