Victoria’s Secret for tweens?

I can’t shake the feeling that I am aging by leaps and bounds lately. That has nothing to do with the fact that I totally lost bladder control while on a trampoline with my daughters today. But yea, that happened, too.

What makes me feel old is that I am more and more appalled by the younger generations. I seriously have to restrain myself from smacking certain teenie-boppers in the mall or buying a cane for the sole purpose of whacking kids attempting to walk and text simultaneously.

It wasn’t so long ago I was a teen myself (at least it doesn’t feel that long ago), but I am quickly becoming the cranky old lady who rolls her eyes and says, “Kids these days.”

The latest eye-roll-inducing moments for me came after reading two separate reports this week. The first is about Victoria’s Secret’s PINK brand being marketed to tweens. The lingerie brand once targeted college students and is now aiming for 15-year-olds. And with marketing antics like having Justin Bieber appear on the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, the sexy brand is even enticing 13-year-olds.

One mom blogged about the development saying, “What’s wrong with having fun, bright-colored underwear? Girls change all the time in front of each other — for sports or recreational activities that require it, at slumber parties or camp, for the school play … no one wants to be the girl with the ugly underwear. … That being said, if I ever see a lacy red bra or g-string marketed for my kid, you can bet I’ll have something to say about it — and it won’t be pretty.”

That’s a fine thought, but it’s a slippery slope. How much lace is too much? How thin is an actual g-string? Middle school is way too young to be worried about how sexy your underwear is or to even begin to think about dressing up your lady parts for someone else’s approval.

The second news item this week was an article about Internet porn reaching younger boys. Either through innocent google queries or a deliberate search, boys are being exposed to pornography at younger ages. Parents are having “the talk” with 8-year-olds who have seen sexual things on their own or their friends’ computers. And according to NBC news, now “the talk” isn’t just about the good old-fashioned birds and the bees; it includes things like “Daddy, why do men wear masks when having sex with women?”

Reading both of these articles in the same sitting made me want to cry and scream at the same time. It’s no wonder the LDS church recently tacked on a new value to the motto for its Young Women: virtue.

That’s a value in short supply in a world where pornographers feed images to young boys showing women as objects for gratification, and clothing companies willingly step up to dress girls for the part.

What do you think about sexualization at such young ages? Is it worrisome or am I just five cats shy of becoming the cranky old lady down the street?

10 comments

  1. Chris B

    Many people in Utah’s culture believe anything more than a potato sack is immodest and “sexy”. So if a girl wears a pair of underwear of bra with lace she is suddenly tranformed into “sexy” and “sexualized.”

    You people need to get a grip. There is nothing wrong with girls wanting to wear nice clothing, underwear included. I know some people wear underwear that covers you head to toe, but that doesn’t mean that people who don’t do that are “sexualizing” themselves.

    Just as wearing a nice shirt and pants instead of Walmart brand isn’t “sexualizing” a girl, wearing a nice pair of underwear and bra instead of the Walmart brand isnt’ sexualizing a young girl.

    You people are trying to make something out of nothing.

  2. Momof7

    For me, the problem isn’t companies marketing things, it’s people buying them. There are many items for sale that are inappropriate for children or anyone for that matter. I guess I worry more about what I teach my kids than what advertisers teach them. Unfortunately so often negative press is nothing more than free advertizement. I don’t buy the teeny-bopper magazines and we don’t have network or cable TV so we don’t see the ads. We don’t even shop at the mall very often and my tweens are certainly not wandering around the mall with friends. A parent’s counsel given in love is so much more influential than an ad campaign.

