We Bite Back

Victoria's Secret
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Author:  delenda [ Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

Sometimes I think it's okay to turn oneself into a sexual object. If you're having sex with someone who would appreciate you just as much in grungy shorts and a tank top, but tonight you're a doll dressed up in lingerie for him to "play with", I don't see an issue with it. It's fun for both parties, and he'll still respect you in the morning. As long as being the object isn't your identity, or your goal in attracting someone, it's fine in my books. I enjoy participating in it.

Is it okay for a 13 year old girl to turn herself into a sexual object? I don't know. It really depends on the girl. I think at that age, some girls do understand the nature of sex and the dynamics of sexual relationships. But I think the majority girls are going to want to buy those panties just because they're "sexy" and in their underdeveloped minds, "sexy" = "worthy".

:topic: I had a really good sense of humor about these things at a young age. And this isn't exactly a new phenomenon, except that this line is specifically marketed at teenage girls... there's nothing to stop teenagers from buying panties from a "grown up" line... when I was 14 or 15, I had a pair of thong underpants that said "call me" on them, and my girlfriend and I took a fabric pen to them and changed it into "don't call me, my herpes is flaring up". I mean, if you're looking at my panties, and they say "call me", that's ridiculous. You don't need to call me; you're already seeing my panties.

Author:  kkat [ Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

It is interesting to me the research on teenager's brains and the fact that the development of their brains isn't complete so that this affects the judgments make. Often I look at things and think "gee, well if I was 14 I wouldn't be affected by such and such or I would never have made that decision at that age because it is so obviously a bad decision." However, I continually see teens making decisions that make no sense to me as an adult. So know I have started to wonder if maybe the things I think are so clear cut really aren't as clear for a teenager. Thus, do we have to be MORE conservative in how we approach things like this for just that reason?

Author:  delenda [ Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

Yeah, I did a lot of dumbass things at 14 I would never do now. I don't really know how I got out alive, to be honest. But I also did things yesterday I wouldn't do today...

I think this one of those tricky situations where you have to ask yourself where corporate responsibility ends and personal responsibility begins. How far can VS push this? Are they going to start making lace-up corsets for 14 years olds? Because Le Chateau already does that, and I had one at 14. The difference is, they weren't marketed to teenagers, just "petite adults".

If VS is going to be selling these panties to children, I think they also have a responsibility to be promoting safe sex, whether that be through donations to some kind of public service/hotline that teaches teenagers about safe sex or through some other means, perhaps having workshops or seminars where you don't need your parents consent to attend.

This entire thing is extra bizarre because the US, in my opinion, has such fucked up views on teens and sex. I should probably do more research before I start running my mouth here, but aren't most sex-ed programs in the US abstinence-based, if they are offered at all? It's been proven that doesn't work, and the US has one of the highest statistics regarding incidences of teen pregnancy.

Author:  Persephone [ Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

Well, I was MAD into corsets and any kind of lace-up undies when I was 17/18. But because I have virtually no boobs I found it so hard to find any that fit. But my reason for liking them was maybe unusual, I liked having a 'secret' and having really sexy underwear that nobody ever saw. That underneath my 'good girl' exterior was something else. In fact, when I went to my debs (Irish prom) my date got the shock of his life (in a good way!) when he realised I was wearing a corset plus suspenders etc. But I wasn't wearing them for him, or to be cool or anything. It was my own little private joke.
And the first time i went to New York without my mom, we did what all Irish girls let loose in New York do: head to a VS store! I was 21 and my sister was sixteen at the time. I bought comfy cotton panties with VS logo on the waistband and she bought 'boy shorts' because thats what she liked. I think it depends on the girl maybe. I think if a fifteen year old really wants to wear them, they'll track them down. But I don't agree with blatant marketing of them. Again, if my daughter wanted them, I'd ask her to examine her motivation. But I don't think I could stop her.
If they were aimed at twelve years old's though (like the padded bras), that's a whole different story...

