Of all the days to take down the mainstream lingerie industry, Neon Moon, the fearlessly disruptive British indie label, picks today.
The one day when the world is expected to park its social and political conscience, stifle its feminist sensibilities, and gape in awe and envy at the latest zillion-dollar fantasy wrought by Victoria’s Secret (whose most recent jewelled bra will be unveiled in L.A. this afternoon).
It’s also a day when the worldwide media is expected to gush obligingly and approvingly, and the rest of the lingerie industry yields the playing field to the American bra retailer while privately grousing about the ridiculous annual spectacle.
But not Neon Moon, the crowdfunded nonconformist that burst onto the scene earlier this year with a battle cry to “shock the lingerie industry” by using real models and letting customers “reclaim the right to their bodies.”
Neon Moon‘s new photo campaign, released this morning, absolutely obliterates the gauzy soft-lit fantasy world of lingerie marketing by presenting three models — one cisgender, one transgender, and one black — in the brand’s colorful minimalist undies.
The #IAmNeonMoon campaign is meant to promote diversity and inclusivity, combat transphobia and fight back against body shaming. Mostly, though, it’s a defiant alternative to the saccharine, superficial and hyper-sexualized representation of women that is the template for most lingerie marketing. Eff your effing beauty standards, as Tess Holiday might say.
“We want to encourage women to confidently identify with our models and feel reflected,” Neon Moon CEO Hayat Rachi said. “It’s not a bad thing for women to feel happy in their own body, and to also encourage other women to do the same.”
The #IAmNeonMoon project is one of numerous such efforts in the past year from (mostly) independent lingerie labels who are determined to present realistic, body-positive depictions of women with a variety of body sizes, shapes and colours.
But this campaign goes further than most: the images are unretouched, the jiggly bits and bulges aren’t hidden, the body ink is shown proudly and, to emphasize the message beauty is self-determined, one of the campaign models (above) shaves her head for the camera.
The model likely to garner the most attention, though, is Jilly (below), a transgender woman who wears Neon Moon‘s Non! bamboo triangle bra and brief from its Mon Dieu collection. She is not the first TG woman to model lingerie for a retail brand, but she’s among the first and will almost certainly be the object of both praise and scorn for appearance here.
“Whether a woman has stretch marks, cellulite, body hair, scars, freckles, or any other natural attributes, they are still women,” Rachi said. “Transgender women should not be obligated to look like cis women in order to be considered beautiful by society. It’s all about women being comfortable in themselves whilst being comfortable in Neon Moon feminist lingerie.”
The #IAmNeonMoon campaign is also intended as a rebuttal to critics and body-shaming trolls who didn’t find much worth ogling in Neon Moon‘s debut lookbook last spring.
“Neon Moon has faced its own barrage of hate towards our beautiful models online by body shamers, so we are on a fight back and want others to get involved,” Rachi said. “(We are) fighting negative body image head on and want all women to pledge #IAmNeonMoon to stand in solidarity with not just our models, but all women.”
Neon Moon earned massive international publicity with its Kickstarter launch in the spring, calling itself “feminist lingerie” and showing unretouched images of amateur models with armpit hair and other attributes rarely seen in the highly polished world of fashion marketing.
The made-in-UK label produces soft, wirefree pieces “where every woman’s body creates the shape of the garment, not the other way around,” the company says. That feature alone makes Neon Moon appealing to trans women, who require stretch and comfort in their undergarments.
The decision by model Annie to shear her rainbow-coloured locks for the campaign is meant to “challenge beauty standards for women and what it means to be a lingerie model in today’s society,” said Rachi (who also posed for the campaign, in the final image below).
“(Annie) proves that a women’s beauty is whatever she wants it to be, with hair or none at all.”
CREDITS: Photography by Michelle Long.