First came Ambercrombie with their padded bras in size 8T, and now, here comes Victoria’s Secret, with an eye on creating sexy underthangs for the young teen market.
We’ll get to that. But first, let me digress as I tend to do:
When I was in 10th grade, I plastered buttons across my gray Le Sport Sac tote. Lots and lots of buttons. I had Canal Jeans buttons in every color, with their Vans-like checkerboard pattern; the true sign of indie NYC cred circa 1984. I had buttons naming bands I had never really listened to but sounded cool. I had an anarchy A (pathetic, I know). I had one that said “uniquely maladjusted but fun,” not entirely knowing what that meant. And then I had one more.
In black letters on white, it read, “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.”
I was 14.
I, in actuality, was not particularly close to “everywhere” with boys at that point. But I liked the idea that the preppy yacht club parents in my community might somehow see my button and think I was some sort of renegade, mind-of-my-own, rule-breaking, non-blonde who wasn’t the preppy yacht club type. Whatever that meant.
The thing is, I wore that slogan on my tote bag. Not on my underwear. Certainly not on lacy, sexy underwear meant to be seen by boys, who you desperately want to think of you as wild, uninhibited, fun, available.
But hey, I guess I could have. Easily.
In fact, Victoria’s Secret, feel free to stick my slogan in with your line of “PINK collection” panties–nah, no double entendre there–as part of the new Bright Young Things collection aimed specifically towards younger teens who “want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college,” according to the company’s CFO.
(The sexually uninhibited girl in college, Stuart. Let’s be honest here. )
I don’t think the slogan is trademarked, so you probably wouldn’t owe me anything for its usage. And from what I’ve seen, it would fit in just perfectly.
Now in case I’m not the very last person to learn about this (thanks for the tip, Craig!), I found a few images on the site. Makes things easier to imagine. So to speak.
Wow, the 14-year-old set today sure will be able to mess with the establishment with those panties! And how!
See, that’s where the bad but understandable choices I made then are different than the same bad but understandable choices being made by girls today.
(And yes, I’ve become that mom who’s shaking my cane at the youngsters, yelling THINGS WERE DIFFERENT IN MY DAY YOU WHIPPERSNAPPERS while clutching my lower back. Deal with it.)
My “good girls” button was of course ridiculous in that expected 14-year-old ridiculous way. It’s your prerogative in adolescence to experiment with identities and boundaries and perceptions of you, sexual and otherwise. It’s natural to want to feel wanted by boys, and liked more than that girl with the big boobs and the not-so-training bra. I totally get it. I remember it well. Hell, I was Class Flirt in my senior yearbook.
However–and this is a huge however–I didn’t have the unforgiving Internet looming over me, daring me to make a mistake so it could be documented and preserved and follow me around forever.
I didn’t have Instagram to publicly post selfies of myself in my new “Feeling Lucky?” panties for the world. I didn’t have the option to make a Vine video of myself dancing around bottomless after discovering access to an unlocked liquor cabinet with my girlfriends on a Friday night. I didn’t have a boyfriend who could whip out a smartphone and grab photos of me trying to post like a girl of questionable age in an American Apparel Ad.
I certainly didn’t have Snapchat.
So yeah, I made dubious choices at 14. Kids today will make dubious choices at 14. The difference is–and here’s what’s terrifying for parents of girls like me–those choices can now follow you around your whole life.
Film fades. Google cache is forever.
Victoria’s Secret, c’mon. This is not days of the week briefs. This is underwear meant to be seen by boys. Probably more boys than should see them. Probably boys you don’t even know, who have access to social media. Boys you may want to think of you as wild, uninhibited, available. Even if you’re not. Even if you’re still figuring out who you are.
But they don’t know that. Especially those boys you don’t know.
They just see some girl in a blurry photo, the one flashing her “call me” hipsters beneath her unbuttoned jeans.
When my girls get closer to their teens, and probably well before that, they’re going to know why some experimentation with identities is okay and some is not. And they’re going to know that there are marketers who will always try to capitalize on their inability to tell the difference.
I just never imagined that one day, a major, publicly held brand would be actively marketing “too hot” panties to girls young enough to fit their entire bodies into a single leg of my own underwear.
Bright Young Things?
Well, yes. They certainly are. Let’s not try to ruin that for them before they even get a chance to prove it out.