What is Drastic + Dramatic

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Victoria's New Secret

"Our main appeal is for women. We are not for men to look at but for women to feel good about themselves."

When a life-changing dilemma sprouts in a little girl's soul, she will think of little else until she works out a solution.

I was about twelve. Breasts were a shy, uncertain, recent addition to my body. My body had been so busy growing upward it neglected filling in curves until it seemed every other girl had a little something to fill the training bra. I was sidled up next to my mom on her bed. We were watching some family TV show that I wasn't paying attention to in the least. My mind reeled for squirming words in the rushing flow of thoughts obsessing about bras. It was time for me to wear a bra, I just knew it. It was strange; I'd never worn one before, so I'd never had to ask for one before. But when Mom buys all your clothes, and she's had enough breast to feed six kids, she's not only probably a good source, she's probably my only source for bra dealing. And trust me, Mom knows a good deal.

It seemed like hours that I sat there, my heart like a dryer loaded with soggy shoes, rounding up any available nerve and wrestling scattered words into a proper row. This was neither the time nor place to discuss lingerie, but like I said, once possessed by the problem, girls will obsess over a resolution or burst. As most men know, this never changes. 

When the words finally came out, they dribbled toward Mom's ear in a terrified whisper.

"Mom, I think I need a bra."

"What?" Her eyes stayed on the TV.

Oh horror! Don't make me repeat it! Then Dad might hear. Other siblings heaped on the bed might hear. . . . Oh humiliation.

"I think I need a bra." If snakes cry, that's what I sounded like.

"Oh honey, you don't need a bra. Maybe next year."

My heart shuddered down my spine and triggered a whole series of unpleasantries. A loud buzzing silence vibrated in my head. My face no doubt seared red, sending a steam thick with embarrassment toward my eyes. I blinked rapidly to keep the pricking fog away. 

Maybe she was right, but . . . but next year would be junior high, and I was a growing woman! I'd already started shaving my legs, scars o' plenty to prove it. I knew what mascara was and could apply it without gouging out my pupils. Certainly those soft, gradual curves on my chest finally hinted toward proof that I needed a real bra.

Well, eventually I did get a bra. I didn't enter the harsh, peer-pressured climate of junior high without proper protection. I share this memory to stress the . . . well, stress of being a young girl discovering what curves mean. I mean, everything starts bulging, right? Bottom back, top front, around the middle, lips and arms, hips and thighs—Barbie never prepared us for all the extra bulging!

I also remember certain panties I had around that age. Here's how much "sexy" was on my mind: It was a seven-pack of soft cotton undies. Each pair, in tiny, looping letters, had a day of the week written on the front. Each was a different color, too. Tuesday was green. Sunday, white. Saturday, yellow. At some point I got a set of animal print undies. That was pretty daring. I don't think Mom was still buying my underwear then.

I don't think Mom would have seen a need for me to have sexy underwear. Probably most moms have that sensibility. Certainly most dads must. (Like this one.) And so I would need to be saving up my allowance to go buy undies to keep up under the pressure of junior high trends. I knew the power of trends. I'd actually been the first to show up with shaved legs in elementary school. I remember feeling embarrassed in gym when a popular girl leaned over and whispered loudly, "You shave your legs?" But then everyone else started, had to keep up. In junior high I'm pretty sure I set the jellies trend. Remember those? So fun. That's a fashion resurgence I could get behind.

Anyway, what if, during those delicate days of transition from girly to womanly, I had been offered a secret temptation, a line of lacy undies with more than the days of the week scribbled on them, front and back? How would I have responded to the call to reach my potential as a "bright young thing"?

Well, that's the Spring question Victoria might be asking. But now, oh reader, I want you to picture in your mind a nasty old man photographer doing the asking instead of some beautiful, suit-dressed, professional (bulging) woman. He's got to sell these undies, so he needs bright young models, right? (Which parents do we need to beat with canes because they actually allowed their young daughters to model these things? Or does Vickie just use her youngest-looking, size-negative models to launch the line? And at what age does it honestly become okay for any girl to sell her body?) Back on track, old creepy dude:

"Hey young thing. I think you're bright, I know you're young, and you're just the 'thing' I need to sell my new line of underwear. Come into my store, see how you look, imagine how you'll feel wearing those lacy gems around school. Maybe a little pink peeking from your waistband?"

Call me crazy, but I wager 99.999% of Moms and Dads who are worth the title would NEVER allow their daughters to follow after such enticements. Are there any moms and dads working behind the scenes at Victoria's Secret? Or were they all gagged with panties and tied up with bra straps and locked in the stockroom? 

