It Won’t Be ‘Slut-Shaming’ When I Refuse To Take My Daughter Shopping At Victoria’s Secret

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 7.22.09 AMThere 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.

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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)

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    • alice

      “And I know from my own shopping experiences in panty buying that there are many other retailers to choose from…”

      My only issue is: are there?? where???? i want them!

      I have a very hard time finding *affordable* lingerie stores around me besides VS and Fredricks (which is basically just marketed towards strippers.) I’m open to suggestions :)

      re: kiddos, yeah, the underwear section at Target is just fine, imo.

      • Tinyfaeri

        Bare Necessities is an online shop that has a nice selection, and a huge variety of sizes – and they have pretty easy returns. Personally, I’ve found the VS quality has gone downhill the last few years, and the price has gone up. The last time I bought a non-nursing bra, I found some nice ones on sale at Kohls, but my tastes in lingerie are not what I’d call “exotic” for every day wear.
        And I also agree that for kids, cheap is fine until they really need a bra, and then a department store is acceptible.

      • chickadee

        Yes! VS stuff seems to made for sexytimes, not for long-term use since it falls apart so easily. Plus Target has a lot of brightly-colored news that my daughters love. And I have also found well-constructed lingerie at most department stores that is also sexy and/or fun. Including Kohl’s.

      • alice

        oh most definitely. i practically wear the same two Target bras all year round (to the constant chiding of my partner that “bras need to be washed more than that, honey.”)

        but if you want a nice pair of *real* stockings, or a garter belt, or corset…then I don’t know where else to go, but VS.

      • PackagedGore

        I’ve always just gone to sex shops for those things.(Local ones, Cirilla’s is a chain in multiple states with a website.) There’s a lot of stripper-y things (I think that’s where they go to get their stuff) but also plain stockings and plain garters.

      • CMJ

        Nordstrom Rack is FANTASTIC for underwear/bras/etc.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        TJ Maxx, Bluefly, ASOS, H&M! I just hate VS for too many reasons.

    • chickadee

      I am kind of horrified by the assumption in The Stir that the best place to get ‘fun’ lingerie for anyone is VS. Like you, I dislike their advertising approach and the marketing of hypwrsexuality. But then again, consider the source. I rarely read anything on The Stir that is well thought out or is written by people who value nuance or depth. This is a woman who let’s her 9-year-old set the terms for what her mother must buy for her, which indicates that the writer herself is easily seduced by advertisers and marketers. Because kids know best. I fel that parents should be instructing their children (because 9 is definitely still a child wgo does not need VS) in where they will be shopping, not the other way around.

      I don’t think it’s slut-shaming to point out that a certain degree of sexuality is appropriate for women and not children. I suspect that the author of that article would be loud in condemning the sexualization of little girls, so why rush her into shopping at a store for adults?

    • Eileen

      Like Alice, I’m not really sure where you’re talking about. I mean, for a 9-year-old kid, yeah, I think VS is inappropriate. And don’t get me started on 16-year-olds who think it’s cool to carry their school books around in a VS bag. Yes, this is a thing, and yes it looks even stupider to me now that I’m 24 instead of 16.

      But other than maybe the lingerie department at Macy’s, which is reasonably priced and has an okay, if not great, selection of bras, panties, and nighties, I can’t think of anywhere I’d go regularly to get nice-looking underwear. VS seems to have the market on “sexy but practical” in the moderately priced range. And they send me a lot of coupons, so yeah, I buy stuff there. I went there exactly twice before college, though (and when I was in college, it was literally the only place within workable distance where I could buy a bra that cost under $100)

      • Daisy

        Yup, until a few years ago, there was no place in my city to buy decent underwear EXCEPT La Senza (which is pretty much the equivalent of VS; I think they’re owned by the same company). Nobody under the age of 40 or 45 would be caught dead in a department store, and it’s only in the last 5 years or so that our mall has opened stores like Garage and American Eagle that have a small assortment of underwear. We also got a La Vie en Rose recently, but that always struck me as more adult than La Senza–although LS is more overtly sexualized, the bright pinks and oranges and blues seem more teen-oriented than the subdued hues of LVeR.

