I remember the days when lingerie shopping was not just a matter of few clicks. My mother used to take me to the local cosmetics store, which used to sell women’s innerwear in the basement. My mother and the sales-woman used to decide my bra size without asking me and I was always handed over the usual dull basics- a black bra for everyday use, a skin and a white one to wear under light colored clothes. I didn’t even have the privilege to decide the colors, forget the different styles and shapes. I was not the only one who had to go through this routine every three-four months; some of my friends also had to settle with whatever bras their mothers got them. It was all a hush -hush matter, not to be discussed openly even between mother and daughter. We were made to think that our body is not something to be talked about, and if at all a conversation regarding the same was necessary, it should not reach the male members of the family.
When I went to college far away from home, I was delighted to walk in the malls and choose my own lingerie from a colorful selection displayed on the racks. I could try them! I could feel them! I felt like Alice walking in the wonderland. It was a freedom that was denied to me for long. It was with time that I realized that my body is my own and no one has the right to govern it. I may choose to wear any kind of bra that I want to, or I may let my breasts go free. Sexualizing a woman’s body is something that has its roots in the patriarchal setup of the society and is the root cause for most of the crimes committed against women. We have a habit of immediately discarding the lingerie boxes with pictures of women wearing nothing but a bra and underwear so that it stays out of the sight of our brothers and fathers. They should not know that you wear a bra, and yet you cannot go in front of them without wearing one, while your brother may have his breakfast with just his underpants on. Why are we taught to be ashamed of our body? Why can we not talk about it openly? Why can we not tell it aloud when a breast pains? The fact that we cannot even dread to mention the word bra in our conversations with fathers or brothers is something to be worried about. If we are talking about a body part then why does it have to be dubbed as sex or sexy?
In some ways, things have changed with time. Today, I and my mother enjoy shopping for lingerie online. We can browse through endless pages, choose our choice of brands and styles and can even chat with an expert who guides us in making the best selection. But, when I think about it, I ask- have things changed completely? I don’t think so. The increasing number of online shopping sites selling lingerie, and their success is itself indicative of the fact that we have not been able to come out of the patriarchal closet and accept our bodies as ours. One such site welcomes us with a message that their products are discreetly packaged to protect our privacy. I die a little every time I read this message. Why does it have to be so secretive?
I hope for a society where a woman’s body is respected but not sexualized. Where I can talk freely about my body parts and not feel guilty for it. Things may change but it’s going to take time. Till then I will shop online for my favorite bra over a cup of coffee and wait for the product to be delivered, in discreet packaging.
About the Author
I am a law graduate from ILS Law College, Pune and currently pursuing LL.M. from Faculty of Law, Delhi University. I aspire and dream to make the world a safer and better place for women.
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