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Should Victoria's Secret be targeting tweens?

Sherri Kuhn blogs at Old Tweener, where she writes about raising teenagers, the perils of a clean home, wistfulness over babies, and anything else that makes her laugh (or cry) in the years between changing diapers and wearing them. With...

Keep your secrets, Victoria

Remember when date night might have meant a stop at Victoria’s Secret for something sexy? That seems to be changing, when half the shoppers in your local store are under the age of 18. Tweens are after everything from bras and panties to loungewear — and the company seems to be marketing directly to them.
Tween shopping

How do you feel about your tween going crazy for Pink?

Everywhere you look, retail clothing stores are chasing the hottest segment of the population with money to burn — tweens. From Hollister and American Eagle to Victoria’s Secret, tweens are leaving the sequin-adorned clothing from Justice behind and going for an older, sexy vibe. But how sexy is too sexy when it comes to your tween?

Emulating older girls

It’s nothing new — younger girls have always wanted to copy the styles they see on their teenaged siblings, neighbors or cousins.

Victoria’s Secret’s Pink line features bras, panties and loungewear specifically marketed toward teens, cleverly working the word “pink” onto everything from hoodies to yoga pants. It’s all smart marketing — grow your next customer base from the younger crowd, so when they are young adult women they will already be Victoria’s Secret customers.

Although the Pink line is technically targeted toward college girls, there is obviously the intent that younger girls will be big fans as well. “When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” Victoria’s Secret chief financial officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said at a conference. “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 at Pink.”

What to know about young girls and healthy body image? >>

New spring campaign making waves

The new spring break-themed Pink collection, called Bright Young Things, has caused an uproar among parents of tween girls, who feel the lingerie retailer is targeting their younger girls. But according to a spokesperson for Victoria’s Secret, they have no intention of creating a line for younger girls and Bright Young Things is simply their slogan that ties new items in the stores and catalogs in with the tradition of a college spring break. They may have even decided to pull the advertising slogan, as a search for “bright young things” on their site today yielded no results.

What do parents think?

We asked a few parents of tweens and younger teens how they feel about the sexy panties and bras and their popularity with the younger crowd.

“I absolutely would not allow my daughter to buy her panties there,” said Anna, mother of a 13-year-old girl. “Sure, we all love pretty things to wear. But I think this sends a message to young girls that they need to be sexy to have fun.” Several moms agreed about the panties and bras, but had a harder time saying no to the loungewear, yoga pants and tanks. “I don’t see anything wrong with the Pink line for my older daughter,” said Julie, mother of three girls. “But only the sweats and hoodies.”

Age-appropriate clothing trends for teens >>

Images are unhealthy

Sending young girls the message that they need to be sexy to have fun is a dangerous gamble, particularly since eating disorders typically start between the ages of 14 and 17 years. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, outside influences are a contributor to eating disorders. Images in print ads, magazines, movies and television promote the idea that being thin is crucial to happiness. While many young girls can see these images and not internalize them, for some these perfectly airbrushed young models become the standard of beauty they aim to achieve.

Bottom line

Like it or not, our young daughters are developing their sense of confidence and self-esteem while being bombarded with sexy images and clothing. Keep a running dialogue with your tween daughters about being healthy, not just thin. Talk to her about what a healthy, respectful relationship looks like — and how feeling confident and beautiful isn’t just about lacy panties. In order to raise strong, body-confident young ladies we need to be constantly one step ahead of media images from companies like Victoria’s Secret who will continue to remain popular with younger girls as long as the teenagers are still fans.

Tell us

What do you think about Victoria's Secret apparently marketing to a younger demographic?

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