I know. It’s crazy. I refuse to shop at Victoria’s Secret. Believe me, it’s not because I don’t believe in sex. Or lingerie. Or secrets.
I understand the store’s founder wanted to create an environment where men could buy lingerie for their wives without feeling dirty. However their larger than life window ads and live catwalks of scantily clad models makes it impossible for me to walk by their store without feeling dirty.
Somewhere in the 60s in the midst of purple haze and free love, someone forgot to warn us that unchecked sexual behavior breeds self-gratification and emptiness, not the freedom we are looking for.
Freedom comes from being accepted and known in our most vulnerable moments and who wouldn’t agree that taking your clothes off in front of another person and allowing them into your most personal spaces is one of the most vulnerable places to be?
Let’s face it. Sex sells. Put a potato sack on a beautiful woman and you’ve got a winner of a marketing campaign. The problem is we’re selling these images to our girls as what to aspire to and to our boys as what they need in a woman.
I have a feeling that beautiful lingerie would sell without the catwalk and one-storey sized ads with women in underwear in your store windows. But somewhere in the marketing department of Victoria’s Secret years ago, someone decided they wanted to sell sex instead of intimacy.
Making love with my husband is one of my favorite activities. Making him happy and loving him in a deep and meaningful way is at the top of my list. There’s a big difference between celebrating physical beauty and celebrating sexual casualness. The cavalier way in which we promote and condone advertising our bodies as eye candy to be used by men for their personal viewing and physical pleasure is like cutting our nose off to spite our face. We teach our young girls to aspire to something that won’t last instead of working to be women with confidence, strength, and integrity – things that make a lasting impact on the world around us and will no doubt attract men in droves.
That’s why Victoria’s Secret won’t cash in from this mama. I’m more interested in my girls growing up understanding they are worth more and have more to offer the world than the sum measurement of their hips, waist, and breasts. I’m more interested in shielding my son from pictures that cause him to misunderstand that beauty comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes.
I want my children to understand that making love to another person is just that – making something out of the mystery that happens when two people come together without the expectations of performance and perfection. Real-life love cannot be airbrushed or duct-taped or padded.
Mohammed Ali said it best when he told his daughters why he expected them to dress modestly:
“Everything that God made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to.
Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them.Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.
LOVE! I couldn’t agree more!
Amen!!! I could not agree more! I love the quote from Mohammed Ali. I will be sharing that with my daughter when the the time comes.
YES! I couldn’t agree more! When I was first married, someone bought me something from Victoria’s Secret. Neither my husband, nor do I care for some of the things they sell there, and I was returning the gift – with the receipt, new, unworn, yatta yatta. They refused to give me any money back, and instead gave me a gift card. I told them I would never be buying anything from them again. They didn’t seem to care. So I gave the gift card away, and have not looked back. Now with three young boys and two daughters, I hate to walk by a Victoria’s secret in the mall ( we don’t go often) nor do I appreciate the lingerie isles in regular stores. Even at Target I have to tell my kids to advert their eyes. Stores like to place the lingerie isle in plain view.
Anyhow, thank you for your article, I don’t think I could have said it better myself!
Well said, Leighann.
