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Getting down to basics: curating truly inclusive body-positive lingerie.

Butch, femme, genderqueer, trans--no matter how you identify, one thing is for sure: Buying underwear doesn't always make you feel good or confident. And before you even examine the nature of the undies themselves, just look at the way they're marketed: By impossibly tiny, feminine, usually white, straight-looking women.

Jeanna Kadlec, who describes herself as "a lingerie-obsessed, lesbian, feminist graduate student," had come to assume that feminism and fashion--especially lingerie--were incompatible. Her friends agreed. They all felt discomfort in stores and dissatisfaction with what was on offer from an industry that seemed to prey on women's insecurities. In her research into what was already out there, Kadlec found that while genderqueer undies were actually being designed and produced, there weren't many stores--online or shopfront--aimed at queer customers. She decided to create a safe space for those who felt excluded.

Founded last summer by Kadlec, who is based out of Massachusetts, Bluestockings Boutique is an alternative, ecofriendly lingerie and underthings website aimed at the LGBTQIA+ community. Bluestockings' tagline is "Underthings for Everyone"--and it's true! You can buy everything from boy briefs and boxers to soft, lacy bras and cheeky knickers, and in a wider range of sizes and styles.

Originally pursuing a doctorate in English Literature at Brandeis University, Kadlec left after four years to pursue Bluestockings and other opportunities. She felt as strongly about producing original and authentic imagery for her website as she did about finding designers whose garments fit queer and trans bodies and suited women of color. As she organized a photo shoot that would embody the intersectionality she was trying to serve, she was guided by one principle: "Representation is not an idea, it's a practice."

"When you don't see yourself represented, it's harder to 'read' yourself into the picture," says Kadlec. "I meet a lot of people who are ecstatic about Bluestockings. I also meet a lot of people who say, 'That's nice, but I don't care.' When you look at the wide swaths of lingerie imagery produced to date, this response is completely unsurprising. It almost exclusively features straight, cisgendered women. Why would people care?"

Kadlec's photo shoot makes the viewer sit up and take notice: Here are people who aren't used to feeling seen, and who the mainstream consistently refuses to acknowledge. The six Bluestockings models all volunteered for the shoot out of a desire to see people like themselves represented, and all of them identify as one or more of the letters in LGBTQIA.

"Our customers have been incredibly supportive of our mission, especially as they see us put our money where our mouth is with a commitment to expanding our selection (e.g. plus sizes) and consistently doing charitable donations and bra drives. And everyone has been thrilled with the lookbook--I so hoped they would be. I felt strongly about producing our own original imagery as quickly as was financially possible, especially since this kind of imagery just isn't out there."

Here's to getting down to body-affirming basics, and to building our fashion not on fantasy, but on the bodies and the identities that we actually have. (bluestockingsboutique.com)

PHOTOS BY MICHELLE DAVIDSON SHAPIRO MAKEUP BY MATHIEU VETERE

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Title Annotation:FEATURES/STYLE
Publication:Curve
Date:Mar 1, 2016
Words:539
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