Author:  eniebee [ Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

It is all about taste - I guess we all wear things for a reason...
Why do I wear girl-shorts? - they'll be some psychological reason - maybe I am brushing up to my tomboy side? :P

I remember wearing some smaller briefs with meow on them when I was a 13/14 year old - I was quite niave so I probs didn't see anything wrong with them but yes, I kinda had that attitude where 'no ones guna see it! hehe i'm just being cheeky' thing. :P

Author:  komich [ Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

eniebee wrote:
It is all about taste - I guess we all wear things for a reason...
Why do I wear girl-shorts? - they'll be some psychological reason - maybe I am brushing up to my tomboy side? :P

I remember wearing some smaller briefs with meow on them when I was a 13/14 year old - I was quite niave so I probs didn't see anything wrong with them but yes, I kinda had that attitude where 'no ones guna see it! hehe i'm just being cheeky' thing. :P

Because they're really comfy? (They are I know I own a few pairs).

Author:  Kate the great [ Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

As an 11-year-old in a gym class where we had to dress out each day, I was mortified by my ever-present panty lines and so jealous of the girls' whose parents would let them get underwear with a bit less coverage. Some of them were pretty lace, but I don't remember any racy slogans, not that I was staring at other folks' crotches the whole time, so I may have missed some.

However, as was mentioned above, I think that what we need to be questioning is advertising our vaginas/sexuality on our underwear 24/7. I like lace and pretty things as much as the next gal, but "call me", really? Who exactly is supposed to be seeing your underwear who you don't already know? Then again, I have some that I didn't realize until I'd had them for a while that said "go team!" amidst all the cheer paraphenalia doodles. That seemed odd to me, but I guess maybe they just think we need to broadcast some message, any message, with what we use to separate our most delicate bits from our pants and/or the elements.

If I had a pre-teen daughter and she wanted to wear a thong, so be it. But we would have quite the discussion before I ever bought her one of these numbers.

Author:  delenda [ Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

I just went back to the first page and looked at the slogans, and "call me" is actually pretty tame.

"Let's make out"? Are you supposed to just flash your panties at someone to see that, as if flashing your panties isn't enough of a message? I don't think anyone I wasn't already kissing would be seeing me in my panties. And if they were, it would be a friend I happened to be getting changed in front of or folding laundry in front of, and the message wouldn't be for them.

"I dare you" is actually a little worrisome, on anyone's panties.

I did some more research on it, and Bright Young Things isn't actually a line. It's park of PINK, which is aimed at college-aged girls. But the CFO of the company fucked up big time when he said, "When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink." which is what started all the outrage about this line being aimed at preteen girls. But hey, who do preteens wanna be like? 15 and 16 year olds.

Author:  delenda [ Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

More about it here.


Author:  Spender [ Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

And despite the apparent right-wing conspiracy (and I agree, it is clear that some of the opposition arose largely from the cadre for "traditional family values"), it does seem that there is some grey area where VS is engaging in some kind of stealth marketing aimed at the lucrative tween and young teen crowd:

Why We Should All Burn Our Victoria's Secret Bras
By Kathleen Sykes
Thursday, April 4, 2013

This may be a departure from what I normally talk about, but I’ve held my tongue long enough. My big secret is that I hate Victoria’s Secret.

I hate them for many of reasons. Their products are really low quality and way too expensive. I can never find a bra that doesn’t have more padding than bra. Their sales girls won’t help you find a thing, but are so eager to get your address, so they can send you catalogs for the rest of your life. If you're a larger girl, you can count on them not having your size. And in all of my years of going there they have never once fit me in the correct size bra. Seriously—when I was finally fit in the correct size at a department store, I was shocked to find that these iron-clad, rib-crunching contraptions could be comfortable.

Really, the list can go on and on for a long time, but, surprisingly, none of these is the reason why I don’t buy from them anymore. If there was one thing that changed my mind about VS, it was this article by Beauty Redefined, a non-profit run by two PhD candidates in Salt Lake City who study the way the media affects body-image.

