No Secret: Victoria Pink turns Mom’s Cheeks Red

"Open it," Theresa said as she handed me my Christmas gift, "but don't freak out when you see the box."

This could have meant a lot of things. My friend Theresa loves to surprise people with unique and sometimes expensive gifts. There was no telling what she had done to make my Christmas present a special one.

I peeled the wrapping paper off the square box to reveal the unmistakable pink packaging that comes from only one store – a place where I never shop – Victoria's Secret.

This was a critical moment. I didn't want to hurt my girlfriend's feelings when she clearly was excited to present a gift she had chosen just for me.

Secretly I prayed she was only recycling the box.

"Oh my goodness," I said faintly. "What could this be?"

I hesitated before opening the top, looking left and right to see who was sitting near us in the restaurant where we had met for our annual gift exchange. Underneath the pink tissue paper was a black satin kimono and a generous gift card. "Feel free to take this back and get whatever you want."

"Wow," I said. "This is quite the gift."

Sensing my unease, Theresa unleashed a friendly lecture she obviously had rehearsed in advance.

"I know you – you're too practical," she said. "You would never go to Victoria's Secret to buy something frilly or feminine. But you're going away soon on a vacation with your husband, and I think you should have a little something in your suitcase that makes you feel beautiful. So just get over the embarrassment and get yourself to the mall."

Girlfriends don't mince words.

I thanked Theresa and promised to enjoy the process of indulging myself. Then I went home and hid the box in my closet.

A week later, I put the Victoria's Secret gift box on the kitchen counter next to my purse as I organized myself for an afternoon of errands. "Victoria's Secret?" my daughter asked, shooting me a raised-eyebrow look.

I explained the gift to Katie, who recoiled at the thought of her mother shopping for lingerie. "I think you should get pajamas," she said. "And they'd better be flannel, missy."

Victoria's Secret doesn't sell flannel. In fact, as anyone knows who has ever walked past the chain store's display windows, it doesn't sell much that could be labeled "pajamas." Nevertheless, I was armed with an item to exchange and a gift card from my friend, along with her niggling to buy something sophisticated and special.

I trudged through the snow in the mall parking lot, clutching the pink box and steeling myself against the inevitable embarrassment I was about to experience. "Where is Theresa when I need her?" I thought. This was an errand I probably shouldn't have tackled on my own.

There are three things you notice when you step inside a Victoria's Secret store: First, the apparel is not intended for adult women. It's meant for girls who still love the color of cotton candy. Second, other than the billboard-sized posters of voluptuous models, there are no women in the store older than 20; and third, no one shops alone. They shop with their boyfriends.

I wandered around display tables, absorbing the techno beat of the music while avoiding eye contact with the dozens of teen boys holding purses and shopping bags and offering advice and opinions to their partners. How did all these teenagers get so comfortable buying bras and nighties?

Call me conservative – heck, call me repressed – but the atmosphere in Victoria's Secret was surreal.

It's one thing to read news stories about the hypersexualization of today's young people. It's another thing to watch a generation of tweens and teens stand in long lines to buy flimsy leopard-print fabrics emblazoned with the word "Pink."

Then again, there are no secrets for Victoria and her customers. Just the message – loud and clear – that being "hot, young and sexy" is all that really matters.

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  • Guest

    What did you get?  That store has become so appalling.  It looks like a ***** house to be honest.  It's degrading to women.  I remember going in there years ago, when it was new, and seeing somewhat racy stuff.  Now it really is disgusting.  I don't like seeing Tyra Banks or Heidi Klum on TV.  I certainly don't consider them some of the most beautiful women in the world.  The world is very sad with this stuff trampling us.  if I had small children, I wouldn't take them in that end of the mall.  Here's a clue:  Sears has some beautiful lingerie that isn't expensive or disgraceful.  You might have written a story about your 'friend' – is she really your friend after all?  And I do have to wonder where the connection is to religion or God with this article.

  • Guest

    Yes, what did you get?  There are some adult-looking things in there, you just have to go toward the very back of the store.  And every married couple needs some play clothes, right?  ;)

  • Guest

    My wife has all the equipment I could ever want.  Sure in the beginning I felt we must have some stuff.  But, that is never used.  We express our love very well regardless of what is worn before.  I wouldn't judge anyone either way but heck Victoria Secret is making a ton of money.

    GK – God is good!

  • Guest

    Marybeth Hicks writes:

    How did all these teenagers get so comfortable buying bras and nighties?

    Yes. How indeed? For one thing, the popular culture spoon-feeds them with the notion that sex for young (and not-so-young) people is no more than a kind of recreational activity which is sometimes associated with "love," but not necessary in order to experience the "fun" of the encounter. The "Cosmo girl" in full (maybe "full" is a misnomer here) dress uniform in other words. A Victoria's Secret clothing shop is to sex what a Dick's Sporting Goods store is to soccer. Buy the accessories. Play the game.

