A Critique of Chrysalis Lingerie’s May 1’st Launch
I was super excited about Chrysalis Lingerie’s new line of lingerie that debuted in their online store this week. The company boasts garments created by trans women and for trans women. Their launch has been delayed multiple, but now it was finally coming to a mailbox near you. So when I saw a post on my Tumblr dashboard saying that their store was finally open, I eagerly clicked the link for the store. My jaw subsequently hit the floor, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
First, I was blown away at just how expensive the products are. Chrysalis is charging their customers $75 for a bra and $85 for their control “t-string.” That’s not even mentioning their bra inserts (which seem to be mandatory for their bras?) which will cost you $175. I understand that a custom made product like this can be a bit more expensive so I wasn’t expecting cheap and affordable. I was expecting something a little bit closer in line with Victoria Secret’s pricing (approx. $50).
I could have gathered the money together to splurge and buy one or two bras at that price tag, but at $75 apiece, I really can’t afford it. That’s almost a full days wage at my job (after taxes). And I know I’m pretty economically privileged compared to many trans women. Most trans women don’t have that kind of earning power thanks to the intersection of transmysogny and sexism (and often racism since there are many trans women who are also women of color).
How much, if any, market research did Chrysalis perform before preparing their final products? Chrysalis claims that this is their basic line, meant for “every day wear.” Which means you would need at least seven of the underwear at $85 apiece if you planned to wear them every day (totaling $595). That’s simply not feasible. Most of my trans women friends are barely making enough money to pay their rent on time and still buy groceries.
Upon further examination of the new shop, I came to an even more startling, frustrating, and disturbing realization. Even if I had the money to drop on a beautiful brand-new Chrysalis bra, I wouldn’t be able to buy one that actually fits me.
Now I’m not even that big of a girl. I’m often a 38B when it comes to bras. Realistically, I’m a 40A-B, but those are almost impossible to find in the stores I can afford to shop in. That’s why I was so excited for Chrysalis’s launch. Since the company caters to transgender women, I figured it would go without saying that I would find the higher band sizes and smaller cup sizes that my body requires.
For most trans women, our bone structure makes our shoulders and chests quite robust. Unless you come out and start hormone blockers before you hit puberty, testosterone has had a lot of time to adjust your bone structure. It’s one of the facts of life that trans women have to deal with. So it goes without saying that if Chrysalis clientele is entirely trans women, surely they would carry band sizes up to at least 40 and higher right? Wrong.
The largest band size that Chrysalis is currently selling as of the launch of their website is a 38D. They don’t sell a 38A, 38B, or 38C. Let me tell you, I’ve gotten great results in terms of my breast growth on hormones, but I have absolutely no chance of every filling out a D cup. Unless I pay to have surgical implants, which is not in my transition plan.
When Chrysalis mentioned on their Facebook that they were open to constructive criticism I decided to lend my voice as a trans women who had waited for many years to see Chrysalis’s product only to end up disappointed today. I asked about larger band sizes and I used my own situation as an example as a 38B. Their official Facebook responded: “As a brand we also have a specific look which is about looking “natural and proportioned” so we figured a band size of 38 would look most balanced with a D cup and nothing smaller.”
For me, as a trans woman, this response exposed the real problem with this launch: In an effort to provide lingerie for the marginalized transgender community, Chrysalis has resorted to an attitude that does nothing to challenge traditional cisgender beauty standards. They have created a line of bras that fit trans women who mostly fit into our traditional model of “beautiful woman.” That’s their brand, “natural and proportional.” But they have forgotten that most of us trans women don’t fit those unrealistic cisgender beauty ideals. I guess that means that we get left behind in the Chrysalis movement. How can you be a trans positive lingerie company if you continue to assert that anything with a band size of 38 and below a D cup isn’t “natural” or “proportional?”
That’s why I needed Chrysalis. I needed Chrysalis to challenge those beauty norms. I needed them to be something different, something a step above what I could buy in Victoria Secret or Fredrick’s of Hollywood. I needed them to tell me that a pudgy trans woman with big shoulders and small breasts can be sexy and beautiful.
A word of advice to trans women: Go to your nearest target. Buy a two pack of pushup bras (24$ for 2), and target’s bra inserts (12$). Then go to your nearest Walmart and buy the Vasserette Control Shapewear Panties (2.50 each), they do wonders for helping your tuck. There you go! You just saved yourself a lot of money, you can afford to buy enough to wear every day, and best of all you look fabulous.
Submitted by Teagan Widmer AKA @twidx