Blog post written by Jasmine Hirtz for Ebony & Ivory Lingerie
Women have been fighting for freedom since forever and a symbol that has been along for the ride is the bra. There is historical proof that when women’s rights shift, the lingerie industry shifts too. There are examples of this dating back to the beginning of time but for efficiency’s sake, let’s begin around the time when women were fighting for the right to vote.
The suffrage movement was front-page news for decades in the West, happening heavily at the beginning of the 20th century. Women needed the right to vote and took drastic measures to get it. In 1913 in England, Emily Davison jumped in front of the King’s horse in protest and died for the cause a few days later, her efforts never to be forgotten. Voting rights were given to women in 31 countries between the years 1900-1920, women celebrated by taking their corsets off and letting the roaring ‘20s take over. Chest-flattening bandeau bras became the trend and women traded in the hourglass figure for boxy and freeing flapper dresses.
In 1968, protesters gathered outside the Miss America pageant to speak up against the establishment’s narrow-minded idea of beauty. Between the pageant’s inception in 1921 and the protest in 1968, there had never been a woman of colour crowned a winner which sold a narrative that white was best. On top of being white, the judges were also looking for a particular personality, a particular body type, and women outside of the pageant were done with being compared to these standards. One protester took off her bra and put it in the ‘trash can of freedom’, inspiring a journalist to refer to the crowd as ‘bra-burning feminists’. The bra being a symbol of oppression, people were eager to applaud its removal.
A perfect example of lingerie being connected with a protest for women’s rights happened recently, in 2018. Edward Razek made a statement to Vogue about transgendered and plus-sized models not fitting into the Victoria’s Secret fantasy. Their audience heard this and then boycotted the annual fashion show, causing such a ripple effect that the brand hasn’t aired a show since. Once again, the idea of beauty was too narrow, and women spoke up against being compared to these standards.
Here at Ebony & Ivory, we are doing things a little differently, to not compare women with any other - one body being Small and another being Large – we thought we would compare a woman’s body to the size of a country. When considering what could possibly be used to empower a woman to fill the room with her strength, her entire body and mind, the decision was made. Bras will be sold in a size range compared to African countries and panties will be sold in sizes compared to regions in the Caribbean.
It’s clear now that women don’t want to fit themselves into any single standard, women want to be respected for who they are. With this shift towards diversity in what a woman can be, the lingerie industry is going through a definite shift as well and at Ebony & Ivory, we are happy to be a part of it.