Body positivity and queer fashion

An uneasy relationship?

Since the 2000s with the rise of social media, body positivity has become one of the most popular buzz phrases with celebrities, like Lena Dunham and Jameela Jamil, and plus-size supermodels like Asley Graham and Kate Wasley, speaking out about the unrealistic beauty standards fashion industry imposes on the female body. On their part, major brands have responded to these criticisms by refraining from retouching and photoshop-ing the models on their marketing campaigns and by releasing plus-size clothing lines. Yet, despite its recent popularity that rendered the term a catchphrase in the mouths of all fashionistas worldwide, the term itself has its own history expanding for more than 5 decades.

Initially articulated within the context of the Fat Movement of the ‘60s focusing on the empowerment, acceptance, and visibility of overweight individuals, the social movement of body positivity has been embraced since by both the feminist and the queer/LGBTIQ+ movements as an integral part of their body politics. By expanding its scope in order to include a series of diverse physical traits like age, able-bodiedness, race, and most of all gender and sexuality, body positivity discourse challenges the normative assumption of how bodies should look like, the rigid gender binarism, and the stereotypical representations of gender and sexual identities and expressions.

Photo by Roberto Hund

Yet, the argument made by and condensed under the somewhat misleading term of body positivity is much more far-reaching, going well beyond media representations and affecting deeply the mental and body health of all of us. Urging us to appreciate our bodies with all their flaws and to feel comfortable and confident with our body image, the body positivity activism aims at celebrating all body types as equally valid and desirable in order to combat depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders as the traumatizing effects the unattainable aesthetic standards have on each of us.

When it comes to queer fashion itself, the body positivity is a marketing mantra automatically evoked by fashion brands as an almost implicit requirement for them to be considered queer in the first place.

However, if one looks closely at the products and the promotional material that frames them, not only the beauty standards in the vast majority of ‘queer’ brands faithfully reproduce the heteronormative bodily norms, but also this sexist policing of the queer body is asymmetrical at the expense of women or femininities. For example, parts of the female body, like the nipples, are heavily censored and bodily fluids, like the menstruation, and traits, like body fur, are condemned as ‘ugly’ or even ‘disgusting’ remaining out of the visual field of the customers. On the other hand, we should keep in mind that sexism cuts both ways. ‘Queer’ brands that sell underwear to exclusively male consumers promote an over-masculinist look of bodies sexualised to the point of pornographication. The typical male model is another white cis gay clone with a sixpack, shaved all over and wearing tattoos, proudly exposing his huge bulge.           

Photo by Kamaji Ogino

Ecce Homo dares to differ from its competitors in the queer underwear market. We aspire to provide our customers with clothes that do not reproduce uncritically the hegemonic representations of what counts as ‘beautiful’, a seemingly innocent adjective which, nevertheless, hides and further consolidates discriminatory behaviours among the members of queer community on the basis of their gender and sexual identity, age, ethnicity, race, able-bodiedness, and embodiment. This translates to a thoughtful designing that overcomes the by now ‘commonsensical’ marketing strategy of oversexualizing and objectifying the queer bodies, without losing sight of the fact that undergarments can be used as means to express a highly personal gender and sexual identity. This way our clothes and promotional campaigns speak for themselves, when it comes to diversity, visibility, and inclusion. A visit on our e-shop will convince you!