I am pretty smart. And creative. And kinda funny, if only to myself. And on a good day, I think I’m cute. So, yeah, I’m pretty confident and my self-esteem is intact. But why do I have to be half-naked to prove all of that?
Have you noticed that all those campaigns to encourage women to be confident and love themselves and love their bodies involves women in their underwear? As if you only truly love yourself if you are comfortable standing around and being photographed in your lace panties and maybe a bra. Woman – let me hear your roar – in your panties. Isn’t there a little something wrong with this confident, strong message?
A quick survey of recent campaigns illustrates the trend.
For grown women: Underneath We Are Women by an Australian photographer & Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign
Both of these feature women of various sizes, ages, and races which is commendable for its “diversity.” The Dove campaign is supposed to convince us that you can be beautiful at any size. Yeah, okay, that’s true. But you can’t do that in a really cute dress? The Australian project has taglines such as “Underneath I am confident” – they do get credit for the play on words there. Again, they are women who have gone through various trials in their life and as proof that women can overcome – tada! Here they are in their cute lingerie.
And for the young ladies: Aerie – Real Girls – featuring wanna-be models but “real girls” who weren’t photoshopped as they pose laying all over the place in their lace lingerie for teens. This one bothers me a bit further because its directed to teens with the tagline “The Real You is Sexy.” Because that’s the message we’re really trying to emphasize to our teen girls who are trying to figure themselves out anyway. Not that the real you is smart or strong or has potential, but sexy. If you look like these size 0 girls.
The campaigns to embrace breastfeeding as a natural thing are no better. So after giving birth to this human being, struggling to even take a daily shower and obtaining your own nourishment, if you are doing breastfeeding right, you are stripped to your underwear or lounging in a flowing white filmy gown and tenderly looking at your bundle of baby or staring defiantly into space. This is what breastfeeding looks like? Well, I was really doing that wrong.
Now, lets be clear. I swim, so I do wear bathing suits, even bikinis on a non-chocolate cake day, and I play tennis, mini-skirt and all. I wear these outfits and full length maxi dresses, with pretty equal confidence and love of self. I’m not skimpy-clothes-when-appropriate adverse. Photos with Serena and Venus in their tennis outfits, Simone Biles in her leotard, Simone Manuel in her bathing suit - great. Here's strong women doing their thing, in the clothing of their career. And Serena and Venus in evening gowns, as we've seen, do not exude a less than confident or beautiful message.
I think these "confident women" campaigns are getting it wrong. Yes, women should love their own natural selves. We should look at ourselves and say “that lady’s pretty cute” even on a humid, bad hair day. We should see our strength looking back at those tired eyes after going through whatever we’ve been through in our lives. We should feel worthy even when we’ve got a few pounds we’d like to lose. But the proof of that shouldn’t be standing half-naked for the world. Because some of us are all that - and modest.