Do television shows and magazines make you feel guilty for not wearing sexy lingerie, ladies? You may just need some marketing empowerment from academics in the humanities.
Luckily, at Valentine's Day, the Internet will be filled with insipid advice based on weak observational studies and surveys. So here it is: sexy lingerie may not help, but it sure won't hurt.
Writing in the Journal of Consumer Culture, underwear expert Dr. Christiana Tsaousi (see Finally, Women's Underwear Gets Its Own Study from 2008) of the University of Leicester School of Management first explains the obvious to women in a way that would lead to riots if a man did it; that underwear choices are affected by personal taste, social background, professional status and upbringing. You shouldn't feel compelled to wear something just because it was featured in reality shows like "How To Look Good Naked" and "10 Years Younger".
You don't have to go traditionally sexy, you can go cute instead. IT IS YOUR CHOICE, women are assured in 2014. Oh, and it helps to be a 104 lb. supermodel too. Link: BusinessInsider.
"On Valentine's Day, some women may feel the only way to feel feminine is to wear the "sexy" underwear promoted by the media in general. But this is really not the case", she says. "Reality makeover shows and media in general have one purpose – to make women look feminine in line with western ideals. They present femininity as this thing where you feel nice about yourself because you have a body that needs to be expressed. Having that as an aim, participants on the shows are given underwear that's going to mould the body in a certain way."
Tsaousi further assures women that they should think very carefully about choosing the right underwear for the right situation – and that comfort is often as important as "sexiness", which all women recognize once they are in a committed relationship. The bras and panties won't even match then.
"Women learn to choose underwear for the right situation. In an ideal world, it would be good if reality shows acknowledge that women can feel feminine by wearing different underwear. Some women don't like these shows because they always show a specific type of femininity, which is not the reality in most cases. They can make you feel guilty about the way you look and the way you feel about your body if you aren't wearing underwear considered sexy.
"When partners are looking to buy underwear as Valentine's gifts for their wives or girlfriends, they should choose underwear which will fit their partners well and will make them feel comfortable – rather than the stereotypical tiny, uncomfortable types. This will ultimately lead to them feeling nice about themselves."
Tsaousi interviewed women from a wide range of groups and backgrounds, including university lecturers, young mums, and female rugby players. She looked at the influence of women's upbringing, profession, age, and social status on their underwear choices.
She found that some groups such as the young rugby girls favored "cute" underwear while for others such as academics something that supports their professional dress was the main priority.
"The paper indicates that women's choices in underwear are determined by factors such as our ways of thinking, up-bringing, taste and status in society," Tsaousi said. "The paper also suggests that women make similar judgements about their underwear as they would their outerwear."
She also concluded that another big influence on female taste in underwear is their mother.
"We can't forget that the mother normally buys the first bra for her daughter. It is the first act of being feminine, and introduces girls to the idea that they are becoming a woman," Tsaousi said, who says it is little studied even though everyone wears underwear. "Other forms of dress have been widely discussed in consumption studies, but underwear is an area that hasn't been fully researched. It is quite important – we see that every day in the market from the variety on offer in clothes shops and specialised underwear shops."