I am a true believer that the more access we have to the information, the more educated and empathetic we are. This article was shared with me by my friend and I was stricken it's powerful message. It's originally in Russian, so in order to deliver it to you, I've consider this first try to share translation of the different resources.
Notice: The original article is the property of the Wonderzine , available via the link: Girls-and-Lingerie. All the images and words are the property of the Wonderzine. Author of the Moi Boudoir Blog provided the translated version just with a goal of sharing the original article with wider auditory and has no relationships to the production of the article.
Women on relationships to their bodies and shooting in underwear
Female nudity, on one hand, is a bigger taboo than male nudity, but on the other hand it is constantly being exploited as a subject of standardization. It is often difficult for women who have a body-type different from "model" to accept themselves and appear undressed in front of others at the beach or in the gym. Beauty and fashion industry only supports it - in cookbooks and campaigns we see women that we can’t relate to most of the time. And purchase of the advertised product does not bring us closer to these standards, but actually emphasizes the difference. When clothing is designed for women of a certain type of figure, by the time it gets to us it only leaves us confused.
We took photos of six women wearing underwear designed by Russian designers and asked them to talk about the evolution of the relationship they have with their own bodies, and if it is difficult to show themselves “the way they are” in a world where beauty is so strictly regimented.
MASHA VORSLAV, 23
Editor of Wonderzine
Wearing: BLANK, OH MY
It is important for me to constantly challenge myself and fight my own weaknesses.
I think this photoshoot is the most difficult thing that I’ve done in my life. But I expressed the desire to take part in it, so it would be silly and disrespectful to back out. And also, it is important for me to constantly challenge myself and fight my own weaknesses. This photo shoot seemed like a cool challenge.
My relationships with my body are bad and were even worse. If you would be able to exist with your head only without everything that is lower than it, I would consider it for sure. I haven’t learned how to perceive my entire personality without dividing it from the body. But after the year of working out on a regular basis I started to notice that my body can do some good things, not just suffer. I like to run up the escalator and I can handle heavy boxes, for example. Also, after I started to do work with my hands I started to appreciate them - sometimes they can make cool things. With age you’re forced to learn how to take care of yourself and understand that you will not be able to function normally if you don’t.
I usually buy simple black underwear because all my clothes are also simple and black. I’ve never compared myself to models from advertisements and just now I started to think of the reason I have never done it. The reason is simple: I always felt like a loser comparing my body to others, no matter how they look. Models and their look are so far from me that it doesn’t make any sense even to compare myself to them.
Everything above is completely minor, but I guess it is important to speak not only about successes but about difficulties too. I was hooked on social media where all the people I know seemed smarter, kinder and more successful. I just recently realized it and am trying to look at everything that is happening like a real picture - because it’s fair and good, and I don’t know any other way in life.
LILIA BRYANIS, 27
It seems to me, every time someone looks at me they are thinking “oh my god this is what she is under her clothes?!”
It is very hard to accept yourself, and my relationship with my body is also complicated. I was big enough until the age 17 and I didn’t do anything to it - didn’t do sports, didn’t watch my diet. I just whined and suffered the whole time that I wasn’t born like my girlfriends.
But ten years ago I decided that it’s time to slim down. I’ve lost a couple kilos in a few months by stopping eating after 6pm. I liked the result but my weight didn’t change anymore and I wanted to lose more. I didn’t find anything better than to just not eat after 4pm. Then after 12pm (you should understand that because of slimming down and unrequited love I could wake up at 6am to have breakfast). Eventually I lost 13 kilos. Now, I think it was a hell and a horror. I was nervous, tense and desperately angry.
Till the age of 21 I hated my hair, always dyed it in different colors (blond most of all) and straightened. I wore colored contact lenses because I thought my eye color was dull. But then I went bold, took out my contact lenses and started to love my hair and eyes.
It’s easy for me to undress in front of women I don’t know. I’ve always gone to the pool since 18-years-old and I like to look at others bodies, stealthily. I like anonymity. But at the same time it’s terribly uncomfortable for me to get naked in front of someone I know. In front of women and especially men, even if it’s just a swimsuit. It seems to me, every time someone looks at me they are thinking “oh my god this is what she is under her clothes?!”
Just recently, Masha Vorslav told me about an exercise where you have to find ten parts of your body that you like. I started to recall them and found all ten, but anyway, I think they aren’t anything special. Overall, I always feel like I want to look better and slimmer. I don’t know how to deal with it.
It was very easy to consider this photo session because it’s interesting. I was worried (and still am) that photos will be too realistic and all the attention will be on the parts of the body I’m ashamed of. I just catch myself realizing that I always thought beautiful lingerie is for older women with ideal figures. And that in general beautiful lingerie is like a night out dress, not for every day. So now what? Even though I still have a lot of questions about the lingerie, after the shoot I want to get a couple of attractive sets to wear them with night out clothes. Usually, I buy something really simple - H&M or Uniqlo.
YANA IVANOVA, 25
Sales Manager at Aloha Gaia
Happiness does not depend on how many ab packs you have or if you have dimples on your butt.
I grew up physically very early - my shapes rounded and breasts started to grow when I was 8. I struggled from it a lot when I was a kid. As a teenager I did sports - dzudo and samba. I had mostly male company since girls didn’t really attended classes, so I didn’t have problems with my appearance. But then my body started to look way too sporty. My waist started to disappear. And I stopped working out. After that, I gained a lot of weight quickly - a normal thing for those who stop sports. And this is where a big change on myself and my weight started.
