HS Helsinki | Iris Heinonen struggled with her appearance as a teenager – A turn followed, which is why she is bare-breasted in advertisements

Helsinki-based clothing designer Iris Heinonen wants to normalize ordinary human bodies.

As a teenager from Sipoo Iris Heinonen didn’t like her own breasts.

He struggled for years with the fact that they didn’t look the same as in porn and advertising images. In public dressing rooms, Heinonen tried to cover himself and under no circumstances wore shirts without a bra.

Those days have come a long way. Helsinki-born Heinonen, 25, poses bare-breasted in the pictures of his own underwear company.

His purpose is to normalize ordinary human bodies. At the same time, Heinonen wants to question the sexualization of the naked female body.

“It would be wonderful to show the world that nudity can also be neutral and safe,” he says.

Iris Heinonen has a master’s degree in microbiology and has worked in sales and marketing alongside her studies. He ended up in the clothing industry sort of by chance.

Turn Heinonen’s relationship with his own body and nudity happened in the mid-2010s.

That’s when pictures of ordinary bodies, including stomach sausages, began to appear on censored social media. Body positivity hit the consciousness of Heinonen, who is on the threshold of adulthood, hard.

At the same time, she worked as a saleswoman in an underwear shop and got to witness day after day how especially older women apologized in the fitting room for how their bodies looked.

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“I realized that even though nudity is exceptionally normal here in Finland, many still have unrealistic expectations of what bodies or, say, breasts should look like.”

In order to seize the situation, Heinonen started a photography project before the corona era, in which he photographed the bare breasts of women of different ages. However, even sharing censored photos was difficult, as he immediately received the go-ahead from all social media platforms.

Today In the fall, Heinonen and his wife started selling unisex underwear. In the pictures, he poses with his partner Jarkko Luotolan with topless.

In the end, the decision to appear bare-breasted was easy for Heinonen, even though her close circle was initially worried about how, for example, future employers would react to the photos.

“Of course I understand the point, but it would actually be against my own values ​​to go to work in a place where this would be a problem. For me, the only right way was to throw myself into this fully”, says Heinonen.

Jarkko Luotola and Iris Heinonen topless in their brand’s photos.

Heinonen was prepared for the fact that the radical pictures might arouse nasty comments.

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“We recently had a big poster campaign along the metro line, and I expected hate mail to come from it. Instead, I got to hear how wonderful it is that big nipples can be seen somewhere for once,” he says.

Finn According to Heinonen, the culture of nudity is very rare by world standards. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in the swimming pool’s changing room, and you can also have fun in the sauna or open air without a swimsuit.

According to Heinonen, the best example of this culture can be found in Helsinki’s Sompasauna, which is now located in Hermanninranta.

“Something about the core of Finnishness crystallizes there, when as a young woman I can sit naked on the sauna boards with middle-aged men and feel safe.”

On the other hand, even in Finland it is very precisely defined where nudity is allowed or neutral. For example, on many beaches, women are not allowed to spend time topless, which has been protested against in recent years by the so-called in the name of tit flash mobs.

In the world, similar thinking is represented by someone born in the United States The #Freethenipple movement. Its purpose is to question why men are allowed to appear in public places with their upper body bare, but women’s breasts are ordered to be hidden.

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Even social media giants like Instagram and Tiktok are still very strict when it comes to nudity. Heinonen has had to censor women’s nipples on his company’s accounts again, and still publications are removed almost every week.

Heinonen packs and mails clothes from Helsinki’s Punavuori.

Heinonen says that he aims to expand his business abroad next. The first goal is the Nordic countries, followed by Germany and France.

However, the catalog may have to be adjusted according to the destination country. For the time being, they are not even trying to go to the more conservative southern European countries.

The boxer briefs are designed and packed in Helsinki’s Punavuori and manufactured in Barcelona, ​​Spain. Originally, Heinonen was looking for a manufacturer in Italy, but there he quickly ran into stale attitudes.

“A well-known Italian tailor refused to cooperate because, according to them, boxers are only for men. In Italy, using such images would be 100 times braver than in Finland,” he says.

“Although equality is not perfect even here, we are still 20 years ahead of many countries.”

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