Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Bright Young Things: A Big, Bad Idea

Posted: March 26, 2013 by Justin M. Strawn in Opinion
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I don’t think we need to start portraying 11, 12, and 13 year olds in a sexual manner.

Are you aware of the latest product line being introduced by Victoria’s Secret? It’s called Bright Young Things, and if I have read correctly, it is a line of swimsuit products aimed at the “tween” demographic. If you haven’t figured out from the title of this post, I don’t think this is a direction we need to go, but it isn’t simply because It’s Victoria’s Secret. I am a Christian, and that certainly shapes how I see things, but I am not a Victoria’s Secret basher. They sell a needed product, whether it is underwear for women or products that help couples be more intimate. There isn’t a thing wrong with either of those. You may not like the way they advertise, but that doesn’t mean there is anything inherently wrong with their product. So why do I say this is a bad idea? Let me give you a few reasons.

Uh, You Write About Exercise. Why Are You Writing About This?

While this blog is about exercise, I try to help people lead a healthy lifestyle. Leading a healthy lifestyle includes mind, body, and spirit. I believe this directly affects how young girls view their body and their self-esteem. I don’t believe this would do anything to support a healthy lifestyle.

The Continuing Sexualization of Girls

I also want to be clear, I don’t think Victoria’s Secret selling bathing suits to this demographic, or underwear if they eventually go in that direction, is wrong. Tweens need to have bathing suits and underwear just like every other segment of society. It’s the way that Victoria’s Secret has designed these products that I have an issue with.

The design goes along more with their Pink products. The Pink products are notorious for having words full of sexual innuendo emblazoned across the butt or crotch. It’s bad enough that we have sexualized teen girls as much as we have, do we really need to do this with girls who are 11, 12, and 13 years old? This is a time when children’s bodies are going through a number of changes, now we want them being portrayed as sexual beings? As a person who has spent the last four years of my life teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, I know how difficult this time in their lives can be on anyone this age, boy or girl. Adding sexuality to the mix isn’t going to help.

I know there are middle schoolers who are already acting out their sexuality. I don’t want you to think that I am putting my head in the sand and ignoring the reality. Just because it is happening doesn’t mean we have to encourage the behavior. Children are being asked to grow up too fast as a result of so many other aspects of society, having them hold off in the sexual arena seems like a no-brainer.

One other thing, in a world of child predators, do we want this age group of girls to be made more appealing to such a segment of society? That may be a thought that many of us don’t want to entertain, but we need to recognize the threat. When a girl gets her brand new Victoria’s Secret bikini in the 7th grade, you know it will end up on Facebook or Twitter the first time she wears it to the pool or beach. Then it is free reign for any predator who can gain access to it.

The Loss Of Adolescence

Another growing trend happening in this country that this move by Victoria’s Secret is indicative of is the lessening of the adolescent period that young people go through. I hinted at this earlier, but it’s true. Because of split homes and parents who struggle to make ends meet, many teens and Tweens are having to pick up a lot more adult responsibilities than they ever have. There are a countless number of my students who have to go home and have dinner fixed by the time their parents get home. They also are responsible for making sure their younger brothers and sisters get their homework done and the chores are completed.

What does any of that have to do with a line of swim wear? Simple. Kids are asked to grow up too quickly, encouraged to do so, and are way too often given the means to grow up way too quickly. There is little time to learn who they are and what they believe.

Destroying a Positive Body Image

The battle for a positive body image is monumental for young girls. In a society that constantly tells girls that their worth is in their physical appearance, we are giving them one more hurdle to try to overcome in attaining a positive body image. Victoria’s Secret is doing this because they know it will sell. When tween girls put this line of products on, they are going to have preconceived notions about how they are supposed to look in it. If what they see in the mirror is remotely different from what they thought it should be, the danger of unhealthy eating habits can start to creep in. That can run the gamut from eating disorders to poor exercise habits.

I know that is a slippery slope, but there is a reason that we have eating disorders. It’s not because people look in the mirror and like what they see. Couldn’t any bikini do that? Yes, but the chances of looking like a 12-year-old girl would like it to look with “Feeling Lucky” embroidered across her butt is going to be slim.

I know there are people who will disagree with me, and that’s okay. Like I said earlier, I have no problem with Victoria’s Secret. I have a problem with the sexualization of 12-year-old girls. A bathing suit or underwear doesn’t do that. Placing sexual innuendo on the material does. Victoria’s Secret is a private company that can choose to make money in whatever way they so desire. This is one time when I think they should think of a better way to make their money.

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