Do lace undies help a girl become bright in her studies? Is a thong strap rising up the butt crack the proper way to lift a young girl into womanhood? Is the new spring line of "bright young thing" targeted for too-young-year-old girls a good idea?  No. No no no. Not okay. And I really don't feel like I need to argue that any further. These underwear have text messages on them. 

"Feeling Lucky?" "Wild" "Call me"

These looping letters cry for attention, and not from other females. WE DO NOT NEED MORE TEENS' UNDIES SEEN.

This petition formed on change.org just needs a few more signatures. Go, click, sign, be wise. Preserve a truly bright future for young girls.

And now that you've done that, let me say a positive word about Victoria's Secret bras. I love them. They're the only ones I buy. I've tried other cheaper brands and styles, but truly there's something secretly wonderful about the design, fit, support, hold, shape, and style of VS bras. I have no urge to spend money on fancy panties until I marry, but I wear a bra daily, and I want to be comfortable. 

But this positivity doesn't come with loyalty. Seriously I don't need a bra to feel sexy, I don't need a VS bra at all, I just like them. If the "Bright Young Things" line is launched, I will not return to one of their stores. Already I avoid stores and catalogs because I have a profound aversion to VS advertising. I read this article, Victoria's Dirty Little Secret, and two large reactions were pulled from within me: first, a buried memory resurfaced with bitter flavor; second, I received a revelation for VS's new should-be advertising strategy.

First, the memory. Elicited by the line, "Sometimes we forget how easy it is to turn our heads, change the channel, flip that magazine around."

I'll be brief, because this doesn't need extensive reliving. 2008. My boyfriend and I are in a precarious stage of love—that place where you essentially make or break it: accept the problems every relationship has and work through them together, or decide your problems might be better suited worked through with someone else. . . . Anyway, we're at my house, watching TV, snuggly and happy for the moment. Then a sultry VS commercial comes on. I playfully cover my boyfriend's eyes, but he cranes his neck to avoid the shield. He's teasing, right, so I pull his face toward mine, toward the woman he loves and can gaze at in person, love in that very moment, not drool senselessly in the permanent distance between him and the woman on screen. But he resists yet again and suddenly my heart breaks. I release his face, stunned by the instant constriction of my chest where my heart no longer beats with confidence. I get up and walk away—something had to keep moving if my heart was out of order—and the tears follow. He follows too, but the realization of differences too vast to bridge had become very clear in that moment and something empty had just taken his place. 

Too unfair to blame VS for damaged relationships? My feeling is, "a plague upon any who objectify and exploit the human body, especially the female body, to sell their products, to gain revenue." I wish there was no smutty content from which we have to turn our heads. It damages. Everyone. 

Second, the solution. Inspired by this very odd Christmas moment.

Yeah, I don't know. Brothers are males, too. Just because you live several years under the same roof with them doesn't mean you understand them one grain of salt better than any other male.

Victoria, you make great bras. Bras cover breasts. We don't need to see the rest. The rest IS the secret. Beauty, the gift unwrapped by only the worthy, lies behind that bra—but even deeper than that: true beauty is within her heart. The models you employ may not care that their bodies are fondled by so many (mostly male) eyes. They probably think they feel sexy. Then they get a paycheck and their Photoshop-remodel twin polishes the photoshoot with a little more secrecy. The article "Dirty Little Secret" quotes a VS spokesperson in the '90s as saying, "Our main appeal is for women. We are not for men to look at but for women to feel good about themselves."

Vickie, honey, really. I never feel better about myself when I look at your commercials or your magazine ads or catalogs. I never once believe that as soon as I put on those matching undies and bra that I'll somehow magically LOOK like this:

Your customers DON'T look like this. This model doesn't even really look like this. I may not speak for all, but I doubt I don't, when I say, we, your "intended customers," don't want to see it. Whenever I walk by a VS store, I roll my eyes and look away, hoping my three rotating bras will last that much longer so I won't have to reenter the museum of billowing smut for replacements.

Vickie, because all I truly care about is the fact that the bra makes me comfortable (not feel like a supersexymodel, but just comfortable to be my sexy self that exists regardless of whether you do), invest some of those billions in your new supersexywoman campaign. Keep your models, but cover up all the parts we don't care to see in superwomen costumes; keep your Photoshop goons, because they have much better skills than I; and make this your new slogan:

Your secret's safe with us.

Because feeling safe, feeling my man's eyes crave only me from the inside out, THAT makes me feel sexy. If you really care about women feeling good about themselves, you'll do something about it.

You're welcome.

1 comment:

Melody said...

Amen, Emily! You are amazing. I'm reposting!

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