“I am NOT a thing!”
These words came out of my 8 yr old’s mouth when I was talking to her about why I was upset about underwear. Underwear created by Victoria’s Secret supposedly for college aged women (according to a statement on their Facebook Page), but in reality 15-16 year olds (according to a statement by Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer), and by associations younger teens and tweens. The slogan for the new line of underwear is called Bright Young Things.
Things. Not girls, women, ladies, chicks… things. Ponder that for a moment. You are no longer a girl or a woman but a THING. Feel free to start to get mad now…. A THING doesn’t have feelings, a THING isn’t a person who can be violated. A THING can be used, discarded, laughed at… without feeling remorse.
I explained to Gabby that it had nothing to do with the actual lace and cotton, but about the words on that lace, the girls who the underwear are meant for. Girls who shouldn’t have inappropriate messages on their underwear to be cool and who shouldn’t worry about being sexy. And while I know that other companies have tries to tap into the tween demographic by using over sexualized products to sell, Victoria’s Secret is a lingerie company that also happens to sell sweats and tee shirts on the side. They are in the bra and underwear business.
Maybe you still think that parents are over reacting and that this line isn’t aimed at tweens, that college women are the target audience? How about the fact that Justin Beiber was the performer during their fashion show in November. I know tweens…. I have classes of them who very loudly vocalize their music preference, and Justin Beiber is their guy. College girls? Not so much.
Today alone I have read at least 5 blog posts, watched 2 news reports, and listened to a live conference regarding this topic. I am happy to see people talking about this because so much is at stake. It is not about the underwear alone. It is about the message we are sending to young girls about their body and their self worth. It is the message we are sending boys about the value of our girls. Is a girl only worth something if she is sexy?
Many commenters blame the parents. “If you don’t like it then don’t buy it” was written by many. And to a certain degree I completely agree. But companies need to take some responsibility for their marketing and products. Specifically marketing padded swim tops to 7-11 year olds, makeup to 8-12 year olds, and high heeled sneakers to 6-12 year olds is wrong.
It is a slippery slope of little girls wanting to be older younger and younger. Your 8 yr old daughter comes home and tells you the “cool” girl at school got her legs waxed and that she now wants her legs waxed. You explain that it isn’t appropriate, that body hair is normal and natural, and you let it go. However, at school your little girl is now getting made fun of for having hairy legs, she gets called names and is picked on. And thus the unattainable beauty standards viciousness begins.
So what should you do if you are a concerned/pissed parent? Well go here and sign the petition to start. Boycott companies whose products oversexualize young girls. Write letters, blog, and spread the word about this serious matter. But most importantly educate your girls about the importance of just being a kid and why it is better to wait for grown up stuff until she is grown up more. Say no to padded bras, mascara, high heels, thongs, and such to tweens and even young teens.
Want more resources?
This book is a good place to start, along with this one.
Also, this tee shirt says it all to me- a message I would be proud to have my daughters wear.