        LS did always make me uncomfortable (I made my mom buy my underwear until well into high school because I was too embarrassed to walk in there–don’t laugh!) but it was the only option, by default.

      • Eileen

        Youuuuuuu must be from Canada! (Haha, my extended family is from Montreal, which is where I was born, and le Garage was my favorite store as a 13-year-old) And yes, I remember when Limited Brands acquired La Senza, and – this is embarassing – I think I still have a couple pairs of 9-year-old La Senza panties. La Vie en Rose is pretty, but I think it’s more expensive? Plus it looks more adult. VS/LS are a good compromise for 20-somethings who have adult bodies but also youthful taste. I just want a pair of black-and-white polka dotted boyshorts. I wish they sold that kind of thing at a more feminist place, but I haven’t found it.

      • Nat

        Charlotte Russe has black and white polka dotted boyshorts and they are soooo comfy and cute. And they’re a quarter the price of VS. They’re bras are $5 on sale, $15 usually, and last forever. They’re panties run a little small, but are still soft and cute. Charlotte Russe is a little more older teenager-y(I’m 17 so I get to shop there and look like I belong), but there’s some adult lingerie, too.

    • Carm

      THIS

    • Blueathena623

      Well, this one should be easier for me. I plan on having a very strict “if its not clothes I’m willing to buy, you have to save up your allowance” and I will not spend money on things like that. If a 6 pack of Hanes from Walmart is good enough for me, it will be good enough for my kids unless that save up.

    • Amanda

      Slightly off topic, but very, very few VS models have breast implants. Most of them are a B cup & are just heavily photoshopped. I love VS, but the thing that bothers me most is how they photoshop each model’s breasts to look bigger, as if having smaller ones is not okay. I have yet to see an ad from them that doesn’t feature at least what appears to be a C or D cup.

    • CMJ

      Victoria’s Secret is the worst – bad quality and also, not a great range of sizes for people who have larger chests. It’s also not that cheap. The bras range from $40-65 (more if you need a bigger cup size). The last time I was in there (and it was a while ago) there were tweens in there and it made me feel kind of awkward. Natori bras are around the same price range as VS (maybe a bit more) and are like HEAVEN if you have a large chest.

      I also don’t think I was allowed to have anything other than white underwear until I was in high school…and even then I think it was like beige and black. wah wah.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Natori bras last forever too, same with Wacoal

      • CMJ

        Husband says – You spent HOW MUCH on those bras?

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        tell him I said to STFU about your underwear costs. I am sure he spends money on stuff for himself that isn’t even a MUST have!

      • CMJ

        He will only wear ONE brand of underwear that’s pretty expensive. He’s pickier than me…I think he was just shocked.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        let’s spam him with La Perla and Agent provocateur links! That will teach him !

      • CMJ

        We even have a Agent Provocateur store here! WIN.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        yay! now see, that junk is $$$$$$$!

      • Tom Maker

        Normal underwear vs slutty bras? You don’t see a difference? God I feel bad for your man.

    • chickadee

      Eve, I noticed you gave xojane an actual mention and that an xojane writer has a piece today that links back to xojane. Is this atonement for the perceived Jane Pratt-bashing of a few days ago?

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Noooo, I don’t hate everything they write. I have a few friends who still write for them. I just really hated that XoVain piece, still do. Grrrrr.

      • chickadee

        I read an article in maybe The Atlantic? I’d have to check–that gave me pause about the xo approach. Pratt referred to her writers as characters, making it sound like a reality show rather than a journalism effort.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Yeah, it’s not really for me, I am an old lady hahaha.

      • chickadee

        I think we are actually the same age. That would explain a lot.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I am 43, you are more than welcome to come sit in my old lady corner <3

      • chickadee

        Yay! So you, too, are old enough to have watched the John Hughes movies in the theaters….

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Oh hell yeah, and it’s fun sharing those with my own teen now. I made him watch (Not Hughes but) heathers too <3

      • Eileen

        DUDE CAN I JOIN YOU GUYS? xojane makes me want to be an old lady hardcore.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        OLD LADIES UNITE!

    • CW

      Why is it so difficult for people to make a distinction between things that are fine for ADULTS but age-inappropriate for CHILDREN and general disapproval of the thing? VS is a store for adult women, period. I wouldn’t take my ‘tween to a R-rated movie or buy her a M-rated video game, so why on Earth would I take her shopping at VS?

