victorias-secret-pink

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 ForceChange.com, 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)