Victoria’s Secret’s Latest ‘Pink’ Campaign Is Under Fire For Sexualizing Teen Girls


Angry comments have been piling up on Victoria’s Secret’s Facebook page after an ad campaign for the brand’s “Pink” line—which targets girls as young as 15—went viral in the outrage-o-sphere.

As you can see, the line of colorful lingerie and sweatpants features a vaguely Lolita-ish looking girl in pink sneakers, sweatpants, and a little bandeau top with her hand on her sunglasses as if checking someone out, while simultaneously being checked out herself by the viewer (presumably someone who is not turned off by sweatpants). “BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS,” reads the caption. This is pretty tame as far as sexy ads go, but I do find it vaguely disconcerting (if not very surprising) that this ad campaign is geared towards girls under the age of 18.

“When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” said VS Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said at a recent 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.”

While a teen girl’s desire to grow up too fast has long been a secret weapon of advertisers everywhere, some people are not happy about that fact, and they are especially not happy about this campaign. Here’s a representative wall post from an ex-customer:

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There’s also a petition up on, which reads:

While all teenage girls purchase items like bras, underwear, and swimsuits, most retailers target this demographic by advertising wholesome looking teens focused on fun and comfort. However, Victoria’s Secret recently launched a new line of products targeting teen girls which relies on sex appeal. Their spring break line features the slogan, ‘Bright Young Things,’ and is aimed at 15- to 22-year-olds, according to the Victoria’s Secret website. This slogan is not only inappropriate because it refers to young women and teens as ‘things,’ but advertisements for these new products feature younger looking models who are scantily clad in provocative poses.

This new line of clothing and advertising is sending the wrong message to American youth. Teenage girls are already bombarded by hyper-sexualized images of women on the media, which suggest that the most important attribute of women are their beauty and sexuality, rather than their intelligence, personalities, or ideas. Now, Victoria’s Secret’s new line of swimsuits and lingerie is sending the message that young teens are sexual objects. Their slogan reinforces this notion by referring to the teens as ‘things,’ rather than girls or women.

By showing teens in provocative poses in sexy undergarments, Victoria’s Secret is condoning teen sexuality, which many parents argue is inappropriate. Please ask Victoria’s Secret to stop targeting teens in its new product line.

Rather than attempt to defend the practice of marketing sexiness to teen girls, Victoria’s Secret has insisted that the campaign is not, in fact, geared towards teen girls, but college aged women:

In response to questions we recently received, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women. Despite recent rumors, we have no plans to introduce a collection for younger women. “Bright Young Things” was a slogan used in conjunction with the college spring break tradition.

Do you buy it? It seems like VS got caught with its hand in the cookie jar here, and is now being rather disingenuous in its attempts at damage control. Then again, it’s hardly the worst example of sexualized teen imagery that I’ve seen since I woke up today. With the average model entering the industry and modeling adult women’s clothing at approximately 14, this is an industry-wide phenomenon. I say this not to excuse the practice, only to point out that this problem goes way beyond a single, petitionable campaign. What do you think?

(Via Buzzfeed)

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    • jess

      I honestly see nothing wrong here. If you’re going to take issue with sexy ads being aimed – and using – young girls, why not take aim at the American Apparel ones? Those are ridiculous. This seems to be about looking comfy and attractive rather than sexy whereas the AA ads are full on exploitative.

    • Eileen

      I don’t mind the marketing so much, but the name “Bright Young Things” makes me absolutely cringe.

      • CG

        Why? I believe its a Fitzgerald reference…

      • Eileen

        …because any time the phrase “young thing” is used to refer to a teenage girl it makes me cringe. Since a girl isn’t a thing and all.

    • Nat

      Ask men did a really great piece on this and it seems one of the main problems are the slogans printed on the undies and such. Things like “Call me” and “Wild Thing” (or something) on the top rear of thongs.

    • Amanda

      I don’t see a problem here… For once, the models are all 18 & older, legally adults. Two, the line contains tshirts, sweatpants, bras, undies and swimsuits. Sweatpants and swimsuits are not sexual; please, God, don’t let us turn into a nation where we can’t even wear swimsuits without being automatically sexualized. Bras & panties – VS is a lingerie store, that is what they sell. I’ve personally been shopping their PINK line since I was 15, I liked the bright, cute bras & undies, and I still do at 20 years old. I have never and will never openly walk around in public showing my undergarments. Underwear is for under your clothes, swimsuits are for swimming/beach time. What’s so wrong with that?

