At this time of year, the fashion media is saturated with hyper-sexualized images of flawless lingerie models promoting the classic — and utterly ridiculous — paradigm of romance that surrounds Valentine’s Day.
It is, as we’ve said before, the most conflicted gift-giving occasion of the year, one that sells love but too often results in self-loathing, shame and loneliness.
Thankfully, that paradigm is slowly changing, thanks largely to activist millennials and third-generation feminists who simply can’t stomach it.
In the lingerie industry, we’re starting to see women-centred ‘Galentine’s Day’ promotions and other marketing pivots that aim to shift the V-Day focus away from commodified romance and toward self-acceptance and the supportive communalism of #girlpower.
Now, Neon Moon, the disruptive UK startup that made a worldwide splash last year with its ‘feminist lingerie’, aims to reposition Valentine’s Day as an inclusive global occasion for women to “reclaim their bodies” and love themselves first.
Neon Moon today launched a video, photo campaign and hashtag #NeonMoonCelebrateYou that celebrates body positivity by showcasing five amateur models who are outside the norms associated with lingerie marketing.
“Neon Moon is the only lingerie brand that unapologetically strives for all women to love themselves first this Valentine’s Day,” said brand founder Hayat Rachi. “Our alternative campaign celebrates all that is airbrushed out of standard advertorials: scars, body hair, cellulite, stretch marks.
“Valentine’s Day is a hard pill for many of us to swallow, let alone those of us who don’t fit into society’s restrictive and normative ideas of what beauty and romance mean. … Neon Moon models unapologetically love themselves and are reclaiming what society deems as ‘flaws’ this Valentine’s Day.”
The five fearless models in the campaign range in age from 19 to 50 and represent a variety of gender self-identities that defy conventional stereotypes.
Rachi, who by now has the most famous armpit hair in the fashion world, included herself in the new project as a way to prove that “lingerie models can reflect everyday women without promoting harmful stereotypes.
“Our campaign aims to highlight the personal battles each of our models have fought with their body, demonstrating how when the male gaze is redirected, women are emancipated from the usual constrictions the lingerie industry imposes upon them,” she said.
“Getting women to celebrate themselves without guilt is hard. It’s so important that everyone celebrates themselves and love themselves this Valentine’s Day on top of having anyone else love them too.”
Although many people in the industry will quietly admit to mixed feelings about capitalizing on this questionable holiday, Valentine’s Day still represents the biggest one-day sales spike of the year for most lingerie merchants. Neon Moon isn’t so much aiming to kill V-Day as reform it into something more realistic, more incluseive and more inspirational for all women.
“Getting women to celebrate themselves without guilt is hard,” Rachi said. “It’s so important that everyone celebrates themselves and love themselves this Valentine’s Day on top of having anyone else love them too.”
Last year, when Neon Moon crashed the old-school lingerie world with its debut collection, Rachi found herself having to explain what was meant by its motto “feminist lingerie”. With its new campaign, Neon Moon addresses a new question: what, exactly, is a feminist valentine?
Simply, it’s one that you give to yourself.
[CREDITS: Photography and video by Bianca Peake. Models are, above, Izzy (in orange) and Robyn; and below: Hayat, Amey and Laura.]