You probably know Bombas as the brand that donates one pair of its socks to a homeless shelter for each pair purchased. This became the company’s social mission when the two founders learned that socks are the most requested item of clothing in shelters.
Now the brand is carrying its social consciousness to its new underwear collection. What’s more, the Bombas marketing mavens are conscious of another important fact: Women who wear underwear aren’t all Victoria’s Secret models. When I opened up one of the Bombas emails the other day, and started looking through its online shop, I was intrigued to see the panties on the bodies of ‘real’ women. Real women with thighs, hips, buttocks, tummies and legs that don’t resemble washboards, beanstalks, and pencils.
When I launched Figure magazine for plus-size women around 2004, the bodies of the larger models we used still didn’t have a bit of hanging or bulging skin. But younger women today champion body acceptance, not body shaming.
I’m not advocating that women should accept bodies that can wreak havoc on their health. “Obesity is a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It is a medical problem that increases your risk of other diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers,” reports the Mayo Clinic website.
But not all bodies with excess skin (let’s say after dramatic weight loss or pregnancy) or more heft are unhealthy or unsightly. We may not be used to seeing them on the pages of magazines and catalogs, but millions of women see bodies like this when they look in their mirrors.
I remember to this day heading to the “Chubbette” department with my parents when we went shopping for new school clothes around the end of August every year during my childhood. I don’t think I read the copy in ads like this one in 1957, when I was 10, but reading it now makes me realize why I grew up thinking myself unsexy (I wasn’t, by the way, but it took years of therapy to discover that).
“If your favorite little girl is on the plump side, dress her in Chubbettes and see her blossom into a lovely lass – as happy and self-assured as her slimmer schoolmates. Chubbettes are created for the chubby-size young figure – a perfect combination of fit, comfort and slenderizing design.”
The ad also offers parents “POUNDS AND PERSONALITY”, a free booklet that will help them understand their child’s “problems, talent development, shyness, tactless remarks, the ‘game’ of dieting, etc.” And, it was written by a woman from New York University’s School of Education.
Those 1950s were quite a decade!