This article analyzes the marketing strategy of VS and backs it up with an incredible amount of research. Lindsay and Lexie, the owners of Beauty Redefined, say that since its inception VS has been toting the message that they want to make women feel “empowered”. A surprising amount of their marketing practices, however, tend to send the message that being empowered, independent and powerful has to do with being sexy.

I'm not sold on the bandwagon with this the wearing-less-clothing-makes-you-sexy-which-makes-boys-notice-you-which-makes-you-powerful brand of feminism. While I like boys and beauty and fashion, I would like to think that being smart and doing things are what make me cool, not the attention I get from looking nice. I can't say I've never been on this bandwagon because, yes, I've bought clothing with the thought in mind "Oh no! What will boys think about me?!" I was dressing for other people; I'm guilty of breaking rule 3a.

I would be completely okay with marketing campaigns for underwear if they just showed happy people in underwear, but Vicky's is something else entirely.

If you have at least one functional eye, you can see that they send this message in a lot of their promotional activities and with their products. Their stores have floor to ceiling posters of seductively-posed, scantily-clad women; their catalogs are almost more like a Playboy than a clothing catalog; and the photography in their promotional materials is edited to the point of a body-shame inducing shell of what the models once were. Their art-directors must be on crack because every two weeks a picture of a VS model with a missing leg or something surfaces on the internet.

Also, my bleeding feminist heart can’t help but feel like selling underwear that says, “feeling lucky?” and “I dare you” sends some very dangerous messages about femininity and sexuality.

Let me get this straight: I have nothing wrong with cute underwear; I love cute underwear! I also have nothing wrong with “sexy”—but I think there is a time and place for it. What I do have a problem with is a company sending the message that all of your value as a woman is based on how sexy you are—and nothing else. In light of VS’s release of their Bright Young Things line (ahem, we are people not things) which is allegedly targeted at college-age girls, I especially have a problem with a company sending this message to kids.

Yes, that’s right. VS is sending this message to young girls. I might let them off of the hook if I thought that this wasn’t intentional, but using Justin Bieber to promote this line during the VS fashion show makes me believe otherwise. The company may have announced that this line was targeted at college age girls (18-24 year olds), but everything from the models they use to the way they present the products makes it look more like it is aimed towards the 12-17 year old range.

I hope that I’ve made it clear in my blog posts that people—that means you—are much more valuable than what you could ever wear or look like (see the Golden Rule), and as the ladies at Beauty Redefined would say: “You are capable of much more than being looked at.”

This is what you can do: Don’t buy Victoria’s Secret’s products. Companies might not react if you write a letter or complain about them, but they will have to listen if they aren’t making any money. Also, while you're at it, do some research on media literacy, so you can really understand the messages you are being hit with every day and know how to fight back.

Let's go misbehave.

These Elements of Style

Author:  Spender [ Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Victoria's Secret

Victoria’s Dirty Little Secret
By Lindsay Kite and Lexie Kite

You’ve probably heard VS rolled out a line of lingerie for teens called “Bright Young Things.”As part of the PINK brand for all the teenaged “things” across the world, these undies feature polka-dot hipsters with “Feeling Lucky?” printed on them, a lacey thong with the words, “I dare you” on the front, and so much more. This isn’t some conservative “too sexy, too soon!” cry. This is doctoral research into Victoria’s Secret — a company that profits by selling sexually objectifying and limiting messages to all ages and claiming it is “empowering.” This may give words to the feelings you’ve been having about how harmful this brand is, so read on.

