In my opinion, the photograph says to both of my grandchildren, “girls should look and act like this” – messages that I think are wrong.
After I returned home, uneasy about what I had seen, I remembered others who had raised a similar objection a few years ago about a display of a Victoria’s Secret poster. Like the one I saw, it also was placed in the outer window of the store, facing the traffic area where everyone walks, not just adults.
So, when I went back to work on Monday, I found the article I had once read in The Anniston Star’s archives. It was written by Charlotte Tubbs on Jan. 28, 2004.
Here is its summary:
About 20 girls, ages 12 and 13 years old, and their mothers, all from Pell City, appeared before an Oxford City Council meeting complaining about a risqué poster in the windows of Victoria’s Secret. They presented a petition of 140 names and asked the council if anything could be done to make the store remove the poster. A subsequent article by another writer did not state whether or not the poster was removed.
Later Monday afternoon, I called the manager of Victoria’s Secret. Miranda is her first name, and she didn’t want her last name used, for reasons I can only guess. She remembered the 2004 incident and said she worked at the store back then, She added that nothing had been done to remove the offending poster. Further, she said she had no control over what was posted in the outer windows. She referred me to the corporate office, which I called.
I dialed 614-577-7111 (call them yourself, if you wish), and I expressed my concern to the operator. Then, I called the media relations department and told them I planned to write an editorial for The Oxford Sun about the matter. A spokeswoman asked me to email my concerns to them. She said a reply would be forthcoming. Also, she said such complaints are forwarded to the advertising department, and they take such concerns into consideration when planning future ad campaigns.
On Tuesday, there was a reply from a spokesperson for the company that Victoria’s Secret uses for advertising promotions, Limitedbrands: “Thank you for your feedback regarding the Victoria’s Secret window advertising. We appreciate you taking the time to share your feelings with us. It is never our intention to offend anyone by the nature or content of our marketing. We understand and respect the opinions of others and we are sorry that we disappointed you in this instance. We appreciate your feedback and will share your concerns with our marketing team. Cheers, Nina, External Communications, Limitedbrands”
Of course, Victoria’s Secret is not the only company criticized for erotic ads aimed at youth on the Internet or locally. During my research, I found criticism for various stores and businesses that either failed to place blinders on magazine covers that are inappropriate for youths, sold items to youths with vulgar messages or failed in other ways to protect young minds. Concerned citizens speak out all the time, and sometimes companies self-discipline, which I think is admirable.
For many companies, though, it’s profit over family values, when they could have both. After all, parents and grandparents feel more comfortable shopping in places that are sensitive to what their offspring see, and the adults feel more comfortable allowing their children to shop in those stores.
It all comes down to this: sexually charged ads should be displayed in adult-only venues. My small voice, though, will not change a thing. It will take hundreds of you expressing your concerns, and I believe Oxford residents are morally conscious enough to do so. When we speak out with both our words and our pocketbooks, then the corporations will likely respond, that is, until we grow quiet again. This constant pushing of the envelope, or, as with Victoria’s Secret representatives, a pushing of the posters, makes one wonder about corporate motives.
Email to Limitedbrands, the advertising company for Victoria’s Secret at email@example.com, but don’t stop there. Anytime any company offends or fails to act responsibly regarding their advertising toward youths, speak up. Innocense is a right our children can only enjoy once.
Sherry Kughn is news editor of The Oxford Sun. She can be reached at 256-235-3533.