beauty

I want to buy Lena Dunham's undies so bad because they make me feel good.

Shut up and take my money.

That Internet cliche was my first thought when, last night, I saw Lena Dunham‘s boobs on my Facebook feed.

Because, seriously. Look at this:

Lena & Jemima for Lonely Girls ♡ Shot by @zaraeloise in NYC for #lonelygirlsproject

A photo posted by Lonely Lingerie (@lonelylingerie) on

It’s an ad for underwear, obviously. You can tell it’s a fashion shoot by the blankly serious expressions, the unlikely setting. Women over the age of 22 don’t spend a lot of time together in bathrooms.

But still, its similarities with any other underwear shoot pretty much end there.

No-one’s pouting or arching their backs. There’s no wind machine. No-one looks like they haven’t eaten in a month. No-one has waist-length hair extensions and a subtext in their eye that says, ‘buy these for me and I’ll f**k you’.

It’s just women, sitting around in their underwear. Beautiful, exquisite underwear. Underwear you would buy for yourself with your own actual money.

It took me 10 seconds to stop looking at Lena’s unretouched body and start looking at her bra. I used to watch Girls, I’ve seen Lena’s breasts before. ‘Woah, that’s gorgeous’, I thought. Two more seconds and I’d googled the brand, Lonely.

A credit card transaction later and I’d bought the damn bra. I couldn’t afford it.

This, my friends, is advertising that works.

Listen to Holly chat about all things underwear on our podcast. (Post continues after audio.)

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Advertising that works because it made me feel excellent. Made me look at the product without the immediate recognition of, “It will never look like that on me”.

Aspiration stops working when women grow up. The vast majority of us will never, ever look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. There just aren’t enough extreme body makeovers on the planet.

But there’s a time when we can’t stop looking at those otherwordly creatures, wanting what they have, wanting to eat what they eat, entertaining the idea that a few bits of lace and diamante could indeed be the thing that stands between us and the bodies we had always imagined.

And if we got the bodies we always imagined, surely the lives would follow. The love, the money, the privilege, the “power” that we are counselled from birth is the preserve of Beautiful Women.

The Victoria's Secret 'Perfect Body' campaign.

That is the age of aspiration.

Then you grow up and you are left to learn how to live in the body you have. How not to curse it daily, how to try to befriend it, and treat it well and make it look however you most like it to look.

It's about then that you start to notice that all the adverts trying to sell things - underwear, fashion, wrinkle-cream - feature extraordinarily beautiful teenagers. And it irritates you for a while. And then you just turn off. It's just wallpaper, irrelevance. Those are apples and you're an orange.

That's when they've lost the power to sell to you.

Smart brands know this. Slowly, slowly, we are seeing more diversity, in body-shape, age and ethnicity in the adverts all around us. We see it in Serena Williams lending her extraordinary shape to Berlei. We see it in pretty much all that Dove do. And this week, we have seen it in the extraordinary coverage of Lena and Jemima getting their gear off for Lonely, a small New Zealand brand.

Scroll through to see more of the Lonely Girls Project. (Post continues after gallery.)

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It's got nothing to do with Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke being some kind of "every woman", they're clearly not. It isn't about the fact that those women do not look beautiful in those photos, they clearly do.

It's about brands feeling the shift. The shift to: If you put your underwear on a supermodel, I do not want to buy it. That is not my body. Those are not my undies.

If your undies are so freaking excellent, they will make me feel beautiful. They will make me feel more-than, not less-than.

I will not feel like an imposter in someone else's knickers. I will feel like myself.

That's what Lena and Jemima's bits are saying in that artfully dishevelled bathroom.

It's my money. So shut up and take it.

Do you want to see more "real" women in advertising? 

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