Pretty Young Things: Victoria's Secret Ads Targeting Tweens Spark Backlash

Remember those '90s Victoria Secret television ads that you would get a glimpse of right between the ending of Step By Step and the beginning of your parents’ newscast? They always featured lots of dark burgundy silk, sensual saxophone music, fluffy pillows and fancy women doing fancy things. I knew that I wanted to be like these women, but I knew no one expected me to be like them just yet.

A quick look at Victoria Secret’s recent marketing strategies shows that times have changed. The company's advertisements and products are now geared at an audience that is younger than ever, and parents are not happy about it.

Business Insider calls Victoria's Secret youthful new line a clear indication of its "intense focus on the tween market." The line is titled "Pretty Young Things" and features "colorful lingerie, sweatpants, t-shirts, and backpacks." It includes a bright thong with the words "Call Me" emblazoned on it and "lace black cheeksters" that read "Wild" when they are seen from the back. To top it all off, this year’s annual fashion featured lingerie models sporting roller-skates and pigtails while carrying over-sized neon lollipops. If that's not an attempt to lure young girls, I'm not sure what is.  

I know what you're thinking. Infantilization has often been used to sell products to adult women. But maybe the fact that they got Justin Bieber, otherwise known as tween-team commander in chief, to perform during the show will convince you that something else is going on here.

Image source: Flickr

Even the company itself has hinted at the idea that marketing strategists are deliberately targeting younger girls. At a conference in Miami a few weeks ago, Stuart Burgdoerfe, the Chief Financial Officer of the Victoria Secret Ohio branch said, "When somebody’s 15- or 16-years-old, what do they want to be? They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do..."

Despite all of this, the company still refuses to admit that they are deliberately gearing their advertising to teenagers, but parents aren’t falling for it.

A father’s open letter to Victoria Secret has already gone viral. In it, Evan Dolive says:

"I implore you to reconsider your decision to start this line. By doing so you will put young girl’s self-esteem, self-worth and pride above profits"

Fellow parent Diana Cherry has launched a petition on Change.org asking for the “Pretty Little Things” line to be removed from the immediately.

The mother of two says:

"I don’t want a brand like Victoria’s Secret telling my daughters what sexy should be and my son that girls have to look or dress a certain way. Sexualization of girls by marketers has been found to contribute to depression, eating disorders, and early sexual activity — and this new ad campaign is a glaring example of a culture forcing girls to grow up too fast."

Do you think this will convince Victoria Secret to stop marketing to children? Let me know what you think on Twitter: @feministabulous