Over the last several years, anyone in an American public high school will have noticed the ascendance of one fashion brand among teenage girls: the “PINK” brand. I do not have statistics, but based on my experience (daily attendance) I would guess that among American girls 14-18, it must be the most popular, a regrettable fact. PINK logos and taglines, many of them salacious (see samples) are printed in large letters across the rear of the pants, where one would prefer not to look. My cursory online research shows that where one cannot see, their clothing messages are even more disturbing. I know, fashion lines come and fashion lines go, and certainly, one unfashionable older guy’s opinion will make no difference to their success. But I want to point out how this particular line predisposes our young women toward accepting a pre-feminist, limited conception of themselves.. Because it would portray them as “tarts,” or sexually-adventurous before their time, the PINK clothing sends a message that is “anti-woman.”
What makes me angriest is the calculated, sneaky way a huge corporation has taken away the innocence of many of our young women–perhaps half–who mindlessly buy this product. Before many even begin to think of themselves in sexual terms, PINK clothes “brand them” as ostensible libertines advertising their randiness. Here’s how it works:
- A pre-teen girl looking for guidance on how to be sophisticated (as most all would) looks up and sees her “cool” older role-models sporting these degrading clothes, and so
- Pre-teen wants them, too.
The technology of PINK fashion, drawing from adolescent psychology and shrewd marketing, is very effective, but to our society’s disadvantage.
As a father of a pre-teen girl, I got to see how this fashion tech worked ten years ago when my oldest girl was a middle-schooler. Being the very fashionable gal she was (and still is), she decided that the very best place for her to buy her clothing (or rather to select her clothing, which I would then buy for her) was at a store at the mall called “The Limited Too.” Sounds innocent enough, right?
Well, while wondering through the racks, bored and waiting for my daughter to make up her mind, I noticed with alarm that the store was doing some remodeling that had temporarily, I was sure, had the unfortunate effect of removing a wall that it shared with its next-door mall neighbor, the very adult, very sexual lingerie store, Victoria’s Secret. Upset, I went up to one of the workers at Limited Too, and pointed out the disturbing connection between the stores–one was for pre-teen and early teenage girls, one for very mature women. This was like letting little kids into an R-rated movie! With a scornful smile, the clerk told me that, no, actually, these stores were together by design–that both were owned and operated by Victoria’s Secret. I was stunned, and after that episode refused to let my daughter shop there again, a futile gesture, perhaps, but I would not be a part of this not-so-subliminal push to exploit and cheapen America’s girls. I let both my girls know of my concerns, and anyone who would listen, too.
Look, I’m no “slut-shamer”: I have no problem with mature women being proud of their sexual activity. But I wish clothing lines like PINK were not pushing America’s immature women into conceiving of themselves in purely sexual terms before they have even begun to understand who they are as people. How many great brains are lost once a teenage girl starts deriving her sense of worth from what her body alone can get her? Along with poverty, drugs, and obesity, don’t you agree that damaging fashion lines like PINK have to be ranked among threats to America’s public schools?