  3. citygrrl

    Erin, for me, the fear that I was becoming the “get off my lawn” woman started when I first hear rap and hip-hop music (I’m assuming there’s a difference). How could anyone listen to such noise? Then I realized I sounded just my parents in the 70s, when I loved Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bachman Turner Overdrive, etc. I think it’s a passage we all go through — it’s called “middle age.” I can see why some parents would think that cute underwear wasn’t crossing over into something too sexualized, and maybe by holding the line at something besides whity-tighties parents won’t make lingerie so enticing that their daughters won’t go overboard. I think with your concerns about the influence of less savory trends, and especially porn, you have to have faith that you are effectively reinforcing the values you want to instill. All kids will probably get exposed to things their parents wish they wouldn’t, but sometimes a well-timed comment observation, even if parents don’t realize it at the time, will do the trick to keep them in line. When I was a tween and teen, outwardly I was so rebellious to my parents, but inside I was glad they were strict and I listened to what they said. I just tried not to show it, because somehow I thought that would be admitting defeat. Hang in there.

  4. Lizzie M.

    It is very crucial to make sure you get the facts strait. Victoria’s Secret is not marketing towards the under 18 crowd. This was a false interpretation of some media outlets. Today VS released a statement:

    “Despite recent rumors, we have no plans to introduce a collection for younger women,” and added “‘Bright Young Things’ was a slogan used in conjunction with the college spring break tradition.

    I think most people would agree that selling sexually suggestive underwear to younger girls is wrong. VS may make underwear that is too much for some people and they should use follow their feelings on that. But let’s not make an issue out of a misunderstanding.

  5. John Charity Spring

    Stewart is absolutely correct. Far too many younger parents are failing to instill moral values in their children. This is especially true in matters of dress and grooming.

    Far too many share the attitude of Chris and citygirl that as long clothing is new and clean, it really doesn’t matter how revealing and immodest it is. Apparently, they are not bothered by young girls dressing like prostitutes, as long as they are fashionable.

    Anyone who supports this fashion trend is directly supporting the serialization and objectification of women and children. They deserve swift and severe condemnation for doing so.

  6. citygrrl

    JCS: My post wasn’t intended to state that parents should condone dress or grooming that is immodest or revealing. I am very bothered by young girls dressed like prostitutes. But there’s a long arc between Pretty Baby and the poor girls of Colorado City. Colorful underwear for girls in middle school does not mean they will turn into full-fleged tarts by age 16, and it doesn’t have to be equivalent to prurient dress. Tweens should be able to have some fun with fashion, including their underwear, w/o being sexually provocative.

  7. Mukkake

    [teenie-boppers]

    That word right there might be proof that you’re old, because nobody uses that word anymore. Not even ironically.

    [Parents are having “the talk” with 8-year-olds who have seen sexual things on their own or their friends’ computers. And according to NBC news, now “the talk” isn’t just about the good old-fashioned birds and the bees; it includes things like “Daddy, why do men wear masks when having sex with women?”]

    That seems like an acceptable age to explain such basic things. “The Talk” should happen BEFORE children begin puberty, so that they understand what is normal and to not be embarrassed about discussing those topics as they come up (So if something is actually wrong/abnormal it can be treated earlier).

    They should understand in advance that their bodies will be changing, as well as the bodies of the opposite sex, and what that entails. 8 years old for girls and 9 for boys is within the normal range for puberty to begin.

    Also, what’s so hard about explaining that the mask is just a harmless choice/preference? Is it any weirder than explaining that some people choose to continue to wear religious undergarments during sex?

  8. George of the jungle

    I felt the indestructible Jedi leave me when Bob Dillon sold out to Victoria Secret.

  9. Jeanie

    You are not turning into an old person. Don’t worry. You are just seeing things differently as a mom of kids who are growing. It is in our nature as parents to be keenly aware of our children’s surroundings and look for danger. That is what makes a parent different from a child. Children are concerned about fitting in, parents are concerned about their safely in a world that is not safe.

    As amusing of a picture potato sacks on girls is, it’s ok to wear things that are feminine and not soley utilitarian, just have a little care and reason. As far as VS goes, I don’t really trust any entity whose goal is to make money. They want to sell to anyone who will spend regardless of age. The business world is not concerned with morals, just profit.

    BTW- I use the word “teenie -bopper” and it makes my teens laugh. If parents can’t be “in” we can at least be amusing. :)

  10. Pete1215

    Girls who get enthralled with being attractive to boys and thus don’t develop their abilities will pay a steep cost. There is a steep price to this over-emphasis on sexiness.

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