Last week, reports that sales had dropped 40% year on year at Victoria’s Secret had analysts declaring it was ‘game over’ for the lingerie brand, famous for its cleavage-enhancing push-up bras.
And, despite the recent controversy over Love Island’s body aesthetic, demand for breast enlargement surgery has also fallen, with 8,251 operations carried out last year compared to 9,652 in 2015. So, has the hyper-sexualised look finally gone out of fashion?
One woman who certainly hopes so is Chidera Eggerue, founder of online movement #SaggyBoobsMatter. When she was 18, she decided her breasts were ‘uglyandsaggy’. She thought seriously about surgery – but had a transformative revelation instead.
‘It dawned on me, I just needed to accept myself as I am. ese are my boobs and I don’t need to spend £8k on a boob job; I need to remember there’s so much more to me than how I look,’ she tells Grazia.
Five years later, that decision has flung her to the forefront of a global body positivity movement. Her hashtag encourages women to embrace and share pictures of their natural bodies, and she regularly shares braless images with her 140k Instagram followers.
‘Women come up to me in the street now telling me they’re not wearing a bra anymore because of me,’ says Chidera, 23, who goes under @theslumflower on Instagram. ‘It’s really exciting seeing that women finally feel like they can live in their bodies and don’t have to explain themselves to anyone.’
A survey three years ago found 30% of women hated their breasts, 44% considered surgery and over 50% tried to disguise their shape with padded bras. But now, as well as women falling out of love with the Victoria’s Secret look, at M&S sales of non-wired bras have grown by 40% in the past year and its best-selling style is non-wired and sporty.
‘It’s a positive sign that women are dressing for themselves, rather than doing it for men,’ Chidera says. ‘For ages we’ve been taught that we have to make decisions that make us attractive to men, but this is about understanding that being desirable is the least important thing.’
She is, however, frustrated that not everyone has caught up with the public mood, citing the woeful lack of body diversity on Love Island and the adverts pushing breast augmentation featured around the show. ‘We need to get rid of our own internalised conditioning first. If we start with ourselves then eventually that will be reflected on our screens.’
It’s already starting: last week, more than 110,000 people signed a petition calling for the new Net ix show, Insatiable, to be axed over its body-shaming content. ‘I believe if we care enough we can make that change, but it has to come from people understanding it will bene t them,’ Chidera adds. So, whatever the shape or size of your breasts, if you want to free the nipple, don’t let insecurities stop you. As Chidera put it when she started the movement: ‘Why should only small-boobed women go braless?’ After all, we can’t celebrate the huge range of bodies out there with only one type on show.
‘What A Time To Be Alone’, by Chidera Eggerue, is out now (£12.99, Quadrille)