Indeed, popular shows like “Undress the Nation” or Gok Wan’s “How to Look Good Naked” assert that underwear is a vital component of the visible appearance because it firstly supports the outer dress and thus women’s appearance and secondly it generates sensations and feelings of confidence.
Research at the University of Leicester School of Management endeavours to bring into focus this private part of women’s clothing. It aims to facilitate people’s understanding of how a woman’s underwear supports her body, appearance and self in the various contexts in or stages of her everyday life. The research intends to call our attention to the dynamic, ongoing and multi-faceted experience of female identity, as well as to social imperatives around femininity.
Christiana Tsaousi, a doctoral student undertaking this research project, commented: “Underwear comprises the most intimate part of our clothing but still has great social importance, since a considerable amount of money is spent by women consumers on their underwear. Women participating in this research report different experiences regarding how their underwear supports them in the many roles they are called to play out every day. It can be a silent, routine part of our everyday ‘body work’, serving its purpose of holding in/controlling the body but it can also stimulate different feelings on different occasions. So a woman’s knickers, bras, camisoles and so on become a tool of expression and a carrier of feelings about her body and her sexuality.”
“Underwear can make me feel good or bad” says Caitlyn, an administrator.
“It’s just like when you shave your legs and you know ... you’ve put your perfume on and got your matching underwear on” says Sam, a first time mum.
Christiana Tsaousi has been involved in this research for two years and has previously finished her postgraduate degree at the School of Management, University of Leicester. Her interest in consumption, identity and popular culture was the motivator for starting her current research project on women’s underwear.
The research is being presented to the public at the University of Leicester on Thursday 26th June. The Festival of Postgraduate Research introduces employers and the public to the next generation of innovators and cutting-edge researchers, and gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to explain the real world implications of their research to a wide ranging audience.
More information about the Festival of Postgraduate Research is available at: www.le.ac.uk/gradschool/festival
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