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Monday, December 27, 2010

I Am Victoria's Victim.

I'm not a genius or a prodigy or that girl who played Winnie Cooper, but I'm a pretty smart person. I don't follow most trends without thinking, I try not to use words I don't understand, I don't buy things off the TV. Still, with all my rationality and with all the raging feminism of my twenties, I do have my weaknesses. And one of them is Victoria's Secret.

I waddle through the mall, balancing the Christmas presents I need to exchange, arms laced with the straps of shopping bags. I see it in the distance, glowing pink. On either side of its entrance, posters fill the space from ceiling to floor with images of open-mouthed women and their extraordinarily long torsos. A scent, vaguely vanilla, seems to traipse into my nostrils. I strain to avert my eyes. Silently remind myself, It's a trap. They know what appeals to your young female brain. If you go in there, you'll spend money you don't have on items you don't need and then you'll be hooked and never, ever escape. But it is too late. I am lured into this wonderland of lace, glitter, cotton strewn about messily on purpose. I give myself over to the poppy music, inadvertently changing my footsteps to match the beat, until my zombie stride is identical to those of the other shopping prisoners. My smart-person brain is taken hostage. All my thoughts become one repeating mantra: This is sexy. You need sexy. Must be sexy. Buy the sexy.

I find myself twiddling through delicate fabrics, turning over pretty items in my hands. Suddenly, $70 sounds like a perfectly reasonable amount to spend on a nightgown. People who wear these sweatshirts have qualities that I need. My lumpy skin looks nothing like this mannequin, but maybe that's because I don't own this sparkly thing.

I need more money. I need to lose my belly fat. I need to brighten my skin. I need to slather on these creams, pat my face with this powder pompom, wear high heels, inexplicably, to bed. I need to pout my lips like her, I need to pose myself like her, I need to buy everything in this room so I can be exactly what their labels promise: a bombshell, a centerfold, a vixen, a tease.

And then I'm in line, palming an overpriced tube of lotion whose smell would not have enticed me half as much at Macy's. I fiddle about with miniature last-minute products strategically placed near the register. Perhaps I should be wearing lipgloss. Men must like oily, slippery magenta lipgloss, or else it wouldn't be called Beauty Rush, or else it wouldn't be here. Maybe I should get some and watch the woman behind the counter wrap it in hot pink tissue paper and then I can be desirable glamorous wanted worthy. But it's my turn to check out now, and the reality of making a monetary transaction zaps enough sense to my brain that I drop the lipgloss back in its container. I sign my unnecessarily pink receipt and I finally emerge from the store with only one bag. With each step toward the pretzel kiosk, I feel Victoria's grip on me loosen. I am no longer sultry. I am no longer a slave.

Why does that place have so much control over me? I got decent standardized test scores! I've bookmarked CNN.com! In the real world, I am confident, comfortable, and proud of my body and the person inside it. I wear mismatching socks and I only own three pairs of jeans. I should be above these too-obvious marketing schemes, but I'm not. Not quite.

So I wonder, how do you deal with this kind of temptation to spend heaps of money on qualities that can't be bought? How do you convince yourself that sexiness has nothing to do with labels, and that being a good person has little to do with sexiness? Is it always negative? As often as it makes me feel inadequate, its products also make me feel sort of empowered and feminine. Where is the line?

I can't be the only smart girl who still gets sucked in by marketing once in a while. I'm interested in hearing your opinions on the subject. Until then, I hope you're all having a great week. I'm looking forward to reading your responses!

Chipotle burritos this year: 31
Subscribers: 41,613
Nail color: "Devilish," Revlon
Miles run today: 0, but I ate cheesecake, which is practically the same thing.

P.S. It is not sexiness that I have an issue with. Sexiness is awesome and ABSOLUTELY a trait that smart women can possess. My issue is with DESIGNER sexiness. My issue is with paying twice as much for something because it comes on a pink hanger. You know?

108 comments:

Elizabeth said...

You know, that's really interesting. I, like you, consider myself to be a fairly intelligent young woman but somehow when I see things like Victoria's Secret, my immediate reaction is, "Oo, pretty."

Is it tied to the Cosmo phenomenon? I'm inadequate unless I've got sexy underwear (that no one ever sees) on?

Or do I truly do it for me? Now that I'm not changing in gym what do I gain from having cute underpants? Interesting.

Tara said...

For the most part, I just tell myself that things won't make me happy or fulfilled, they will only make me fit in. The line is drawn when you fit in just enough to be accepted by the majority and yet you're quirky enough to standout just a little at the same time.
I think if buying something from your favourite store for the hopes that it will make you sexier is a lie that marketing companies want you to believe. In all, if you appeal to people it is hopefully not what you wear but how you act that draws them in. If someone judges you on what you're wearing, then they aren't worthy of your time.
So when you're shopping ask if you need it, if you'll like it, and if it is just enough to not be weird but to be unique.

anna said...

My best defense is to think of how broke I really am, that Christmas is a small influx of money that often sits in my room just tempting me to buy new sneakers and what not. And then my dad asks me if I want to go to the bank w/ him since he's already going and then I can deposit the money I got. It helps when I think about how out of all the stuff I'd buy, it'd probably add up to the cost of one book. Yeah, I like to think of how money-less I actually am. That stops me in my tracks.

