OPINION: You can be sexy and Serious!
When you see another woman looking sexy and owning it - how do you feel, really?
Does your mind begin the age-old game of comparison? Do you feel shame about your inability to be her, to feel her level of confidence? These feelings - however subtle and familiar, are an act of injustice that silences the progression of women everywhere.
On a lot of levels, this deeply unconscious behaviour, negates how we show up in the world, and ultimately how we relate with our fellow sisterhood and our own bodies.
How can women be sexy and not sexualised? How do we navigate the over-sexualisation of women, particularly for our community, the over-sexualisation of fuller busts?!
Well, it is a HUGE conversation to be had, and we, by no means claim to have all the answers, but we do design busty swimwear, it’s pretty sexy and we’re pretty darn serious about it, so let’s talk!
Everyday we interact with women that:
- feel a need or pressure to cover their fuller busts
- question themselves on showcasing their body
- doubt if their busts are worthy of display
Women have been over-sexualised for many years. Breasts in the Western culture are seen as a sexual extension of the female body, as opposed to a functional, non-sexual extension of their body. The primary function of the female breasts is to feed and nourish offspring, however, due to the sexualisation of the breasts by the male gaze (and by extension, the female gaze) breasts are primarily seen to exist for a sexual purpose.
As you can imagine, this has caused an array of issues for women in regard to how their bodies should look, move and feel. The hard truth is that over-sexualisation has a rippling affect, that triggers the daily normalisation of shame and disgust.
But you are not irrational, crazy or silly for having these thoughts. There are compelling reasons you find yourself comparing your shape to other women and creating self-inflicted suffering in the change room. Those reasons are cultural, systematic and hell-bent on patriarchy and the internalised misogyny many of us experience.
I’m here to tell you - we’re living through this reality because of a little thing called the Beauty Myth. In 1990 Naomi Wolf created a text, a theory and above all a revolutionary concept that I now consider to be my personal feminist bible. Wolf explores the tyranny that women face being consumed by physical image. In her words ‘It is not your fault that you are consumed with destructive obsession.’
Ultimately the beauty myth suggests that as women gain more social power they also gain more oppression due to unrealistic beauty expectations and standards. What this means, is that through the female struggle for equality, we have integrated a compulsive pursuit of beauty and ultimately a pursuit for our physical form to be accepted by society.
Wolf suggests that patriarchal beauty expectations give women different privileges and oppression in society. A really beautiful woman by societal expectations will be offered some privilege, perhaps she has 100K followers and social status but is equally ridiculed for only getting there because of her conventional prettiness. These expectations are in opposition, there is no such thing as straight privilege for being beautiful or straight oppression for being conventionally ‘less attractive’. We all experience beauty oppression in different ways because of the beauty myth. Men, women and everyone in between.
These standards are a hard truth of the patriarchy, they bring us down and cause division within our own sisterhood. Ultimately it makes both sexes more preoccupied with appearance which is forced and enabled by mass media and beauty culture.
So what do we do? How do we reverse ideas, thoughts and behaviours that have been bombarding us since our days in the womb? We need to develop and attend to our own sexuality, rather than deriving it from false images of what is beautiful, sexy and acceptable.
It’s not by any means easy, but it starts with compassion and awareness. We are all beautiful mirrors for one another, we all have our own fears and our doubts but also our own brilliance and gifts and that in itself is deeply unifying. I know it can feel like a solo race, an isolating game of shame, but I press to you, you are not alone in your thoughts and desires to want to adhere to a predetermined image of beauty and sexuality.
Irrespective of whether we’ve been passive or not, we have all been part of the epidemic that ‘I am not enough’. That I am not worthy to show up, in the physical body that I live in, without fear of judgement.
But this is just not true! Your bust does not have to be seen as a burden or something to hide away.
It is a unique and beautiful expression of womanhood, femininity and sensuality.
This is a patriarchy issue but it is also a personal journey and this information can be a significant and powerful tool that can be used to heal our collective trauma. It gives us the opportunity to take a hard look in the mirror and challenge the unconscious beauty beliefs that have been dictating how we look, how we show up and how we feel about ourselves on a day to day basis.
For example, think about what society finds attractive today. Skinny not too skinny. Busty but not provocative. Curves on your body but not asking for it. Caring about personal presentation but not too much makeup!
See the common trend, these are all conflicting, all of these expectations are in opposition of each other and we are expected to adhere to all of them.
Next time you see a woman that you have deemed ‘too sexy’ or inappropriate, question that! Where have those thoughts come from? Are they your own? And why do you feel that way?
Next time you see a lusciously curvy woman on the beach flaunting her beautiful bust, acknowledge her as a visionary expression of womanhood! Honour her courage to show up when societal conditioning is screaming at her to stay small and hide.
Questioning these unconscious beliefs and where they have come from is an ongoing process which will never be complete, I mean, look at the proliferation of Botox amongst women (both young and old) to prevent any signs of ageing!
Your body is not a burden, it’s your home. And girl, you can absolutely be sexy and serious!
Selling empowering swimwear may not reverse female oppression, but it does allow women, even for a short moment, an opportunity to feel seen, accepted and sexy! It also gives you a chance to witness a sister owning her sexuality. By supporting her you are choosing to rewrite your own beliefs about female sexuality and what is and isn’t acceptable. This is the work that as women, we must do.
We are all worthy of acceptance, choose to empower yourself and flaunt your womanness! We must embrace the idea that all of us can be sexual and serious, as Wolf says, One does not preclude the other.
Love Holly - ML Team
What a fantastic piece. So well said and so so true. I have always been self conscious and felt that showing my breasts was a sexual signal. Today though I put on my red bra with a red dress and enjoyed the beauty of it all. She is a wonderful thing!
Beautifully written, thought-provoking and empowering! If only more women would embrace the notion of boosting each other up instead of tearing each other down! I’ve very recently made my first purchase from ML, after trying to find the courage for a couple of years. I’m SO THRILLED with my sexy and comfortable bikini. Thank you for such a wonderful product and these very powerful articles! 💕
I really need this this morning. Thank you for the encouragement and such kind words!
More people need to see this article! Well done Holly & the ML team.
This is so empowering – thank you Holly and Rachael and all at the ML Team. Lara x