I like lace, I adore silk, and I wear both often in the form of pretty little underthings that sometimes match my outfit. It has become a ritual for me; to wear fancy bras and undies and look at myself in an antique full length mirror that is propped against a stark white wall in my bedroom before putting on clothes/heading out for the day.
It is not about having a big ego, objectifying myself, or the male gaze. It is truly for me although throughout the years I have gotten comments like, “ I bet your husband enjoys that,” or “Aren’t you uncomfortable? Why are you wearing that?” It has been something I decided to start doing 27 years ago when I was 14, because I used to loathe my body. It has saved me from self-hate, feeling less-than, and opened my eyes in a way nothing else could.
When I was 13, I stood in the dressing room with my best friend glaring at my reflection in the mirror. We were headed into our 8th grade year of middle school.. I was trying on a minimizer bra that promised to reduce you a full size. I had gone from B cup to a D cup over the summer. I struggled with being larger than all of my friends. The figure I saw did not fit the person I felt I was on the inside. Deep down, I felt like my body was betraying me and I had no control. I longed for my friend's perfect, tiny breasts.
She could grab any bra in her size and wear it. She didn't have to bend over to make sure she wouldn't spill out. She wasn't held hostage by underwire or labels that read "full coverage." To me, she embodied everything I wanted. It made my gaze upon myself feel heavier because I wasn't like her. And this is where I was getting it all wrong. As females, at a very young age, we begin to compare our bodies to other women. It is one of the most dangerous things we can do, because instead of seeing our beautiful bodies for what they are, we begin to notice what they aren’t.
"As females, at a very young age, we begin to compare our bodies to other women. It is one of the most dangerous things we can do, because instead of seeing our beautiful bodies for what they are, we begin to notice what they aren’t."
I had to try on every bra before I bought it. They had to have full support, they had to fully cover me, squish me down and hide my breasts from the rest of the world. At 13, I was picking the ugliest bras I could find because I didn't feel I was worthy of anything delicate or feminine.
I fought with myself about my body time while I continued to wear minimizer bras and a very modest swimsuit with a neck that touched my collarbone. If my breasts were anything like my beautiful friends, I would wear a bikini. If I was more like them, I would wear tank tops with delicate noodle straps. If I were normal like they were, I could get a strapless dress for the formal. If I was like them, I wouldn't have to be like me.
I wanted to be someone else, anyone but me. It felt like a chasm I couldn't climb out of until I saw this red silky pajama set one day while shopping. The set had a short sleeve top and matching shorts. I grabbed it instantly, knowing full well it was probably made to be worn by a woman, not a 14 –year- old girl. I had a hunch it would fit and I would feel pretty in it, and I was right.
It wasn't long after that I found myself standing in the dressing room again wearing a pretty purple, lacy bra that fit better than I thought it would. When I bent over I fell out a little bit but I didn't care. I was surprised at how comfortable I felt. Instead of hating the breasts I had, I liked them a little bit more because of this purple bra.
My mother began to notice how much money from my after school job I was spending on undergarments. When I was 16 she gave me a lovely pair of mint-green underwear for Valentine’s Day. She presented them to me wrapped in a white silk ribbon during our annual Valentine’s dinner where she would make a delectable chocolate mouse and hand out tiny gifts.
"Looking back, I realize it wasn't about the lace, the lingerie, or the silky stuff, it was about feeling content being me. The lingerie was simply a vehicle to get me there."
Looking back, I realize it wasn't about the lace, the lingerie, or the silky stuff, it was about feeling content being me. The lingerie was simply a vehicle to get me there. It worked beautifully. And so I found myself shopping more often for delicate things to touch my skin that made me feel this way-- the way every woman should feel, regardless of the size of their breasts, or any other body part for that matter.
For me, it has never been about objectifying myself, it has been a journey to self-empowerment. I am in my 40s now and have had three kids and nothing makes me feel the way sexy undergarments do. I wear them for me. Not for a man, not for a woman, but for my own sense of self. Doing this for 27 years has helped me accept myself just as I am, highlight the body I was born with, and I will still be wearing beautiful underthings when I am 80.
Bio: Katie Bingham-Smith is a freelance writer, mother to three, who loves to make beautiful things and read. She lives in Maine and is a staff writer for Scary Mommy and regular contributor to Babble and Mom.me. You can see more of her on Instagram and Facebook.