Maybe if you raised your children by teaching them to respect a woman and her body then walking by Victoria’s secret or the lingerie aisle at target would not be a problem. Do you have the same problem at a beach or public pool? Women wear sometimes less than would be covered by Victoria’s secret lingerie. Should we all just cover up lest these humans whose minds you have so warped can’t control their sexual reactions? Can you also not have swimsuit catalogs in your home (it might trigger your husband or son!) It is up to YOU as the parent to teach your sons to respect women and to control their sexual urges and respond to them in an appropriate way. Not to shelter them from anything that might be considered a trigger. And to the poster who was upset that Victoria’s secret didn’t give her money back -that’s standard procedure for any store when you return something without a receipt. Definitely not exclusive to VS
So my comment will be somewhere in the middle. I have a few things from VS. I actually don’t like a whole lot of their stuff because I find their sizes are weird in bras and some things frankly aren’t comfortable. On the other hand, their yoga pants and work out shorts are fantastic! I totally agree with you that some girls grow up believing that their self-worth is what is viewed on the outside and try to reach that unattainable goal of perfect outer beauty, while the inner beauty is never nourished. So I absolutely understand your desire for your girls to not fall into that trap. I would just say this, when you make a blanket statement to kids about why something is bad and they should never ever shop there, expect them to be that much more curious about it and want to check it out. It’s human nature. You can’t shield them from what they will see everywhere. As the one commenter stated above….the “intimate” section is in every store. I personally think telling kids to avert their eyes on something like that can lead to its own set of issues. Lets face it, girls will wear bras and little panties and boys at some point in their lives will want to see them too. Perhaps taking them into a VS or another similar section when they are of appropriate age and walking around and explaining that certain pieces of clothing are worn after marriage as something special if they want to, but you can still feel cute by wearing more practical bras and undies, maybe that have fun designs but less lace. I had a friend in high school who had a terrible self image. Her mom, as she put it, made her wear “grandma bras and underwear”. Her mom made her feel she was ugly simply by making her wear clothing that really was not suited for a teenage girl. She was mortified at gym and any other time where we might all be undressing at the same time. My mom never said what I could or couldn’t wear. I just picked out things which were pretty, but covered what needed to be covered. I am a true believer that if you raise your children correctly, make sure they have friends who are like-minded, limit and watch over their social media time, that the child as they mature will make smart decisions on their own. BUT children will fail and make poor decisions during the course of growing up and that’s the teachable moment as their parent. There will come a time that your child will fly the nest. Don’t you want them to have the ability to make informed decisions based on experience? In my opinion, the child who is not allowed to experience certain aspects of life while under the roof of the parent, is the same child that goes hog wild when they go off to college.
Wendy, Well put. I don’t tell my girls anything about Victoria’s Secret. They see plenty of pretty undies and bras (and lingerie which they think are nightgowns for mommies if they happen through my drawers) around our house. They don’t have to go to the mall for that! My contention with VS is that they over-sexualize their ads and storefronts to the point that it’s impossible to separate feminine beauty from sexual exploitation. It’s their attitude I’m disagreeing with… I want my girls to understand the difference. What’s great is that at 9 and 7 they already do… we talk about sex freely, they ask questions and giggle. And when we do happen to be at the mall and pass VS I don’t say a word. They say, “Mom, that’s inappropriate…” and avert their eyes. What they mean isn’t the bra or lingerie. What they mean is the ad itself – – having a woman bearing almost all for the world to see in a manner that clearly denotes sexual intention. I know I differ with some people on this issue – – what is modest and what is not. I would go as far as to venture it’s an attitude and not always what you are wearing. VS ads sell women as objects. Period. My goal is for my girls to respect themselves enough to know that their bodies are only part of what they have to offer (and hopefully to a limited number of partners in a serious and intimate way).
I absolutely agree with what you said. I know what you mean about VS and their ad. I definitely believe it is an attitude at times, more that what is being worn. Same outfit on two different girls can give off a much different message. Perhaps because my girls are older (18 and 12), I’m more concerned with what they can find and talk about on the internet (even with the many security measures in place limiting what my 12 year old can see). I tell you, we have our work cut out for us in the raising of girls who will have a good body image, yet use common sense and have a sense of decorum and modesty as well. It’s hard raising girls in this “social media, everyone knows everything” environment. I don’t have a son so I can’t say what it is like to raise a boy, but boys don’t seem to suffer from self-esteem issues or be targeted by ads as much as girls.
I really love your blog and what you write. It’s very thought provoking. You come across so genuine and articulate. I can tell your girls (and Ryan too) will grow up with a solid foundation of life experiences and lots of love.
Very well said. I don’t shop there either. I can’t help but see all the GIRLS these days wearing their clothes so that their underwear shows. They wear PANTY HOSE as PANTS with short shirts that fall off one shoulder or are all torn up to show their lacy bra. I see girls dressed like this while out with their mother! I so badly want to go up to the mother and say, “Don’t be surprised or wonder what happened to your little girl when she becomes pregnant at 16. You are just ASKING for that to happen by letting her dress that way.” I never do say that, but I want to.