No doubt by now you've seen something about the backlash Victoria's Secret is experiencing after releasing a Spring campaign called "Bright Young Things," which appears to be aimed at high school-aged girls, based on the bright colors, sayings, and very young and under-developed looking models that are sporting them in ads.
I actually received the catalogue in the mail a few days ago, and after a few minutes of mindless browsing, threw it away because I thought "I'm getting too old/chubby/broke for this." Little did I know the rest of the nation thought that Victoria's Secret was getting too young.
Parents are outraged because they feel the campaign and its "clothing" are sexualizing their children at a young age, especially since Justin Bieber played at the televised Victoria's Secret fashion show.
"They're making my daughters want to wear thongs that say "Call Me!" on them! In bright pink! I can't believe it!"
I agree that the campaign pictures do feature girls who, in my 28-year-old opinion, look pretty young.
However, I must ask parents -- WHAT?!?
- These ads and fashion shows appear on TV. Those boxes have an off button. You can control what your kids watch.
- These ads appear in their catalogue that you can elect to not have delivered to your house.
- These ads appear in your local mall you can choose to not drop your kids off at unsupervised.
- The ads appear on the Internet that you can, as the parent and authority in your household, exercise your right to control the settings and viewing privileges of the young eyes and minds in your domain.
- The Internet can also be accessed through the iPads and iPhones and all kinds of expensive things you buy for your children thinking that they need them like they need air or food.
- These articles of "clothing" are to be bought with money. Seeing as your children can't (legally) work until the age of 16 in order to earn the money to purchase said items, you can only be worried they will purchase them if you supply the money for clothes and don't bother to check to see what was purchased.
I'm not sure when or why it happened, but in the last few years, it seems society told parents they should stop being authority figures and role models in their kids' lives, and start being their best friend who gave them money for things and didn't ask questions.
As an educator, I'm tired of seeing kids like this who are rude to their parents -- I can tell, because they're rude to me. Kids don't know what "please" or "thank you" mean, or how to work hard for something or solve any sort of problem, because they're so used to being handed the solution by their parents.
The point of life is not to bring children into this world to boss you around. It is to exist in a capacity that is exciting, fun, inspirational, and meaningful. It's to work hard for things and take pleasure in the earning of them. And I think that is an underlying issue in this whole debate that VS is missing here, and parents, unknowingly, are missing as well:
We need to stop giving our kids iPhones, laptops, thong underwear, 20 dollars on the weekend just for breathing, and letting them play three sports at once, because in doing so, we take away all the fun of growing older.
What is there to look forward to, if you already have an ipod, iPhone, ipad, PS3, your own room, lingerie, BC options, permission to party, and laptop by age 13? What did you do to earn those things? Nothing. You did nothing. So to get your next thrill (and what is that going to be?), what are you going to challenge yourself to do?
If we allow our children to miss family functions to be with friends, buy short shorts, walk in high heels, wear makeup, text their friends at school, stay up late, watch bad movies, have sex ("but they're on birth control!"), drink at home ("but it's okay, because I'm here with them supervising!") all at early ages... what is left?
Where is the fun in growing older if you're already doing "grown up" things at such a young age?
To say nothing of the fact that your children are not old enough to make those kinds of decisions in regards to sexuality, style, what is or isn't appropriate content, think about consequences, etc. Guess what? Cell phones/laptops/iPads don't come with a maturity chip. Your kids are sexting and you don't even know it. And the kicker? They may be dumb enough to send such a picture, but they're smart enough to erase it so you can't find it.
Parents -- I speak for your children, although they do not know it. The message is this: step it up. Value our childhood and our innocence. Send us outside to play before you hand us the remote control. Invite playdates before texting. Stagger our introduction into adolescence and then adulthood, so that we may truly experience the wonder and mystery of each phase. Allow us to make mistakes -- to learn from them, too.
Parents, you made these children. Now teach them, guide them, be good role models, use wisdom, instill respect in them, teach them manners. If you have done your job, when something like VS panties comes waving in the face of your child, they will know what to do.
Have the guts it takes to bring a life into this world and do it right. If you do, the world will thank you.
Follow Rachel Weight on Twitter: www.twitter.com/racheldangerw