The Common Good

After 10,000 Emails, Victoria’s Secret Continues Business as Usual

One might not expect a blog post from a minister and young father in Houston, Texas to spark widespread outcry over Victoria’s Secret’s spring break-themed ad campaign. But Rev. Evan Dolive's passionate defense of his young daughter’s sense of self-worth went viral on social network sites, landed him on CNN, and wound up being used in high school classrooms in the U.S. and Canada, all in a matter of days. The point: the Victoria’s Secret “Bright Young Things” campaign — depicting young women on Spring Break to sell underwear with explicitly suggestive messages, with the accompanying verbalized sentiment that young teens dream of being like college girls (i.e., buying from the PINK line) — was objectifying, offensive, and obnoxious.

What do teen girls want? Image by Sandi Villarreal / Sojourners

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Sojourners joined the stand to reject this narrow characterization of young women. Far from denying that women are sexual beings, Sojourners emphasized common motivationsdreams, and insecurities among young teens, and the importance of fostering these in a way that empowers, not exploits.

Through Sojourners’ action alert, respondants sent nearly 10,000 letters to Limited Brands' communications team and board of directors. Their letters denounce the implication that girls are “things,” and criticize Victoria’s Secret for extending that dangerous and damaging mindset to younger and younger women.

A Victoria’s Secret spokesperson, responding to Sojourners' request for comment, said: 

“PINK is a brand for college-aged women. Despite 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.”

This statement about “Bright Young Things” — what Sojourners has always made clear was a campaign, not a line — does not address Sojourners’ central concerns over reinforcing confusion about the value of young women, to young women. Over the action alert’s charges that oversexed objectification contributes to a culture of abuse, rape, and distorted worth, Victoria’s Secret gave no comment.

Victoria's Secret has since changed campaigns for the summer season, having not addressed the tens of thousands of expressed concerns over their spring campaign. See and sign the letter here.

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor for Sojourners.

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