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I am not 100% sure, I think it’s because there was an article saying that VS was going to be marketing to kids even younger than the PINK line does?

      • CW

        And no corporation *EVER* markets age-inappropriate hyper-sexualized things to children (especially girls). VS may be trying to capitalize on the trend, but that doesn’t make it OK.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      THANK YOU.

      Victoria’s Secret, man.

      Plus, they have DARLING underwear at Target, Macy’s, JCPennies, and if you don’t feel quite right buying underwear that doesn’t cost more than a grocery store bill there’s still Sak’s Fifth, and Nordstroms, which are higher quality than VS anyways.

    • CK

      Honestly, my mother brought me to Victoria’s Secret for underwear in my early teens. Of course, I wasn’t picking out thongs, or thigh highs, just regular underwear. I liked the print, and they had some great, fun stuff to choose from. Sadly, the quality has gone down hill. I’m 32 now, and I’ve noticed a decline in the life of their products.

      All that aside I would hope that the mother has enough sense to not bring a 9 year old in. I think that is too young. I was old enough to see past all the crap that they market, and only wanted the product. I’ve always been that, though, and it’s up the parent to know if their child can do that, or if they will buy into the rail-thin model stereotype.

    • rebecca

      My mom would have laughed me put of the house if i told her i needed to go to VS at any point in my life when she was responsible for providing me with underwear.we got Ganges unless we bought it ourselves. Also, off topic but the Gilligan o malley line at target mimics the styles VS offers at a fraction of the price and they tested better for wear and quality thenVS. and they have tons of cute panties too.i stopped shopping at VS when i was about 25, but i was obsessed with it as a teenager.you know why? The VS brand automatically makes men think about sex, so if a boy saw me with a VS bag i was automatically sexy.teen logic is disturbing.

      • Rebecca

        Sorry, Swype makes a lot of incorrect word selections if you’re not paying attention.hanes, not Ganges

    • Gangle

      I don’t get why refusing to take your daughter shopping for undies in a lingerie shop for women would be considered slut shaming. Its just called parenting.
      I remember when I was 8-9 I was absolutely FASINATED by lingerie… my sister, who is 10 years older than me, had awesome lingerie, and I was always envious of her pretty bra-panty set. I was also envious that she had boobs. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have boobs. It was all so mysterious and grown-up. I couldn’t WAIT to be able to buy my own lingerie.. which meant when I was finally old enough to get a job and save for my own proper lingerie- as opposed to just bra n knickers – I was super excited. Why can’t some of these fun, exciting moments (like buying lingerie, or colouring your hair or make-up) be kept for when you are older. Half of what makes them so exciting and special is the mystery of it and that you spend so many years looking forward to them. I think if you get all of these things the moment you want them, you lose out on some of the fun and excitement.. and then what do you have to look forward to when you are actually a teen?

    • Elizabeth

      I wasn’t sure how felt about his article. At first I didn’t think I’d agree, but by I was coming to the end I was starting to agree with Ms. Vawter. I can fully understand and support someone not shopping at Victoria’s Secret for most of the reasons she listed. But I also think she might be making it too big of a deal; at least in her daughter’s world.

      I can understand Ms. Vawter’s reasons for not shopping at VS, but I also think that if she makes it a huge taboo in her daughter’s world, then she’ll be the one leading the way when she’s sixteen and hanging out at the mall with her friends. Bring on the pushup bras from VS, the skinny jeans from Abercrombie and Fitch, and the crazy shoes from Steve Madden.

      I want to be clear, I’m not trying to imply that Ms. Vawter isn’t a good mom or that she’s destined to lead her kid to do this. But I’m 22, the highschool years weren’t that long ago and the college years are still happening. And I can tell you, the kids that dressed the most crazy were (and are) the ones who’s parents had them dressed in khakis and a polo every day. Heck, one of my high school friends had almost a whole second wardrobe at her boyfriend’s parents’ house.