Some of you may be thinking, “But VS just came out with a statement claiming they never targeted young girls – this is a line for college-aged women!” And I would say “Yes, they did just make that claim because of massive upheaval among parents and news organizations. But let’s look at the facts: The ”Bright Young Things” models and others in the PINK line reflect the less curvaceous young girl-like bodies NOT typical of VS in any way. Justin Bieber was the headliner at VS’s “fashion” show – he’s a tween’s dream. The CFO of VS said what anyone who sees their marketing can guess – they are targeting young teens while not claiming it publicly. Of course VS is marketing to young girls! But that’s to be expected. VS isn’t going anywhere, and neither are those that will back VS til the day they die. It’s pointless and emotionally draining to fight them. Instead, we use media literacy to educate people on an individual level about the marketing tactics of these companies and why it encourages feelings of shame in girls and women of all ages and backgrounds who see that they could never meet the ideals presented. When their marketing isn’t instilling feelings of shame, it encourages girls who feel they could fit the ideal with the right products to buy those products and emphasize those parts. Either way, it diminishes the power of girls and women who have SO MUCH more to do and be than be looked at.” Now keep reading!

In the US and now across the world, a multi-billion-dollar corporation has been fighting a tough battle for “female empowerment” since 1963, and based on their crazy success, women appear to be quite literally buying what this company is selling. Holding tight to a mission statement that stands first and foremost to “empower women,” and a slogan stating the brand is one to “Inspire, Empower and Indulge,” the company “helps customers to feel sexy, bold and powerful.” This is accomplished by mailing hundreds of millions of catalogs to homes each year, constant TV commercials all hours of the day, a CBS primetime show viewed by 100 million, and 1,500 mall storefront displays in the U.S. alone. And to the tune of $5 billion every year, women are buying into the “empowerment” sold by Victoria’s Secret, the US’s No. 1 lingerie retailer. “Our main appeal is for women. We are not for men to look at but for women to feel good about themselves,” their spokesperson said in the late ‘90s. Hmmmm…. Let’s investigate this!

Friends, Beauty Redefined stands behind a solid truth: You are capable of much more than being looked at. And when the most powerful companies in the world profit off of teaching you that your body – specifically your enhanced, bound, lotioned, glittered, posed, surgically and digitally altered parts of your body – are your only source of “empowerment,” they are lying to you. When you find out the truth about your body, you learn the truth about your power, your beauty, and where your happiness can be found. Lindsay and I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in media studies and body image and are now finishing the fourth and final year of our Ph.D.s – and I have spent the last year buried in research on Victoria’s Secret.

The Summer 2012 VS catalog updated with our helpful reminders that “there is more to be than eye candy” and “you are capable of much more than being looked at”!

In November 2011, I went to New Orleans to present this research at a huge national conference where I won “top paper” in the Feminism and Women’s Studies Division! So why not share this with you too?! Right now I invite you to go on this journey with me – I’ll give you the fast forwarded version – and you’ll move from angry to motivated, too. Promise!

Victoria’s Dirty Little Secret: She Got an Extreme Makeover!

From VS’s birth in 1963 as a place for men to buy lingerie for their wives in a classical, comfortable setting to a now women-only club, VS has undergone an extreme makeover. From working women shopping the pastel-painted stores for European-inspired lingerie to lacquered black stores with sky-high photos of unclothed models, pounding music pumping and seductively posed mannequins, this was a makeover of the most radical kind. Back in the day, VS executives were quoted saying, “We represent beauty and artwork. We’re not as explicit or cheesy as Frederick’s of Hollywood,” which is a sneaky way of presenting themselves as “safe” and non-pornographic in an artistic sort of way. The ONLY scholarly analysis of VS’s ads took place in the late ’90s, when feminist scholar Jane Juffer claimed the company was distributing pornography into homes, doctor’s offices, and mall storefronts all while claiming to be selling “decorous products in a Victorian manner.” While she stated no models were featured in beds or bedrooms so as to not appear overtly pornographic, today’s models are sprawled across bear-skin rugs in centerfold spreads, posed on beds wearing panties with buttocks’ jutted in the air and fingers in their mouths, and lying down with only bottoms on, tugging at their hair, reflective of pornography. Besides the obvious employment of digital and surgical enhancement as a new industry standard unknown in the ‘90s, the current “Angels” are oiled up, with long, flowing hair, heavy makeup, decadent jewelry, and sky-high platform heels. Victoria’s Secret has now made a great name for itself as some of the most extreme Photoshoppers of all time. Models limbs tend to go missing quite often, as the spaces in between their thighs suddenly widen more than a living person can handle.

