What do lingerie brands stand for? At the heart, lingerie is all about beauty. Beautiful fabrics, beautiful styles, beautiful textures and colours. The people who design and handcraft elegant intimate apparel live for beauty. It’s in our blood. Its our passion. We take beauty and send it out into the world. We make it into something you can put in a box and give to your beloved, like a personal, intimate gift that shows the recipient that they are loved.

  So we’re well positioned to see the standards of beauty set by society all around us. TV, film and advertising are full of women who look a certain way. Right now that look suggest an idealised body is slim, with exaggerated curviness on a narrow waist, a fake tan and full lips. The Internet and social media has taken those images into the phones of people everywhere, and young women especially are subjected to a torrent of unrealistic beauty ideals that sneak into their lives more and more. Instagram influencers use face-tuning software to present a specific sort of beauty, and celebrities secretly go under the knife to change the shape of their bodies but pretend that it’s natural. It’s increasingly tough to escape that particular vision of manufactured perfection.

  So many lingerie brands try to turn a profit from unrealistic beauty standards. Aspirational brands paint a picture of perfect angels with exclusive catwalk shows and lush catalogs full of airbrushed models. They promise their customers that the purchase of a bra or negligee they too can have all the glamour and sexiness of a catwalk model. It’s never mentioned that even the models themselves don’t look like those photos -  the prints are digitally altered before publication to narrow waists and plump breasts. What’s left is a look book that is unrealistic in every sense of the word.

  It messes with our self image and the self esteem of women in particular. This restrictive body image of women is damaging. When we only see one type of beauty, it’s easy to start measuring oneself against it. It can make people, especially young women, unhappy with themselves. Some turn to unhealthy and restrictive diets, or punishing gym regimes, to try and achieve a body that can only be produced in a computer editing suite. Others simply try to hide their bodies away because they don’t meet that standard. It creates unhappiness, a long lasting inferiority complex that can persist throughout life.  They may be unrealistic beauty standards, but so often they are the only ones we see, and little time is given to talk about how they are the product of surgery, unhealthy diets and image editing software. They show us just one type of perfect, instead of all the different types of beautiful imperfection that make up the people of the world.

  It’s never been more important to challenge this false image of unattainable perfection. When brands include more diverse people in their catalogues and catwalk shows, it invites our customers to see themselves as magnificent and wonderful as they really are. Women are turning away from aspirational brands who promise them everything and deliver very little. By reflecting the truth that they are beautiful and wonderful just the way they are, it gives our customers a powerful tool break free from stereotypes around them. When we stop stereotyping beauty and make room to lift up all women, it makes them happier and more confident. It gives them permission to take care of their bodies, rather than strangling them with bad diets and short cuts like cigarettes and diet drugs. KAfemme has always believed in the power of that confidence. All the silk and lace in the world cannot compare to the power of a woman who is self confident and aware of her own grace, no matter how well she fits that mythic ideal woman body shape.

  Our beautiful fabrics shine on skin of all colours. Our elegant styles can be cut for bodies of all sizes and shapes. We enrich ourselves by bringing that natural beauty into our brand. It isn’t enough to just say that there is no perfect body and that appearances aren’t everything. We need to show that all bodies are perfect, just the way they are. Our bodies carry us through the sunlight, we feel them move when we laugh, they allow us to hold our friends and our family. They carry us to sleep and fight for us when we are sick or injured, they hold us through disability and offer us a home in this time and place. They did that for us when fat was in fashion and when it was considered stylish to be soft and pale as well as hard and tanned. They deserve to be celebrated, nourished and loved.

  Lingerie is all about beauty. Its the heart of what we do, and its the heart of everyone around us. There’s nothing to be gained by excluding any beautiful people just because they can’t fulfil an impossible standard. We have an opportunity to lift each other up, embrace our natural selves and show our bodies gratitude for the way they have held us. We can empower the women around us, giving them the confidence that they are so rightly owed. Improving diversity and rejecting unrealistic beauty standards only makes our lives better. It’s too good an opportunity to miss.

Anna Azarisu