Lingerie is suddenly becoming the center of feminist discourse, with more and more startups jumping at the opportunity to disrupt this industry. And there’s good reason to do so: some of the biggest companies that serve women are ironically led by male CEOs. Let’s go through the list:

  • Victoria’s Secret (founded by a man who was embarrassed shopping with his wife)
  • Calvin Klein
  • Aerie
  • Agent Provocateur
  • AdoreMe (replaced their female founder with a male CEO)
  • Thirdlove (actually has a male Co-CEO but they keep it on the d/l)

It’s no wonder the bra industry has been flawed for so long. When men are put in positions of defining how women should look, act, and feel, it creates huge gaps in what companies offer and what women actually want.

For far too long, brands like Victoria’s Secret have set unrealistic expectations for women by constantly showing one body type — one way they want you to think you should look. Spoiler alert: It’s a Barbie sized body with a 32C boob size. This perpetuates ridiculous body standards and harmful definitions of femininity and womanliness.

It shocks me that I still hear jokes and insults around being ‘flat’ chested.

I’ve also heard some of our customers express that they didn’t want to look like ‘a man’ or have a ‘boy’s body’ due to the size of their bust.

It’s time to break down these toxic conventions of what it means to be feminine:

Having or not having breasts doesn’t define you as a woman.

The ability or inability to bear children doesn’t define you as a woman.

Liking or not liking “girly things” (what does this even mean?) doesn’t define you as a woman.

Being or not being married doesn’t define you as a woman.

Wearing or not wearing makeup doesn’t define you as a woman.

You are in full control of how you define yourself.

When we started Pepper, we always knew it was going to be more than a bra company. Our mission was to positively influence the much needed conversations around body standards. We are two female founders who believe in empowering women to celebrate themselves as they are.

I think it’s awesome that we’re starting to see more 100% women-led companies in this industry. We need it. Everyone wins, especially you. I hope women never see other female founders as the competition. Because I see it as an opportunity for women to finally get the products they deserve and be spoken to, treated, and portrayed in a way that more accurately represents them.

Happy Women's History Month,

Jaclyn and Lia


This blog post was originally posted on Medium by Lia Winograd (Stern '19), co-founder of Pepper.