Dear Kate, an up and coming, fashion-meets-function underwear line, has a bit of a controversy on their hands: people are all wound up about their models.
…but NOT for the reason you might think.
Dear Kate recently launched a new collection of undies, called “Ada”, named after premier female computer programmer Ada Lovelace. In that spirit, the Ada collection’s lookbook features female tech execs in their underwear. Cool, right?! The campaign not only presents a variety of body types and ethnicities, but also highlights some amazingly talented and powerful women. Diversity, innovation, and talent? Seems pretty badass to me! Critics of the campaign, however, seem to disagree. They think that Dear Kate’s pinup-y pics have “set back” women in tech. Cheapened their image. Others find it “bizarre” and “sexist”. And unfortunately, one of the loudest voices in the great Dear Kate debate is also a woman in tech. Elissa Shevinsky, CEO at Glimpse Labs, recently told TIME magazine that “Posing in your underwear undermines the message that you aim to be taken seriously as a technologist.” Does it, though?
These issues are exactly what the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie clip in Beyoncé’s song Flawless touches on: “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.” UH OH. Critics of the campaign, Shevinsky included, seem to be having a very difficult time rectifying the idea that you can be smart and sexy. That you can look cute while you code. That these very intelligent, successful, and powerful WOMEN are also sexual beings who may like to wear pretty underwear, and do not mind other people knowing it. It’s too much! I feel faint!
The Dear Kate’s campaign is nothing out of a Frederick’s of Hollywood store, or even on par with a Victoria’s Secret catalog. And while it does show the women in various states of undress (because that’s the point), it isn’t at all exploitative. If anything, it’s empowering. As Dear Kate’s CEO Julie Sygiel told the Huffington Post, “We believe women should be taken seriously regardless of what they are wearing. This goes for women in any profession, as what someone is wearing has no bearing on their capability or intelligence. If someone views our campaign as perpetuating sexism, it’s because they have certain expectations of women.” YES.
As you may have gleaned from the quotation and photo above, Dear Kate is talking back, and starting a movement. The company took to Instagram just days ago to encourage fans and supporters to post a picture of themselves in underwear…and to include their new hashtag: #notcontroversial. Because, yeah–as stated in the post’s caption, we can be over-the-world kind of ladies REGARDLESS of what we’re wearing.