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A Victoria's Secret Pink store in Newport Beach, Calif.
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret
A Victoria's Secret Pink store in Newport Beach, Calif.

Moms fighting Victoria’s dirty little secret

Parenting

Twenty-two years ago, my military-wife friends and I used to spend our Friday evenings at Victoria’s Secret looking for something special to wear when our Marine husbands returned home from the Gulf War.

We each had different tastes, but most of us drooled over the classy underpieces, like cream-colored satin garters or shimmery pale pink robes. The store was filled with high-quality, beautiful underwear that any mature woman would enjoy wearing.

After a recent trip to the mall with my married daughter, I can tell you, Victoria’s Secret has come a long way, baby, but in the wrong direction. I was hard-pressed to find anything that wasn’t chartreuse, hot pink, or leopard-printed. In place of pretty, classy pieces were gaudy-colored bras and boy shorts. Worse, many items were splashed with words no married woman I know would want pasted across her privates.

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A group called The Mommy Lobby is calling for a peaceful protest of Victoria’s Secret stores tomorrow over just such words after the company posted a commercial The Mommy Lobby says promotes the sexualization of young girls.

The commercial, meant to promote a new line of lingerie called “Bright Young Things,” under the larger label PINK, supposedly targets college-aged women aged 18 to 22. In reality, much younger girls, wanting to dress and look like older ones, are purchasing such items as panties that say, “Now or Never,” “Dare Me,” and “Feeling Lucky?”

Isn’t that just what you want your 13-year-old wearing?

I appreciate Mommy Lobby’s efforts to protect the innocence and purity of their daughters, but pressuring the company to change its policy doesn’t address the real issue, which is, why are young girls buying sexy underwear in the first place?

It reminds me of a family I know who had the strictest of standards for their daughter’s dress. Jeans with holes, back pockets that rode just the wrong way, or anything approaching a low-rider were verboten. But, as a nod to the girl’s desire to feel pretty, there were no rules whatsoever for the kinds of underwear she was allowed to wear, which, as I discovered on a clothes hunting trip, were most mature in nature. In other words, it’s OK (and parent approved!) to wear the skimpiest of undies, just as long as your jeans aren’t ratty. In the parent’s minds, there didn’t seem to be any connection between that sort of underwear and sexuality, apparently a parenting phenomenon Victoria’s Secret seems bent on exploiting to the fullest.

The unfortunate fact is, raunchy underwear is available to any girl with an Amazon.com account and a debit card. Basic laws of supply and demand are at work, even in the lingerie industry. Although I’m not crazy about anything that goes on at Victoria’s Secret, the fact is, they wouldn’t be selling underwear to young girls if young girls weren’t buying it.

Rather than running to put out the fires at Victoria Secret, or perhaps in addition to doing that, we need to educate our daughters about what gives them value, who defines their beauty, and when and where lace and satin are best incorporated.

For there is a place, but it isn’t with our prepubescent 12-year olds.

Amy Henry
Amy Henry

Amy is a married mother of six and a WORLD correspondent from Kansas. Follow her other "scribbles" at Whole Mama or by reading her book Story Mama: What Children's Stories Teach Us About Life, Love and Mothering. Follow Amy on Twitter @wholemama.

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