Anonymous said...

Indeed they do have very long torsos. I do not think lip gloss is attractive. I doubt your skin is lumpy. If only I were as smart as you. Yes I know this isn't a proper paragraph.

Zaphiie said...

I tend not to be sucked in to buying things like these, simply because I'm perpetually broke, and as a result, I baulk at huge price tags. But I am sucked into liking such as these, and without being bigheaded, I regard myself as smart. Argh. Stupid marketing.

KatieSham said...

I don't know why this is. It really doesn't make sense. I tell myself that their products are superior to all others and that's why it's not stupid to buy their's.

I guess that's partially true, but not completely. I think if you have the money, why not spend it on something that makes you feel wonderful, empowered, and sexy? Not that these things are what you NEED to feel, but if they make you feel better about yourself, then why not?

Sandy said...

Well, at least you make the marketers happy because now they can feel like they're doing their job!

Maybe you should carry around a recorder and whenever you feel tempted to go into the store, press play and it will proceed to say: WALK AWAY. YOU ARE TOO SEXY FOR THIS STORE.

Katie said...

Everything in Victoria's Secret looks uncomfortable to me. I'm not about to pay obscene amounts of money to be uncomfortable under my practical, modest, and mostly comfortable clothes. My pajamas hardly ever match and I adore over-sized sweatshirts. I'm not fat, I just enjoy food. I also know that the Victoria's Secret models are so photoshopped you'd never recognize them on the street.

Katie said...

Everything in Victoria's Secret looks uncomfortable to me. I'm not about to pay obscene amounts of money to be uncomfortable under my practical, modest, and mostly comfortable clothes. My pajamas hardly ever match and I adore over-sized sweatshirts. I'm not fat, I just enjoy food. I also know that the Victoria's Secret models are so photoshopped you'd never recognize them on the street.

Lauren said...

Hayley, I'm going to be 100% honest here: it made me feel better reading this, because I feel the exact same way. Does that make me sound crazy? Probably, but whatever.

In 7th or 8th grade, I asked for a bright green hoodie from Victoria's Secret PINK for Christmas, and now every time I wear it, I feel weird about it for some reason. When people ask me "Oh, where did you get your hoodie?" I always kind of feel odd about telling them, because I almost don't want to admit that I was sucked in by their promise of "comfort in the most luxurious, sexy way". YEAH.

Anonymous said...

Hayley, this blog post makes me so sad! This is not the way you should feel about going into Victoria's Secret. God forbid smart girls like pretty things? No! It is perfectly okay to be smart and confident and comfortable in your own skin and also enjoy indulging in something sparkly that smells good! We're smart so we're supposed to wear potato sacks and trash bags? I mean, come on! You know, Tina Fey wears lip gloss. I bet you she's even crossed the threshold of one or two Victoria's Secrets. You really shouldn't have to feel guilty.

Maria said...

Sexiness is misunderstood. People like to say it's wrong and immoral. I like to think it's empowering. It's empowering because it's a biological need and because girls, characteristically, like pretty sexy things like lacy underwear and sultry perfumes. Media plays a role in this.
Sexy and smart can definitely coexist. Studies have shown women with hourglass figures are "smarter" and produce "smarter" offspring...actually, that's debatable since hourglass figures are rare themselves, so that may be a minority bias or whatever that term is called that I forgot from Psych 101.

cartwheelsandpotter said...

i totally get what you mean. the problem is thst the stores do this on purpose, because its advertisingand they know "what we want".
there isnt a lot you can do about it.
you are a great person, who doesnt need those products to look sexy

Ravenclaw2313 said...

I'm usually able to avoid Victoria's Secret but I often find myself drawn to lingerie because it looks so sexy on those models and surely it will do the same for me! It doesn't matter that they're 100lbs lighter than me because if I wear that underwear I WILL look that good.

I think it boils down to the social desire to look good and even if you're perfectly happy with your body lingerie promises to make you look better. Unlike a lot of ads and clothes out there we get the feeling that lingerie looks good on everyone. You're never to fat for a bra. That I think is the allure. Well, that and the fact that the smell has the ability to take over your brain for just long enough to get you in the store.

Miranda said...

You know what was the worst for me as a teenager? Hollister. All of the beautiful employees that had to say "hey, what's up?" to you and the picture of young beach bodies in teenage love? So cruel. And the lights are dark and it looks like a club in there and you can smell the Hollister perfume, you wanted to be one of the cool kids in there.
Great post!
Miranda<3

Allison said...

I, too, feel very feminine whenever I enter Victoria's Secret with my friends. However, we usually find ourselves walking around aimlessly, or just staring and random items. That's because we know that for most of the stuff in there, either it's too expensive or our parents would die if they knew that we had it.

To me, VS is just a label. Why pay more just to have that brand, which makes people think that it's the softest, the most fashionable, the most mainstream, when, in reality, there are much more affordable, off-brand, but equal quality stores? Why spend $70 on something when you could get it, plus six more things, elsewhere for the same price?

