Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dear Victoria's Secret:

The above shirt is being sold on your website, as part of your PINK® collection. Had it not been for your Semi-Annual Sale catalog that arrived at my home recently, I would never have known it existed. As I flipped through the pages, somewhat bored and certainly unimpressed by most of your selection, I stopped dead in my tracks when I got to the page with this item on it.

It is a safe assumption that the products in your PINK® collection are aimed at college-aged young women (18 to 23 years old, let’s say). College costs money—in terms of tuition, board, academic supplies—and for many people, that cost is prohibitively high. Scholarships and loans don’t come close to making a dent, and it leaves many young people who want to attend college financially unable to do so.

What this means is that individuals who are enrolled in college—an overwhelming percentage of whom are women these days, outnumbering men, in fact—should count their blessings and not party more, because that would be a profound waste of the money that either they or their parents have invested in their education.

Therefore, to sell a product encouraging young women to “party more” and “study less” is downright irresponsible, and retreads the stereotype of women not needing to be “smart”—that once again, intellect and job readiness come second to being pretty and having fun. The clear message here is, “Why worry about your future, about becoming financially solvent and able to support yourself when you can just meet a boy at one of those parties, and he’ll take care of you?”

While Victoria’s Secret has never been a bastion of women’s rights or using imagery in its ads and commercials that don’t set unrealistic standards for women, it is both disappointing and appalling that you would stoop so low as to perpetuate this outdated, misogynistic mindset.

In short: Your secret is out, Victoria. And it ain’t pretty.