    As conscientious Catholics who regularly visit this board we understand (at least rudimentarily) that the main expressions of true marital love are unitive and procreative. Such notions are utterly foreign in the context of the Victoria's Secret notions of sexual expression, much as they are in the pornographic subculture.

    What do you want to bet that at the end of her shopping "spree" at V.S. Ms. Hicks ended up purchasing a nice pair of shoes or bottle of perfume? Cool

  • Guest

    deirdrew—I think the fact that "religion" and "God" are absent from this article is part of the point–it was a gift to celebrate the birth of Christ!    I agree that I would rethink the "friendship" of this "friend".  She OBVIOUSLY doesn't know you, Marybeth.  Call me a prude but what a truly WEIRD, Christmas gift from a "friend".  Has she no respect for your privacy?  Oh, yes, she meant well…….the thought that counts, right?

     Oh, I should just go scrub the floor…… 

    Jesus, I Trust in You!

  • Guest

    So, Marybeth, what DID you get? C'mon, you can't leave us hanging…..Embarassed

    I have to agree with those who thought you should re-think your relationship with Theresa.  She obviously either doesn't really know you, or doesn't approve of the choices you've made.

    My guess, based on my own experience and tendencies, is that you bought a gift card for Theresa's birthday.  ???

  • Guest

    Ladies,

     

       I believe I purchased the LAST modest nightgown VS made back in 1993 for my wedding night – I can count on one hand how many times it was worn – it is now part of the costume box for the kids (it is SO modest it can be in the costume box!!).  15 years and four kids later I'd still take a comfy old t-shirt and soft cotton shorts for "evening attire" – my daughter will NEVER set foot in VS if I have any say in the matter – my boys already know that is the place we go all the way around the mall to avoid!  "Mom, why are those mostly naked women in a cage over there?" (store front display) – Nuff said.  My hubby is always shocked at thier ads/displays -"What's the difference between VS and pornography?" he asks – nothing.  Someone out there in Catholic land should start making very feminine, modest, pretty "evening attire" – I'd wear a Pride and Prejudice nightgown in a heart beat!!Smile (no corset, thank you very much) – KMc 

  • Guest

    I don't see what the problem was in figuring out the gift — as she said: Underneath the pink tissue paper was a black satin kimono and a generous gift card. "Feel free to take this back and get whatever you want."

    So the gift ws a kimono and a gift card.

  • Guest

    Mary, you don't "get it"!  We assume she tried to take back the kimono and, when she saw her alternatives, decided to keep it.  But, what did she buy with the gift card???!  Wink

  • Guest

    A few points that I think are important to remember:

    1. Before picking on Marybeth's friend she explained herself and her motives,

    "I know you – you're too practical," she said. "You would never go to Victoria's Secret to buy something frilly or feminine. But you're going away soon on a vacation with your husband, and I think you should have a little something in your suitcase that makes you feel beautiful. So just get over the embarrassment and get yourself to the mall."

    *emphasis added

    As Catholic women we all put our children, faith, other responsibilities, and husbands ahead of ourselves.  Marybeth's friend was giving her a gift that required that she remember that she is a woman, not only a mother, wife, and homemaker.  By making it a VS gift it could not be returned and used for something only practical.

    2.   To answer "dennisofraleigh" post that ". . . the main expressions of true marital love are unitive and procreative."  It is true.  However, unity with ones spouse in not merely physically uniting in the marital embrace.  It is the remedy to concupiscence and being united soul, heart, mind, and body in the renewal of the marriage sacrament.

    I would not attend Mass in a comfy t-shirt and sweat pants, because I show a lack of respect to God and the rest of the congragation buy not preparing myself physically.  So too, we can show respect of of our spouse, God, and the sacrament of marriage by putting a little effort into our appearance, and at the same time prepare our spirit, heart, and mind.  Highlighting our femaninity, displaying our beauty, can be done without objectifying ourselves.

     

  • Guest

    Finally, not in any way to condone the way VS does things, it is possible to find tasteful, quality underwear, pajamas, and lingere there.

  • Guest

    harlequin05,

    "Highlighting our femaninity, displaying our beauty, can be done without objectifying ourselves."

    Well said!!!  May God take the beauty that a wife presents to her husband and grace it to draw the couple closer into their sacrament.  Keep us all from swinging the pendulum too far back in respect of love in a practical sense!  We all must remember that VS is mainly raunchy because we wonderful people do not remind appropriate people more often that women should not be objectified, even in marriage.

    GK – God is good!

  • Guest

    I hate to be the one to break this to some of you, but the ubiquitous word "pink" at VS and other sexually oriented areas of our society has nothing to do with cotton candy.  It is a commonly used, extremely vulgar slang in the pornography business for female genitalia.

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