Cora Harrington’s Empowering Guide to Lingerie Is Made for All Bodies AND Genders
According to a report released by the Zion Market Research group, the steadily growing global lingerie market will reach an estimated $59.15 billion by end of 2024. But even amid the rising popularity of lingerie, some women, trans, and non-binary folks feel intimidated by the industry’s offerings. Finding space in a market that’s super gendered can be complex. Even for folks who don’t identify as trans or non-binary, attempting to find sultry undergarments can become a daunting and mentally exhausting task.
Cora Harrington, the founder and editor-in-chief of the blog, The Lingerie Addict,found herself in a similar bind. After searching endlessly online and finding herself reading through product guides, reviews, and scrolling through photos of lingerie, Harrington still wasn’t satisfied. She recalls that many of the sites she did come across spoke about lingerie as a way to make yourself look slimmer, which turned Harrington off.
Though the internet was bursting with fashion commentary from bloggers and journalists across the world, Harrington found it was surprisingly missing a voice on body-positive lingerie discussion. The Lingerie Addict started as a place to encourage others to wear — and experiment with— lingerie to transform it into something beyond “practical scaffolding.”
Within the first year of launching, The Lingerie Addict found an audience. Harrington’s honest and thoughtful reviews addressed everything from the relationship between lingerie and identity, to the gender politics of undergarments, to the link between proper sizing and sense of self. She gave her readers a purpose and a reason to care about underwear.
“We don’t really have a lingerie culture in the United States,” Harrington tells us, noting that the market’s focus on young, thin models contributes to the idea that lingerie isn’t for everybody. Harrington tells us that she wants “people to know you don’t have to look a certain way, be a certain age, be a certain size, or be a certain sexuality to be interested in lingerie.”
In her newly released book, In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie, she breaks down every aspect of intimate apparel with style and grace, helping people of all ages, body types, and genders feel compelled to explore wearing and experimenting with lingerie for themselves.
One thing that immediately stands out while flipping through the pages of the book is that none of the bodies shown are gendered, and that gender-neutral language is used throughout. Harrington explains that alongside her publishers at Ten Speed Press, she made the executive decision to keep her content as gender-neutral and inclusive as possible.
“Lingerie needs to be more inclusive and more acceptable; part of doing that is making it inclusive and acceptable on the axis of gender,” says Harrington. The lingerie marketin North America can often feel cis-heteronormative or exclusionary for people who don’t identify as such, she tells us, adding that lingerie comprises “a pretty conservative industry and one that’s slow to evolve.”
Another issue, Harrington says, is that many consumers find lingerie a frivolous indulgence. She notes in a post on her blog that American customers are notorious for buying mostly plain beige t-shirt bras.
But with the release of her book, Harrington is hoping to break the barriers the North American lingerie market has created. The book, broken out into different sections that cover lingerie categories like bras, panties, special occasion wear, shapewear, hosiery, and corsets.
Harrington would like In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie to become the kind of guidebook readers can return to again and again throughout the different phases of their lives.
“I just hope by the end of the book that people feel like lingerie is more accessible to them,” she says. “Because from my perspective, I just want more than anything for more people to be excited about, and interested in, lingerie. I just feel like that’s a win for everybody.”
(featured photo via Cora Harrington)