      I’m clearly not a parent, but I’ve seen how badly some mother/daughter relationships turn out because of this type of attitude. So far everything has been up to you as the mother, but if it stays that way into her teen years, she’ll just stop asking for your input — she already knows what you have to say. So when she’s fifteen and is “meeting a friend to see some innocent PG comedy”, she’ll really be meeting up with a friend, changing in clothing you don’t approve of (provided by another girl), meeting up with the boys they like, and then sneaking into the R-rate movie you don’t want her to see. (Plan to keep her locked up through highschool? She’ll explode when she gets to college. They’re always the first one to get drunk and in way over their head.)

      So while a sequin shirt and fringe boots might make you wince and shake your head at the ugly combination, I reckon it’s better to give a little now, than to deal with it later.

      • http://www.josetteplank.com/ Josette Plank

        Honestly, everything you warn of has no basis except in anecdote. I know enough parents who said, “No” appropriately to their kids and whose children maintained sanity throughout their teen years. The “give them what they want or they’ll do it anyway” is pretty base parenting. There’s a lot more that goes into a good parenting relationship than just handing over privileges on a kid’s threat that they’ll take those privileges anyway. You are basin your opinion on an assumption that you know enough about a mother/daughter relationship to know what makes it tick and what went wrong. Respectfully, you don’t.

      • Elizabeth

        Actually, I’ve always had a great relationship with my mom, and it wasn’t because she always gave in. Often we just talked about things other parents didn’t. And at the end of the talk, she would always say, “It’s your life Elizabeth. I want you to make good choices, but you’re ultimately the one that has to decide.” My mom was always there for me and ready to give me help if I needed it.

        My point wasn’t that parents should just give in to everything a kid asks for; they absolutely should not. Rather, it was about picking your battles. If the answer is always no, then eventually kids will stop asking and just start doing. As someone who was homeschooled, I was friends with some really sheltered kids whose parents controlled pretty much everything they did — it didn’t turn out well. (I also had some friends whose parents let them do anything, and they got similar results.) I don’t think either of these extremes are healthy. But I do think there are some parents (mostly mothers) who are too controlling later in life. And Ms. Vawter, with all due respect to her, strikes me as potentially being one of those mothers.

    • Pingback: Mother Launches Petition Against Victoria's Secret Bright Young Things()

    • TinLizzie

      I realize this is off topic, but VS’s use of “Bright Young Things” really bothers me. It’s actually a really old phrase from the 1910s and 1920s. It originally meant the next generation of men and women who were optimistic and witty and went out to parties and socialized and were much more liberated than the Edwardians and Victorians had been. They listened to jazz and danced without gloves on (shocking!) and stayed out late and the women even drove cars!

    • Heather

      I personally am a big fan of Victoria’s Secret. I love shopping there, and just being in the store and wearing their products gives me confidence and I feel sexy which is hard for me after having 2 kids. I also find that yes, their bras aren’t as cheap as some other places, but with vs bras I get years of use and washing them and they continue to fit and feel just as great. However I do understand how many women aren’t comfortable taking their younger age daughters to shop there. We were all raised different and have different parenting skills so it only makes sense one mom might take their 13 yr old to vs for a supply of pretty panties and the next is completely against the idea. I personally won’t have an issue to take my daughter to vs when shes 13. I’m well aware they sell lingerie and women’s bras and panties, but the Pink line is more for the younger generation to be able to find something for them there as well. They may have thongs or see thru panties but of course I wouldn’t be getting her that kind. I see nothing wrong with girls having some vs panties, bras and some PINK sweaters and yoga pants.. also I personally own lots of stuff from their pink line and love how soft and comfotable the clothes are for daily wear and they last me forever. But growing up my mom was never agaisnt any of that stuff. Me and my sister wore thongs when we were in 8th and 9th grade and my mom did nothing more then wonder how we could ever consider them comfortable. I’m 26 now and haven’t worn them for years though lol. But I just wanted to throw my opinion out there too. I don’t think anyone is right or wrong when it comes to this stuff it’s all our personal opinions and morals. When girls start to get to that age of wanting to own some cute panties from vs and see their friends going there I personally feel it’d be a good idea to take them shopping there and show them the kinds of panties appropriate for there age and maybe a good bra or two.

    • Tom Maker

      Awwww. if the girls are cute let them wear naughty little outfits. Come on….we all know those stores make millions for a reason! Cause women love looking like hoochies!