I was abruptly losing and abruptly gaining weight. The maximum weight I had was 62 kilos, the lowest 42 kilos. Twenty kilograms always changed since the age of 16 to 24. I can’t say that I felt unhappy or happy depending on weight. Happiness does not depend on how many ab packs you have or if you have dimples on your butt. It was always an inner feeling for me. I’ve never had problems with admirers, despite whatever size I was.
Now I understand that yes, I have a feminine body and there is nothing to fear. I don’t want to seem presumptuous but I really have no problem with my body. Fashion is dictating boy-like shapes: small breasts and non-existent butt. So what? Self-improvement deserves praise, but idiocy already does not make sense.
For a long time I’ve done physical practices: trying to fix my inner state first of all and then look how it will reflect on my body. It does not work the other way around. You have to take care of yourself - eat well and move. But if you don’t reach inner balance, you can exhaust yourself doing sports and still not get any results anyway. The way you feel yourself, what you radiate, how your eyes spark - everything is being reflected. You can have a bad mood today, but look the same way you did yesterday, and not get any look of admiration.
It was easy to consider this photoshoot for me. Just like anyone else I have a head, arms and legs. I don’t have anything weird, and everyone gets to see me this way at the beach anyway.
TANIA RESHETNIAK, 25
Editor of The Village
Wears: LOOVEGOODS and MARIA STERN
My main criteria in choosing underwear is comfort. I will never wear high heels if I have meetings throughout the day or I have an evening of walking planned. The same story with underwear, I shouldn't feel it on me or be thinking of shoulder straps sliding down.
The best set is high-waisted panties, bra bandeau or bralette. What is strange is that I spend a lot of time finding simple and not elaborate things. Neither underwear store staff or ad campaigns help. Seriously, do any of us have Victoria’s Secret “angel” measurements? The problem has been solved easily. As soon as I find a good fitting piece, I buy it in different colors. I’ve had some luck with Russian brands as well. I ordered three panties from LOVEgoods Lingerie that were tailored according to my measurements. Now I plan to order a couple bras and not worry about underwear for about half a year.
OLYA AVSTREIGH, 27
Wears: Touch Touch & Zhilyova
Of course, I hated the beach because I felt terribly embarrassed deep inside (although I never showed it). I guess, just last summer, I eventually won and stopped worrying what other people think about my body. And now it is not important if it’s people at the beach or on internet. The photoshoot was a cool experience. I felt extremely comfortable and happy about it. But we all know that it is one thing when you take a picture with your phone when you know all your curves, and it’s different when you stand in a clear bodysuit in the middle of an empty studio. When I received the photos, I faced a wave of horror at first and then a wave of pride. In real life, I wear underwear from American Apparel - I have one bra in three different colors. Every time I am abroad, I just buy new ones and never try them on. They are sexy and comfortable at the same time, that’s why I don’t think of it too much. So it was a big pleasure to try on different sets at the shoot.
Last year I started to learn twerk. It’s not only fun, but also all your body is getting fit - butt pumps up and waist slims down - and I don’t need anything else. My weight will always change. I lose and gain weight pretty fast, it really depends on its mood. I like to eat well and will never sacrifice that. And I think I’ve learned how to love my body at every stage. And now - unlike in 2006 - culture supports my self-esteem. I love Barbie Ferreira and Naomi Shimada, there is a real visual sisterhood. And I am excited about this cult of butt, to be honest. And if before I would not mind to be a skinny girl, now I would never exchange my body for anything else. In sum, all I want to say is that it’s cool to be a girl in 2016.
MARIA SERVETNIK, 21
I gained a lot of years in one year when I had depression. It took me a long time to realize how much I’ve changed and how I look. Before depression I thought I was a little bit fat and I always lived with this feeling. But now, when I really have become fat and I can wear plus size clothes, I look at my old photos and can’t understand what my problem was. I feel much happier now than I felt before. I have a healthy relationship with my body, but I have to admit they were not always like this. I’ve done a lot in order to change it - love myself, accept and understand that that’s me and it’s my body.
Before depression, I was pretty active. Now I am “weak” and I don’t like this “weakness”. But it’s not about looks, it’s about strength and being exposed. That’s why I plan to start running and boxing again just to feel good. It is a very destructive thing, that’s why I became my own enemy. I was repeating to myself: “you have to suffer, you have to be skinny!”
Over all I get a little bit upset about the quantity of beautiful pictures we see all the time - it affects our perception of ourselves. You start to expect impossible things from yourself and others. I personally don’t face a big pressure usually. For me it is just a past story, with thanks to the absolutely body positive people around me.
It was not easy to consider this photoshoot. I guess it might be a harder decision for women than men. You always think “what if my grandma will see these photos?” And mine will see it for sure, we are friends on Facebook. But I like Wonderzine a lot and I like what you do so that’s why I could not resist. I wouldn’t do this for another publication probably. Also, I like my tattoos a lot and I’m glad when others see them.
Before the shoot, I asked my husband to take some photos of me at home. I looked at them and reassured myself that everything is fine. After all, my stretch marks will not disappear if they are photographed. I will not change anyhow after it gets published, and it is silly to worry about that. I live with myself every day.
I guess that because of women being objectified, they started to do the same and think: “if I don’t look the way I should, there is something wrong with me”. But it’s necessary to get back your subjectivity and to say: “I am more than my body, I do not end where my butt ends.”
It is easier for me now. I already don’t fit any physical standards that exist. I will not be the girl from the cover and I am not aspiring to it. Sometimes you just stop being afraid to look “different” or “not beautiful”. I’ve stopped.
Producer: Luba Kozorezova
Style: Dasha Kniazeva
Stylist Assistant: Svetlana Michailuk
Makeup: Masha Vorslav
Photography: Evgeniy Kruglov, Alina Nikitina, Alexander Karnuyhin, Luba Kozorezova, Katia Starostina