This post is in response to the news of Victoria’s Secret launching a new line aimed at girls, and in support of A Letter to Victoria’s Secret from A Father.
I’m not sure the father in the letter gets his message across as clearly as he would have hoped, but obviously the point is that selling clearly sexual undergarments to young girls is not okay. “Feeling lucky?” printed on a lacy thong for a 6th grader? That’s kind of disgusting. It’s one thing to be young and start exploring your sexuality etc but to start wearing intimates with explicitly sexual connotations is a little too far. I’m 24 and I don’t even wear that shit! But, that’s my choice.
And again, it’s not that I’m against young people exploring their sexuality. The problem is, when you heap all this expectation on young girls by explicitly sexualizing them, I would imagine sexuality becomes laden with stress and anxiety to some degree. I say “imagine”, because I feel pretty blessed to have somehow dodged or tuned out any explicit sexualization when I was young (and I don’t think it was really an issue when I was growing up in the 90s) and so when I did start exploring my sexuality (at a pretty young age, mind you), my intimate encounters, for the most part, did not involve any anxiety or stress or pressure. And once I got slightly older and finally was the target of shit like this, I found myself vehemently rejecting it because I already felt quite comfortable with my sexuality and didn’t feel the need to prove or affirm anything. Isn’t that what people want for their daughters? A sense of comfort, confidence and self-identity about their sexuality that is independent from anything they’ve been *told* or *sold*? Something authentic and authentically beautiful?
Most importantly, printed sexy panties do absolutely nothing to tell young people about their bodies or others’ bodies or being intimate with another person. Sexy panties are not what sex is about. The message they send is confusing. Young girls need real education about human sexuality, about their bodies, about the bodies of their partners, and a chance to gain pressure-free hands-on experience – not lacy thongs saying “tweet this”.
I strongly feel that the tone and pace of our sexuality shouldn’t be set by companies out to make money off of it. Once you’re older and this shit is being aimed at you, you’ve likely already set your own tone for your sexuality and it’s something you might be better equipped to “handle” or integrate into your own life, however you feel appropriate. That’s why this stuff is “okay” for adults: they have experience, they have some idea, hopefully, of what they want and who they are, and so they will either accept or reject (like I do) what companies like Victoria’s Secret are selling. But girls this young aren’t equipped with those tools or that experience yet, and honestly they shouldn’t even be dealing with it yet.
Get out there and be sexual, sure. Have fun, explore and experiment and alla that. And once you’ve got some experience under your belt, maybe play it up with some embellishments, whether your taste is lacy undies or a leather bra. But until then, you’re just figuring out what the hell is even going on and what you’re doing! At that point, what does wearing underwear that say “wild” on your ass have to do with anything? Nothing! It has no place.
To even further highlight my point: even young children as young as 6 and 7 are sexual to a degree. Does that mean we’re going to target it somehow to make a profit? NO WAY! The reasons for this are obvious, and I feel like targeting girls at this age is getting dangerously close to those lines.
One more thing, veering slightly away from this main topic:
I think a lot of this also comes from this pervasive notion that sex is this dirty or naughty thing, and children are innocent and we shouldn’t dirty them with sexuality. But sex and sexuality are natural, it’s not dirty, and most children are going to naturally explore their sexuality either alone or with others from even the earliest of ages. It’s not something we talk about often as a society, but childhood sexuality exists and whether or not we admit it, most of us know it exists because we explored for ourselves when we were little.
I don’t think getting older and becoming an adolescent and further exploring sexuality is about anything dirty, but I think the general attitude our society has about makes it that way. Sex doesn’t have to be this serious, pressure-laiden thing – if anything it’s an extension of the playfulness and curiosity and sense of adventure we had as a child.