Why I Can’t Shop at Victoria’s Secret
January 30, 2013
There comes a time in everyone’s life when it becomes necessary to make purchases of a… rather sensitive nature. And by that, I mean that underwear wears out. Recently, I have come to realize that I was, in fact, in the market for this particular necessity, and set out on a mission to find something reasonably priced, comfortable and, you know… Just functional. Not a big deal, right?
This particular need lead me to a trip to the mall with a couple of my girlfriends, who, despite my groans, swept me into Victoria’s Secret. After much deliberation, I finally settled on a purchase, if only so that we could leave so that I could get the rock out of my stomach which I always get immediately upon entering the store. However, this particular time, upon leaving to shop elsewhere, my shopping bag discretely stuck in my (way too big) purse, the heavy, sinking, unsettled feeling did not depart.
Strange, you think? What 20′s-something girl doesn’t shop at Victoria’s Secret? What high school or college student doesn’t “love PINK?” There are very few girls I know who have such a revulsion to the store itself… The only way I was able to relieve the guilt that I felt was to go back the next day and return what I’d bought. And why? Some days I feel like I really stand for very few things… I tend to ride the fence, not be opinionated enough to really make a stand against anything… I mean, I do what I think is right, but I lean towards moral relativism on a lot of things, which, yes, I do realize is illogical, but I just don’t have the time to reason through every issue there is to reason about… Except when it comes to a dumb underwear store. And why?
I think one of my dear friends put it very well– “[Victoria's Secret] is your antithesis. . . [It] is the exact opposite of what you believe about sexuality.” And it’s true. There are lots of places that sell underwear. Heck, there are a lot of places that sell lingerie. I don’t really have a problem with those places. It’s a necessity (for the most part), somebody’s got to sell it. However, I believe the conflict comes mainly in the marketing and advertising strategies… and somewhat in the products themselves.
For one thing, the store itself is plastered with models in sensual positions, with angel wings and seductive looks on their face– like they would like nothing better than to jump your bones if you’d just get close enough, with the wings implying the innocence of a virgin. The commercials are worse, and do we even need to discuss the kind of raw objectification occurring annually at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? The whole experience is just shy of flipping through a Playboy. There have been several guys in my life who have even dared to compare walking into the store to softcore pornography.
On the flip side, it would be one thing to sell that ideal to adults, but the Victoria’s Secret PINK brand is marketed at the younger crowd, mainly college and high school girls. And if the high school girls are getting into PINK, you can bet your buttons that the middle school girls aren’t going to be far behind. Above and beyond the fact that Victoria’s Secret is generally connected to PINK, exposing young girls to the seductive images and lingerie meant for a much later time in their young lives, the products themselves project only one message: “I [as a woman] am a sex object.” I mean, who doesn’t want underwear that say “Yes No Maybe” on the front? Too vague for your tastes? How about “Sure Thing?” Because, come on… What women doesn’t want to have sex with every man who walks into her life? “Let’s Make Out?” Or better yet, “Kiss and Tell.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen… This is what we are telling our young, impressionable girls. Not only can they support an overly consumeristic society by sporting “PINK” on every article of clothing they own, but now your daughters, too, can be an insatiable sex object.
At this point you may be thinking that I am a raging feminist who has her (non-name-brand) panties in a bundle, but this isn’t really about ending “sexism” or “abolishing a patriarchal mindset.” It is about the message that we are sending to our nation’s people– particularly the younger generations. It is the message that sex is meaningless, women have no voice in the matter, and men are allowed to take what they want, regardless of the needs or wants of anybody else. By promoting that mindset, we lose something fundamental to a genuine human existence. Not only does it create girls who are sexually misused, and have no self-esteem, but it creates boys who have no respect for women. Both sexes lose dignity and a right to experience sex as it should be, namely, a meaningful, loving bond, created out of deep and intimate care and respect for the other person. I do not blame Victoria’s Secret for our culture that says that women are only good for one thing, and that is the only standard they should live up to. The franchise is merely a response to the cultural norms which already exist. The question we must ask ourselves, then, is can I, as a mindful consumer, justify using my valuable buying power to promote something that in turn promotes an incredibly broken part of our society? At least for me, the answer is no.