      • Amanda

        For one*

    • Tusconian

      I really don’t think the name of the line is a good idea, and the reaction would be very different if the line was called “Bright and Young” or “Colorful” or something. The ambiguous “things” comes off as kind of sleazy. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with the line itself. It’s not horrifically or prematurely sexual for a 15 to 18 year old girl to wear baggy sweatpants over a 2-piece swimsuit, and I seriously question anyone who’s that strongly against a teenager wearing a 2-piece swimsuit or buying underwear from Victoria’s Secret when they sell the same stuff at Target or the department store. Not sure why this line is necessary, because teenagers wear Pink already, and any teenager wearing Pink or this new line could very easily walk into a Victoria’s Secret and buy lingerie if they’re that intent on buying something age inappropriate. Also, didn’t Pink recently switch a lot of their underwear with questionable slogans with anti-rape culture slogans? Anyway, I think our society has this obsession with treating teenage girls like they’re simultaneously grown women and babies (and, as far as corporations, “young things”). We never seem to give teenagers the respect they deserve or the boundaries they need. Teenagers, for the most part, can be trusted to pick out clothes and put them on their bodies. Parents should be the ones to say “no” if they’re not okay with a particular style or garment. Because Victoria’s Secret isn’t a parent, it’s a company. If they heard that some preschoolers were wearing Pink sweatpants, they’d start making toddler-sized bras and yoga pants. It’s up to the parents to make judgements with their wallets when a company aims a clothing line at a demographic they think is too young. And by the time a teen has enough of their own, hard earned money to buy a closet full of Victoria’s Secret items, they have to accept that their daughter is no longer a little girl they can shove into a frilly white dress and mary janes on Sundays.

      What bothers me even more is that Victoria’s Secret and especially Pink, and probably “Bright Young Things” (ew) is presented as more of a lifestyle than someplace to buy underpants and t-shirts. Especially since Victoria’s Secret is of pretty low quality for the price, and artificially creates body image issues not with it’s models or mannequins, but by poor bra sizing and an incredibly narrow range of sizes. Heaven forbid you’re a teenager who wears anything but a 32 to 36 A through C cup, or a size above 10, because then you’re shunned from the Pink Cult.

      • jamiepeck

        The anti rape culture panties were a satirical action on the part of an independent organization and definitely were not authorized by VS!

      • Tusconian

        Either way, the idea that Victoria’s Secret underwear has some specific, unique hand in making young girls “promiscuous” or “promoting rape culture” through overpriced thongs and ill-fitting bras is a lazy technique latched onto by adults who can’t parent their own children and can’t stand to face the fact that the screwed up culture that they actively participate in can’t be magically fixed by blaming some individual or company. The name of this particular branch of VS is sleazy and gross, VS is overpriced crap (instead of worrying about the slogans on their panties, they should worry about making stuff worth the price), and people who are obsessed with the brand are WAY too obsessed with the brand, and the company capitalizes on it by making is kind of a cult, that is not a very inclusive one. But Victoria’s Secret as a brand does not do anything to encourage rape culture, objectification, or sexualization of teens that every other mainstream store aimed at young women with a teen satellite demographic isn’t also doing. People are going way too far by claiming that teenagers wearing bras and bikinis is some new sexualization of “children” that only Victoria’s Secret does. Fact is, most teenagers have adult or nearly adult bodies, and need clothes, swimwear, and foundation garments that reflect those maturing and growing bodies, not the preadolescent bodies that society wants them to have. I suppose no teenager NEEDS a yellow bandeu bikini or a 45 dollar polka-dot bra, but no grown woman does either, and trying to keep teenage girls stunted at the level of young children is just as harmful as sexualizing them too quickly. Especially since, as I keep saying, no one seems to have an issue when stores like Target lay out colorful thongs and cute patterned bras that are clearly aimed at teenage girls and young women, when the only difference is literally the price.

    • Sariah

      I’m pretty sure then man issue was with their underpants saying things like “Lucky You” and “Call Me”

    • anya

      “By showing teens in provocative poses in sexy undergarments, Victoria’s Secret is condoning teen sexuality, which many parents argue is inappropriate”

      hate to break it to these people, but a lot 15-18 year old girls do have sex

      • Tusconian

        Also, wearing bras, underwear, swimsuits, and heaven forbid, sweatpants, and showing their products on models is not “condoning” teenage sexuality anyway. These lines don’t have the sexy corsets and teddies that the regular VS line has. I should sincerely HOPE that these kids are wearing bras and underwear, and swimsuits if they happen to be swimming, regardless of where they purchased it. I think people appalled that VS aims it’s products at anyone who isn’t middle aged and married is just a symptom of people taking the idea of something too far. You can get the exact same bras, underwear, and bikinis in Target, Sears, American Eagle, Forever 21, Nordstrom, and basically any shop that sells clothing to women. If someone has an issue with teenagers buying Pink (which tends to be colorful and cute, not sexy and sultry), but not with them buying the exact same things from any other store, they aren’t actually concerned that their kid is “too sexualized,” they’ve internalized the idea that shopping at THAT store makes girls sluts, or some garbage.

    • Lelde

      visit and create your spring look! Great selection of designer’s clothes and accessories!

    • CalmDownGuys

      OH geez. It’s a lingerie store. Of course they sell bras and underwear. They also sell sweats and tees and flip flops and swimsuits. Not corsets, not teddies, not sex toys. I’m 17, I shop there when I can afford to and they have something super cute. I personally don’t buy underwear with words on it, but considering it goes UNDER what I WEAR, no one would see it unless I wanted them to. PINK is one the VS’s most profitable line; they won’t discontinue it because of some busybodies. Don’t let your kid shop there if if offends you. Don’t shop there yourself. Actually be a parent and teach your kid your values yourself; stop trying to ban things because it makes you all huffy.

    • NJ cutie

      Wow. Shouldnt our concerns be elsewhere? Rock on “pink”