Rev. Evan Dolive is a father of a 3-year-old girl. Like other children her age, "she loves princesses, Dora the Explorer, Doc McStuffins and drawing pictures for people. Her favorite foods are peanut butter and jelly, cheese and pistachios," he says.
As a concerned father, Dolive took to his blog last week to post an open letter to Victoria's Secret about the latest campaign for their PINK college lingerie line, which appeared to target adolescent girls with its "Bright Young Things" slogan.
Critics of the campaign point to Justin Bieber's performance at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in November and a statement by the company's chief financial officer in Miami earlier this year as evidence that younger girls are the focus of Victoria's Secret's recent marketing efforts.
“When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” Stuart Burgdoerfer said. “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.”
Victoria's Secret responded to backlash from parents with a statement on its Facebook page Monday.
"In response to questions we recently received, Victoria's Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women. Despite recent rumors, we have no plans to introduce a collection for younger women. 'Bright Young Things' was a slogan used in conjunction with the college spring break tradition," according to the statement.
Regardless of the company's intentions, parents like Dolive have seized the opportunity to express frustration regarding the sexualization of young girls. Rather than wanting to be older and cool, Dolive lists other ambitions he hopes his daughter might have.
"As a dad, this makes me sick," Dolive posted on his blog. "I believe that this sends the wrong message to not only my daughter, but to all young girls. I don’t want my daughter to ever think that her self-worth and acceptance by others is based on the choice of her undergarments.
"I want my daughter (and every girl) to be faced with tough decisions in her formative years of adolescence," Dolive wrote. "Decisions like, 'Should I be a doctor or a lawyer?' 'Should I take calculus as a junior or a senior?' 'Do I want to go to Texas A&M, or University of Texas or some Ivy League school?' 'Should I raise awareness for slave trafficking or lack of water in developing nations?' There are many, many more questions that all young women should be asking themselves."
Dolive isn't the only parent who took to the Internet to call out the new PINK campaign. Mother of three Kristen Welch also took issue with Victoria's Secret on her blog, We Are That Family.
"It’s time for moms to be offended and stand up to giant stores like Victoria’s Secret and the way they sell sex to our daughters," Welch posted.
Welch expressed the concerns she has every time she tries to go shopping with her daughter and the difficulty she has finding appropriate clothes. Welch is calling on parents to help guide their daughters.
"But this isn’t just about modesty or what stores sell, it’s not about sex or singleness or feminism, it’s about choices we make and boundaries we lay as parents as we raise them in a world filled with degradation and objectification," Welch posted. "It’s about loving our little girls and leading them by example. It’s about going against what our culture says is okay and trying to live more like Jesus."
Welch says her experiences have helped her identify at least seven important lessons for parents to pass on to their daughters. The list includes telling daughters things such as "you are valuable," "your worth isn't based on your appearance," 'you don't need a guy," "you are amazing," "you don't have to believe what you hear," "you have me" and "you can change the world."
Petitions have been created opposing the new Victoria's Secret campaign, such as Diana Cherry's on change.org. The petition currently has more than 3,900 supporters. A Facebook group titled 'Dear Victoria's Secret: Pull 'Bright Young Things'' was also created to help raise awareness.
Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor from Brigham Young University.