Power and Lingerie for Urban Professional Indian Women Living in India
As the “spirit of capitalism’ looms, so does the burgeoning lingerie market amongst urban Indian professional women (UIPW).
Global brands foresee the lingerie industry in India as one big growth opportunity, but what about the UIPW? What does she think? Or is made to think? How much do marketers really understand about foreign cultural contexts and consumer behaviour towards lingerie? And importantly, how much do they really know about the relationship and meanings that UIPW attach to lingerie? I discuss how postcolonial power struggles manifest in the wearing of lingerie, therein discussing the importance of the global production of lingerie, and why the real meanings of lingerie consumption should be understood for UIPW.
The presentation seeks to address the drivers of the lingerie industry in India and critique the meanings attached to lingerie consumption, for UIPW living in India. Despite lingerie consumption being a symbol of seizing control of one’s domestic and private spheres, it is also symbolic of being controlled - in that global western brands operate within ethnocentric lingerie marketing frameworks, seizing control over the Indian woman’s body, and her notions of femininity; in turn orientalising the UIPW, and creating a sense of Indian otherness. The presentation will focus upon the idea of a dominant cultural gaze latent in global brand lingerie consumption, and address the embodied meanings of lingerie as a site of reflexive struggle.
Visual advertising and textual findings from the researcher’s content analysis to date, of global brand lingerie advertising will be presented. The advertisements will be further analysed using theoretical frameworks, to conceptualise the way orientalism and Indian otherness manifest in lingerie advertising. These visual manifestations will be contrasted with global brand advertising in other related sectors, adding to the limited body of knowledge on the social meanings of lingerie in globalisation.