VS’s mission statement stating a driving force to “empower women” and help women “feel sexy, bold, and powerful” is paired alongside thongs on digitally altered pornographically posed bodies in unquestioned ways on our coffee tables, TV sets, and storefront windows. In October 2012, Victoria’s Secret opened one of its ”PINK” store in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas — the first time the company has opened a store at a professional sports venue. Remember, their “main appeal is for women. We are not for men to look at but for women to feel good about themselves.” And while the PINK line at VS is “technically” for college girls, a VS executive claimed it’s actually designing for a younger audience in mind. “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said at a conference. “They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink.” Hmmmm….that logic inexplicably tells us the “Bright Young Things” line for teens is most definitely a line for tweens AND YOUNGER.

Today, normalized pornography like that in VS’s advertisements, catalogs, and “fashion shows,” seeks to “empower” us by convincing us that unlike sexist media in the past that objectifies women against their will, this stuff is “just for us” now and has nothing to do with men. While men are never spoken about in text or featured in the images, the willful objectification of women posing for women is presented not as a way to seek men’s approval, but as pleasing ourselves, and in doing that, we might “just happen” to win men’s (or women’s) gazing admiration. Want a few examples? In the 2010 Christmas Dreams catalog, women have the opportunity to buy panties with sayings, like Page 32’s “ALL NIGHT SHOW” and “Unwrap Me” thongs. If these photos and the lingerie itself is “for women to feel good about themselves and not for men to look at,” who do they expect to read these slogans behind the women? On Page 32, a full-page photo of a model wearing a thong and push-up bra states “There’s just 2 things I want for Christmas: The ‘Miraculous’ instantly adds 2 sizes.” “Sexy, bold, power” means big breasts are key to our power, happiness, worth, and have nothing at all do with people looking at us.

You see, where once sexualized images of women in media presented us as passive, mute objects of an assumed “male gaze,” today we are presented as active, desiring sexual subjects who choose to present ourselves in an objectified manner because it suits our “liberated” feminist interests to do so. I argue VS advertising adds a further layer of truly harmful oppression. The brand’s official slogan is “We are redefining what it means to be sought-after,” and in this regard, the company is NOT exaggerating. Not only are women objectified as they have been, but through sexual objectification, we must also now understand our own posed, enhanced, bound, sexualized, bodies as pleasurable and self-chosen. Plus, the Limited Too, a retail chain owned by Limited Brands (same company that owns VS) that targets girls ages 7 on up sells “sexy lingerie” such as camisoles and lacy panties – including thongs – in what can only be seen as a move to prepare their girl customers to buy Victoria’s Secret lingerie as soon as they are able to do so. On top of that, now their “Bright Young Things” collection outrightly sexualizes the youngest of females in appalling ways. Thanks, VS!

The time-wasting, body-hating self-objectification proved to go hand-in-hand with such “bold, sexy, powerful” ideals – though ideal for an industry raking in $5 billion a year and expanding across the globe – is not a great pathway to real progress as females or as a culture. The values Beauty Redefined stand for include control over our bodies, freedom, happiness, and an understanding of our power and worth. Victoria’s Secret represents a crazy, fun-house mirror reflection of those values – a fake form of power. When the desire only to be desired is our No. 1 priority, we lose ourselves, our control, freedom, happiness, and worth.

In the case of Victoria’s Secret, a push-up bra and thong that says “best kisser” are made to stand for “empowerment” in a way that basically slaps us in the face. If you believe me – and you should!! – then the time to fight back is now. Let’s take back beauty, healthy sexuality that involves MUCH more than what we LOOK like, and happiness for every female that needs to find it.

Beauty Redefined

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