There has been a lot of commentary regarding Jenny Erickson‘s post about taking her “tween” daughter shopping at Victoria’s Secret. Jenny has said that her daughter, who is nine, has outgrown her Gymboree clothing and would rather shop at Justice, and that when her daughter needs new under-thingies she will be happy to take her shopping at VS. I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of Justice for girls, all the bling and fringed clothing, the quality, the fact that everything looks like a disco vomited all over it, and I tend to let my daughter select her clothing items from more “conservative” retailers, like J. Crew or The Tea Collection. My own daughter is eight, hardly a “tween” (and I would argue that any kid under 12 is still a child and not a tween) and even though I let her choose what she wears on her own, I limit her choices so she isn’t wearing something I would find weather or occasion inappropriate. And I won’t be “letting” her shop at Victoria’s Secret until she has a job and spends her own damn money on their thongs or push-up bras.
Yesterday XoJane ran an eloquent post by Joanna Schroeder who talks about having a son and how he wanted to wear big boy boxers and how she would have no issue taking a daughter to VS shopping if her daughter wanted to, because:
We need to stop putting our grown-woman bullshit on little girls, and remove the shame from growing up. Brightly colored panties from Victoria’s Secret probably aren’t going to harm a little girl, but being shamed for wanting them most likely will.
I agree with this totally. I see nothing wrong with lingerie, and I own enough lingerie to open my own lingerie mega-mall, but I will be the mom suggesting my own daughter, when she is much older than eight, frequent retailers other than VS to buy her skivvies from.
I don’t like Victoria’s Secret. I don’t like their gigantic wall-sized hyper-sexualized advertising that represents one size of women, with heavily photoshopped bodies, breast implants, and a very limited range of racial diversity. I don’t like their cultural appropriation. I don’t like their website which has the text BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS scrawled across it.
And I know from my own shopping experiences in panty buying that there are many other retailers to choose from, those who don’t devalue women by attempting to shove us all into pretty pink be-ribboned molds where we are reduced to a heavily-glossed pout and a thousand-yard come hither stare. There is nothing wrong with wanting pretty panties, but when a retailer’s entire marketing campaign, their very brand essence is revolved around the objectification of women, I feel that as a mom it’s a very wrong message to send to my own daughter.
I have zero issues with my daughter wanting pretty or fun panties, but I do have an issue with her wanting them because she feels that in order to be sexy the only place she can purchase her panties from is sandwiched in a giant pink store between a Pottery Barn and a Cheesecake Factory. When she is much older (and yes, much, much, much older than 8 or 9) I want her to feel just as sexy as she would in a T-shirt and boyshorts as she would in a $400 corset from LaPerla. I want her to grow up and feel just as confident of her own sexuality no matter what age she is, no matter what size she is, with makeup, without makeup, no matter what type of beauty she possesses at any stage of her life. And VS represents one type of beauty the majority of women at any age rarely fall into.
For me, it’s much less about having a daughter who wants to wear pretty or sexy underwear and more about raising a daughter who can be confident in her own inherent beauty and sexuality that she knows her beauty doesn’t come from a matching bra and panties. Sure, lingerie is all icing on the girl-cake, but as women I think we all deserve more than this typical brand of sticky pink frosting that doesn’t celebrate women in all of our diversity and strength.
(Photo: Victoria’s Secret)