Courtesy of Racquel Coral

What My Newfound Love Of Lingerie Taught Me About Loving My Body

I never saw the same things as others because I was too focused on what I felt needed changing.

Her Voice

As someone who has always considered themselves beautiful at any size, I can't say that I have always loved my body. Sure, there have been moments where I thought I was the sexiest thing walking. But for the most part, all I saw when I looked in the mirror were flaws. My thighs were always too big. Butt full of dimples from cellulite. Boobs always in the way. And my arms too jiggly.

I never saw the same things as others when they looked at me because I was too focused on what I felt needed changing, which caused me to become insecure with my body. Feeling like it wasn't good enough.

At first, I thought that maybe if I lost weight, then I would finally be pleased with what I looked like on the outside. But no matter how small I got, I still couldn't see past my imperfections. Which led to years of comparing my body to countless models and celebrities, wishing I had what they had.

Abs like Janet Jackson. Thighs like Serena Williams. Arms like Angela Bassett. Booty like Melyssa Ford. Legs like Tina Turner. With perfect, perky boobs like Rihanna's that didn't require me to wear a bra.

To associates and the people closest to me, no one ever knew that I was dealing with these insecurities because all they saw was confidence when they saw me. I walk with my head held high, wear whatever I want, can be the life of a party, and have no problem with catching the eye of potential suitors. But on the inside, it was the total opposite.

Racquel Coral

I was always overly concerned about something falling out, feeling like I had to cover some part of my body or put on shapewear for a smoother appearance. It even got to the point where my body insecurities began spilling over into my relationships. I didn't want to be seen naked with the lights on. Sex had to be done in total darkness or at max, by candlelight. And the thought of wearing lingerie made me even more uncomfortable.

Even though, as a former Victoria's Secret Angel Card carrier, I, like many women eagerly anticipated their semi-annual sales so that I could rack up on all things satin, silk, velvet, and lace. But when it came time to wear it, I felt discomfort like no other. Resulting in a lot of those items being pushed to the back of my drawer only to never again see the light of day.

My body insecurities worsened over time, especially when I began to put on weight. I found myself wearing more black, turning down opportunities to go out, and shying away from cameras. It was bad enough that I knew I was gaining weight, but I didn't want others to notice it either.

Racquel Coral

However, at some point last year, shortly after I committed to a new fitness journey, I started to become comfortable in my body. Maybe it was because I needed to reach my heaviest size to appreciate the body that I had been given, or maybe I just reached the age where I stopped giving a damn. But something in me caused me to find my confidence.

And this newfound confidence made me want to invest in lingerie once again. But this time, with the intent to actually wear it.

So, I began purchasing pieces here and there. Trying them on while admiring my body in the mirror. Marveling at just how perfectly each piece adorned the areas that I thought were my ugliest. How the strings were strategically placed on various parts of my body. The lace seductively covered my most intimate parts. The cups lifted my breasts, giving them that perfect look that I had always strived for.

Even the way each item enhanced my God-given curves.

Racquel Coral

The way I looked when I saw myself in the mirror wearing my lingerie made me feel sexy, confident, bold, and beautiful. It forced me to see what others had always seen in me and to love my body in ways that I never thought were possible.

Nowadays, my drawers are filled with lingerie because I never want to lose sight of this feeling. I never want to revert to the days of feeling insecure in my body. Nor do I want to see flaws whenever I look in the mirror.

Because for me, wearing lingerie is more than just something to entice my partner or to spice things up in the bedroom. It is now a tool to help me feel sexy and remind me of my beauty. A way for me to fall deeper in love with my body. A symbol of how far I have come in my self-love, body-positivity journey.

Featured image by Racquel Coral

The emergence of a week-long tension headache told me that I needed to figure out a way to minimize and relieve my stress. In addition to daily magnesium supplements and meditation, I also found myself wanting to orgasm (the health benefits are hard to ignore) and do so at least every other day.

I was determined to set the mood and engage in some erotic self-focus by way of masturbation, and I wanted to do so with a little more variety than my wand vibrator provides. My commitment to almost daily masturbation was affirmed even further with the arrival of what would become my new favorite sex toy, the viral Lovers’ Thump & Thrust Dual Vibrator.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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