Mollie Quirk, HelloGiggles
For years I hid in Bridget Jones-style big knickers and a bra that didn't match—I didn't believe lingerie could look good on a body like mine. Instead, I wore black knickers that held me in and a bralette that lacked proper support. I liked lingerie, but as a plus-size woman, I didn't think I could pull it off.
After a long, strained relationship with my body, four years ago, I dived into the digital body-positive community headfirst. Finding new social media accounts and advocates to follow, I saw women on Instagram using hashtags like #bodyposi, embracing their bodies, loving themselves unapologetically, showing off their bodies while wearing beautiful lingerie sets. I saw bodies like my own in gorgeous lingerie with intricate detailing: I saw small waists, big bums, saggy boobs, cellulite, tummies, and stretch marks. It was exactly then when I realized that lingerie wasn't solely for slim people, nor was wearing lingerie a sexual act for other people. Instead, I realized that wearing lingerie, whatever your size, was a form of empowerment.
With over 15 million posts under the #bodypositive hashtag and over 248,000 under the #plussizelingerie hashtag, it's clear to see that self-love isn't a passing trend and if you scroll through any of those hashtags you'll be greeted with people embracing their so-called flaws while challenging harsh beauty ideals. I once believed that lace lingerie was reserved for slim women, seductive women, and for women who had so-called flawless features, but since discovering the body-positive movement, I've discovered a different side to the empowerment of wearing lingerie.
Plus-size people deserve to feel sexy in lingerie because we are just as worthy as any other body type out there. Thin, tall, fat, short—each and every body type deserves to feel confident, sexy, beautiful and free in whatever they wear—but if you had tried to tell my younger self that when I was 16 and highly intoxicated with conforming to society's beauty ideals, I would have never believed you. Growing up, I believed that thin was the ultimate achievement and that I would only ever feel beautiful once I reached a certain size—but now at 23, I've finally embraced my body, realized my worth, and I wear what I want, including the dreamiest of lingerie sets.
My beliefs of who was worthy of feeling sexy in lingerie mainly came from the media and society—they are the mediums that tell us that we need to look a certain way by forcing an unrealistic ideal upon us. Perhaps my reluctance to embrace lingerie was because growing up I saw lingerie retailers exclusively use thin models to promote their products, and as a chubby teen, this just didn't resonate. They made me feel like I was the problem and that I needed to change, when in reality, the issue was with society.
Victoria's Secret was heavily critiqued in 2018 for the lack of plus-size representation when its chief marketing officer refused to use models that were larger than a US 8. Back then, Ed Razek, VS marketing officer, said that the public had "no interest in it"—referring to plus-size models featuring in their annual televised fashion shows. Since then, the brand has adapted to become more inclusive by showcasing plus-size models on their website and expanding their size range to a 40F in bras and XXL in panties.
Lingerie brands are waking up and realizing that plus-size people deserve sexy, supportive lingerie too. In 2018, Rihanna famously launched her own lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, which is now widely praised around the globe for being inclusive. Using models of all shapes, sizes, races, and genders, Rihanna's brand showcases beauty in all its forms and this has massively aided people on their self-love journeys, including my own.
As a U.S. 14/16, there's something about seeing a plus-size person wearing lingerie on a famous lingerie retailer's website or Instagram page that just empowers me beyond words. Seeing a body like my own, looking good, exuding unwavering confidence and promoting self-love is incredibly moving. When I first saw one, it gave me an ego boost and something clicked in my mind. "Hey," I thought, "maybe I can do this too."
If it wasn't for brands such as Savage X Fenty, Elomi, and Playful Promises that are constantly and consistently breaking boundaries with the sizes they stock and the models they showcase, I would still be wearing big knickers and a bad bra. I held thinness in the highest possible stature for the longest time and am so glad that I'm now freed from the shackles of society's opinions and ideals. I feel free to be me, wear what I like, and feel sexy in lingerie, regardless of the cellulite that is stippled into the tops of my legs or my belly that hangs.
After years of loathing my body, wanting to change it and thinking I couldn't feel confident in lingerie without being slim, I can now say with the biggest smile on my face that I feel at my most confident when I'm wearing lingerie. In fact, now I post lingerie photos on the internet to empower other young plus-size women to feel sexy and confident in their bodies.