My daughter is in college now with, hopefully, one more year to graduation. I guess you’d call that young adulthood or “almost adulthood,” or not, depending on the financial or emotional crisis du jour. I’m proud of her accomplishment and her character. I feel as though her father and I have done a good job raising her, and believe me, it wasn’t easy. There is so much that affronts young girls today that it’s all a parent can do to stay ahead of the danger curve.
Bullying, self-image issues, eating disorders, and academic pressures, all piled on top of puberty, make raising a young girl difficult. And it’s so important to get it right! In the end, you strive for confidence, a sense of self-worth and ambition, positive self-image and good character. It takes time to reach these goals and all of it—the time—is precious.
So why does Victoria’s Secret want our daughters to skip a decade or so in development? Why are they marketing to young teenagers, really young teenagers, with their latest “Spring Break” ad campaign for the PINK clothing line? The Victoria Secret’s “clothing” includes lace-backed cheeksters with the word “Wild” on the back, a lace-trim thong with “Call me” on the front, and hipsters that read “Feeling Lucky.”
Do you want anyone “feeling lucky” with your 15-year-old?
The parent company that owns Victoria’s Secret is Limited Brands. At their conference in January, CFO Stuart Burgdoerfer confirmed the company’s plans: “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of what we do at Pink.”
So what! Little girls can want all they want; it doesn’t mean it’s smart or healthy to give it to them.
They want to be cool? Why not give them a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of vodka? In fact, to be responsible with this type of marketing, Victoria’s Secret should give them condoms, pepper spray and a year’s worth of therapy sessions with a qualified shrink.
Re-defining the most important period of female growth and development is dangerous and irresponsible for retailers and parents alike. Being a young teenager is when girls start to learn about their bodies and their sexuality. It is a slow process that allows them to mature into womanhood. But it is a necessary process that involves their brains and their hormones slowly acclimating to the changes taking place. To speed up that internal perception by introducing sexual nuance way before a girl is mature enough to handle it, or even understand it, is foolish at best and dangerous at worst.
Come on moms, don’t play into this marketing crap. Victoria’s Secret doesn’t care about your daughter’s emotional development; they only care about her purchasing power. They don’t care about her self-esteem or her body image or her sexual development. You wouldn’t take an infant and stand them on their little wobbly legs and expect them to walk. The crawling phase is important to getting the walking thing down right. So don’t allow your daughters to skip young teenage years and throw themselves into a sexual stage they are ill-equipped to handle. There’s so much for these girls to deal with at this age that demands strong parenting—you be the one to do it, not Victoria’s Secret.