Pardon me while I step up onto my soap box here.
This is a post about parenting, sexuality, and Victoria’s Secret.
This past weekend I went underwear shopping at VS, because the underwear I wear on a daily basis was on sale, 7 pairs for 26 dollars. Considering they retail for 8.50 a pair this was a pretty good deal, too good a deal to pass up even though it meant torturing my boyfriend by dragging him into a lingerie store.
I made quick work of selecting my panties, sticking to mostly neutral and solid colors because I’m a grown woman in a graduate program with her own Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I spotted one pair of neon pink undies and assuming they were just solid neon, I grabbed them. Mostly to have some variety and the choices in the small drawer had mostly been exhausted. As the cashier rang me up I happened to see a flash of the neon panties and noticed they had writing on the butt.
“Oh man I didn’t know those had writing on them” I said to Maverick
“What’s it say?” He asked.
“I have no idea, I guess we’ll find out.” I said.
The cashier had overheard and unfolded the panties to show me:
I bought the panties anyway, even though I really had no desire to parade around with the word “angel” on my derrière surrounded by glitter hearts. I said as much and the cashier made a joke, that she was “an angel when I’m sleeping.”
I told her that was funny and she should pitch it to the company.
“If there’s a part of your body you most want to put humor on its definitely your butt.” I told her. Simultaneously making Maverick laugh and probably embarrassing him.
Sorry I’m not sorry.
Anyway, today on the internet there is a firestorm brewing over the fact that VS has launched a new line of underwear marketed toward teenagers called “Bright Young Things.” The “bright” is a play on words, because I think its meant to bring to mind super young, fresh, dewy teenagers but the underwear themselves are mostly neon in color. Neon is like super in right now 0MG. The part about this that is making parents all over the internet lose their shit, is the fact that they’re emblazoned with phrases such as “too hot” “wild” “I dare you” and “call me.”
The fact that these underwear are clearly designed to be seen by boys (or hey, girls!) is a huge problem for parents across the board, and they’re calling for petitions and boycotts and all of that nonsense.
And, I gotta say, I think there’s a way bigger issue at stake here.
Obviously if I were a mom, I would not go out and buy my middle school aged daughter underwear that says “call me” on the crotch. Mostly because I think that’s super tacky and hopefully a daughter I’ve raised will have better taste. I also think the “I Dare You” slogan is especially tasteless when coupled with all the rape conversation happening right now. Though maybe we should use VS’s lack of taste or class as a teaching tool?
But all of that aside, I think we need to focus on the fact that sexy panties are not some sort of magic device. A teenage girl wearing a suggestive slogan on her crotch doesn’t magically make her legs open for sexual intercourse like some sort of really effed up Jack in the Box.
or should I say Jill 😉
In middle school I started going to the mall with my friends and secretly buying thongs. We bought them at a store called Tello’s because they were hideously cheap and we didn’t have very much money. The thongs were thrown together haphazardly in bins and we rifled through them with great delight. The thong in my collection I was most enamored with was actually more of a g-string. It had a little rabbit made out of fabric on the back with a literal cotton-ball tail glued to it. I originally bought it in blue, I liked it so much I purchased it again. I also had a few pairs with my zodiac sign across the crotch made entirely out of rhinestones. My mother would routinely find these undergarments in the wash if I wasn’t careful, and she would confiscate them. Presumably because they were hideous and tacky and, oh yeah my mom was probably more afraid I’d have sex than anything else in the world. I guess having a daughter built like a “brick shithouse” as my Aunt once so elegantly described me, will do that to a mother. Just one more title for my future memoir: A Life With Large Breasts, the Sarah Danielle Story.
Despite my sexy underwear choices in middle school I did not have sex.
I did not have sex and frankly I don’t think anybody other myself and my horrified mother really saw those tacky thongs.
I didn’t have sex for a lot of reasons:
1. Not that many boys were interested in me.
2. I did not want to get pregnant.
3. I did not want to get an STD.
4. My mother would kill me and/or keel over dying a premature death of horror.
5. I did have some semblance of respect for myself.
The girls I knew who had the most sex (and yeah, I’ll go ahead and horrify you, I knew girls that had sex in middle school) dressed provocatively all over their bodies not just their underwear, and also did drugs and drank alcohol and made all manner of bad choices. I’m going to go ahead and point to this behavior as resulting from a lack of parental control and supervision, not lacy underwear.
It isn’t just the clothes. It isn’t just the music on the radio. It isn’t just the internet.
It’s all of it.
I won’t argue with anyone who says that young girls are bombarded by sexual material on a daily basis: they are. And no, VS is certainly not helping the situation but instead of crying over tacky panties I think we should be lobbying for better sex education. And we should be talking more openly about sex with our children. I’m not suggesting you watch porn with your 14 year old, although if I’m being honest I think that might beneficial in a way.
If I had a daughter I would teach her a lot of the things my mother taught me about feminism. As much as I complained when she wouldn’t allow me to watch the Spice Girls because “WALKING THROUGH THE WOODS IN YOUR WONDER BRA IS NOT GIRL POWER!” she was completely right. And while I’m fairly certain watching the Spice Girls movie would not have made me lose my virginity any faster, I know that the sentiment stuck with me. Whether I wanted to or not I grew up a feminist, and even if I had lapses in judgement I never once let a boy order me around.
I recall a boy once trying to pressure me to do something sexually because it was “his last chance.”
I was thankfully smart enough to ask, “Why? Is your penis falling off tomorrow?” Underneath it all I valued myself, I wasn’t going to be pressured or rushed to do something for a guy.
I’d add on to that feminist foundation a hell of a lot more information about sex than my mother gave me.
I’d tell my daughter how awesome masturbation is (seriously!) I’d tell my daughter how sex is really and truly 3000% times better with a person you seriously love and trust. I’d tell her how bad it feels to drive to CVS in the middle of the night in a panic because the condom broke. I’d tell her how STD screenings are super no-fun. I’d tell her to wait. I’d tell her to be so so smart if she couldn’t wait. I’d tell her she was smart and beautiful (um, she’s my daughter,duh) and that if she treated herself like she was priceless other people would follow suit.
Because really that’s all you can do.
Boycott VS all you want, those tacky panties likely aren’t going anywhere. As far as I know, Tello’s still exists.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
Neon Panties come and go, Self-Respect is forever.
I’m basically a marketing genius. Someone put THAT on panties. “Self-Respect is Forever” right across the butt, glitter hearts and all!!