Dear Victoria’s Secret,
Allow me to begin this letter with a heart-felt thank you. You see, I’ve suffered from a horrible case of writers block for months now. But today? Today I have been unblocked thanks to you. While the story is rather old news, it’s been given a new life since Upworthy posted this bit by Saturday Night Live the other day. Had it not been for them; I would have remained unaware of what happened at one of your Texas stores. I just read that one of your employees recently denied a paying customer the right to feed her child in discreet dignity in one of your dressing rooms; that she suggested the woman who had shopped with a baby in tow (kudos to her), then purchased $150 in merchandise- was told to go feed her child in an alleyway! I have to be honest here; as this story continues to sink in, I’m absolutely amazed by the irony of it all.
You make your millions selling to women. Mothers, wives, girlfriends, young women; even teens and pre-teens. In some fashion the majority of your income is likely to come from a household with mothers. They may not be lactating, but at some point they were. At some point a vast majority of them probably even fed their children from their breasts. You know- those things you spend loads of advertising dollars plastering all over America; that you blow up, air brush, and shove in the faces of countless innocent passers-by walking through America’s malls day after day? (Oh, I do love a good pun.)
Let’s be clear here, breasts in their own way are pretty awesome. But see, you sell a bag of lies and bombard us with images throughout malls and shopping plazas; images that are sold on the backs of women’s beauty. Yours are photoshopped lies that feed and prey on the insecurities of girls and women. You use our beauty in a way that suits you as a product pusher, and further the notion that women’s breasts are for pleasure and consumption alone. You litter storefronts and commercials with images that are often degrading and demoralizing. (I’m thinking back to one particular commercial gem of yours that graced my television years back. It started with women in lingerie rolling all over beds, and ended with a model taking a rather disgusting guzzle of milk at the end of her cat walk.)
Your advertising department may be wondering why so many people are upset right now; thinking you merely need to point out that this was the action of one rogue employee and reassure people that you have a pro-breastfeeding corporate policy. I’m hopeful that you’re going to find there are a lot more people like me out there; a lot more people who are waking up to the unfortunate truths of your company and others like you. Your company has been part of a campaign that uses women and their unique beauty to sell a lie at their ultimate expense. You gladly take our money. You take our money and you kick a nursing mother out of your store? It’s amazing, if it weren’t so bloody infuriating.
And please don’t get me wrong here. I’m no prude. I like lingerie. My husband really likes lingerie. I made the difficult decision to follow my conscience over a decade ago when I stopped shopping at your stores. It was difficult in part because I liked your products… a lot. They were easily accessible and relatively affordable. I also knew that when I walked out the door as a consumer you’d never even notice; that it wouldn’t affect your bottom line one bit. But that wasn’t the point. I had spent years being uncomfortable with your large and obtrusive ads, and as the ads got bigger and more inappropriate, it became clear to me that you merely wanted to push your agenda. To this day- I can’t think of a mom friend who was/is comfortable walking by your storefront with their children. That’s sad. So I decided that I had to stop being a part of something that I found inappropriately aggressive in its advertising, and that continued with what I considered reckless disregard in advertising. Your company has shown time and time again that it has no regard for women, children, or the public in general. And this recent move by your employee was just too poetic, the irony too great to go unmentioned.
As I began this letter with a thanks, I must also end with one. Thank you for helping me see with more clarity than ever before. I’ve never felt as vindicated, as satisfied or as certain with a decision as I do now.