Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I'm NOT Buying 'Em and Neither Should You: Victoria's Secret Aims New Marketing Campaign at Young Girls

I believe in the power of community, friends.  So, I'm asking for your help.

This week, I learned about Victoria's Secret's marketing campaign for their line PINK, a brand supposedly aimed at college girls.   For Spring Break 2013, their slogan is: "Bright Young Things."   I. Am. Livid.  The thong panties released as part of the campaign feature statements such as "Dare You," "Wild," and "Call Me" emblazoned on the backside.

Before I ever became a parent, I feel like I heard and read much about the growing dangers of sexual predators.  We've become hyper vigilant about protecting our children from the suspected molester lurking in the shadows.  We are suspicious of our neighbors and afraid to let our children venture far beyond our front doors.

But, there is another huge force preying on our children that we've neglected to protect them from-and it's just as dangerous: the constant barrage of overtly sexual marketing aimed at children, young girls in particular. "According to the American Psychological Association, the girlie-girl culture’s emphasis on beauty and play-sexiness can increase girls’ vulnerability to the pitfalls that most concern parents: depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, risky sexual behavior." -Peggy Orenstein, Cinderella Ate My Daughter.
A pair of underwear released as a part of the marketing campaign,  "Bright Young Things" by Victoria's Secret.
In other words, this type of marketing is not without consequence.  This new Spring Break marketing campaign pressures girls into thinking that promiscuous sex is just another rite of passage every girl needs to experience to have fun on spring break, whether or not she is old enough to consent  or is ready to make adult decisions about her health and her body is none of Victoria's Secret's concern.   Our daughters deserve better.  And, yes, as parents we can make decisions to counteract these messages in our homes, but there needs to be a larger societal shift in what we allow, what we buy into, and simply what we buy.  Because this isn't about imposing some modern-day chastity belt on young girls.  This is about the collective messages girls receive about their capabilities, and about their value- and about who stands to profit when a girl's aspirations shift from who she can be to who she should sleep with or who she should look like in order to be seen, heard, and loved.

Since coming under fire this week, Victoria's Secret has insisted their campaign is just a "slogan" and their line PINK is aimed at college girls, not younger teens.  But, I don't believe them.  The Limited is a corporate giant, with very skilled marketers promoting their brands.  A team of advertisers carefully considers every angle of every new campaign before it's released.   The vague title, "Bright Young Things" leaves us to wonder what are the things?  The clothes? The girls?  The ambiguous ages of the gaunt, youthful models featured leaves interpretation of "young" up to the imagination.  The panties themselves bedazzled with bling, neon colors, and seemingly playful statements are more befitting of what would otherwise be seen in the tween section of your local department store if it weren't for the fact that they're thongs. 

Victoria's Secret knows exactly what they're doing.  When a pedophile does it, it's called grooming.  Carefully calculated acts that in and of themselves can be interpreted as playful, even innocent when called into question.  But, you and I know better, Victoria's Secret.  And I'm not buying 'em: the panties OR the excuses.

Please, if you haven't already, go and sign the petition to pull this marketing campaign at www.change.org/brightyoungthings.  Together, we can positively affect the world our girls live in and how they see themselves in it.

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