At my high school, the most popular girls wear VS PINK, Aerie, and lots of other brands that claim to be comfortable and effortlessly adorable. That causes some of the less popular girls buy from those stores too. I, on the other hand, just don't get it. Why would you think that a label defines who you are and where you fit in the school's social structure? In reality, it just doesn't. Who you are and how you act defines you, not the clothes you wear. Nobody really notices that you're not wearing a certain brand, and when you are wearing that brand, it doesn't win you any more attention.

That's why I always go for what makes the most logical sense when making a decision about how to spend my money. I have to admit that I still slip and go for the brand every once in a while... It's just so tempting. Still, as they say, we do the best that we can do.

Two Wits said...

I think part of the issue is that we're inclined to believe that the more expensive something is, the better it will be. Because I don't fall victim to fashion/make-up interests, I shall put this in terms of something I do fall victim with: frames. A few months ago, I had just bought an autograph off of ebay and I needed to get it framed. The size was going to be odd so I started with custom framing to get measurements. After about 20 minutes talking with them, I was fully convinced that if I didn't purchase a custom $90 matted frame that my autograph would burst into flames or be irrepairably damaged somehow. Once I left after purchasing it, my sister told me what a moron I was and now my autograph sits comfortably in a $5 frame with black construction paper matting.

Jessie said...

I understand what you mean when you say that sexy underwear can be empowering. I actually have one really pretty bra that I write papers in sometimes because it makes me feel more confident. (Although the "I'm sexy"="I can write this paper" logic is probably flawed.) It feels empowering, but it shouldn't because, like Cosmo, Victoria's Secret makes its money by telling girls that they NEED to be sexier and that they can only do this through buying their products. Succumbing to this should not be empowering, but it sometimes feels that way. This only continues the cycle because, well, if the products make you feel sexier, you're not going to stop buying them, even if you can't really afford them.

Anonymous said...

I am also a Victoria's Victim, I can't help it, everything looks so pretty and sexy and gorgeous on the models and sometimes even just on the hangers.

Part of the reason I get sucked in is because of that irresistible marketing image, but also because cute underwear or bras make me feel cuter, even if I'm not wearing anything terribly cute overtop. And I realize that their marketing and prices could make it seem overrated, but the most comfortable bra I own is from VS, so there is some truth and value in their claims.

Most of my undergarments are from Target ($10 bra, heck yes), and I have successfully made VS a once in a while treat for myself (and my boyfriend).

aminime said...

I consider myself to be an intelligent young woman, but I personally have no problem with Victoria's Secret. I buy sexy lingerie for the same reason I shave my legs: because I (not anyone else) like the result. I don't spend much money on it though, although if I had it I'd spend it, I'm sure. I don't feel like I'm being sucked in; if it looks good on me, and it makes me feel good, I don't see why I shouldn't buy it and love wearing it! I think being sexy is a feeling you have that has nothing to do with labels, and everything to do with confidence.

However, I have a big problem with Victoria's Secret if it is causing even one person to be pulled into the idea that spending money on any item can make them a better person or that conforming is good. I don't think it's right that people should feel that they need to change themselves like that.

I guess what I mean can be summed up in one sentence: Being cool or awesome or sexy or a good person is something you control and has nothing to do with spending money – but if spending money on something makes you feel good, why not go for it?

Kaitlyn w/ a K said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to indulge in a little designer sexiness now and then. Nothing!

Let's be honest. Designer things can be overpriced and unnecessary, sure. But the occasional nice thing can make you feel good. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a little retail therapy as long as you don't go overboard and spend beyond your means.

If all else fails, wait a day or two and see if you still want it.

Sarah said...

I have a Masters Degree in Science and I too am lured to such things as you have described. I am glad I have discovered my countries equivalent of a bargain clothing store sells REALLY nice lingerie and REALLY cheap prices, so it doesn't break the bank!

And I do feel good knowing I'm wearing something lacy and pink, even if only for my own enjoyment! (Though great for my boyfriend too!)

TheGingerHermione said...

It's strange, I'm 15 and although I don't care about being "popular" I do like to impress people. I don't wear black with brown, etc (even though I personally don't see what's wrong with it) and I wear more revealing clothes when I go to parties or my boyfriend's house. The strange thing is, despite the fact that I have to change in front of boys every day and am often seen in my underwear, I've never actually given a shit when it comes to sexy underwear/bras. I honestly go to Zellers and Walmart because they're cheaper and more comfortable.

Cassie said...

This is me in Sephora. I'm make up-obsessed, but I'm perfectly happy with Maybelline and Covergirl. Until I wander into Sephora and decide that I need flourescent eye shadow that costs $20 for one small color. I'm smart and cheap! I don't know how I start completely changing everything I believe when I walk up to that counter.
Maybe the problem is that it's much easier to try to become sexy by buying lotion than it is to put work and effort into it. Victoria convinces us that sexy is just that easy.

Katie said...

I'm not your "typical" girl in that I have always always hated shopping for clothes. Even now at 21 years old, I rarely go out shopping & when I do get clothes it's most likely something my mom saw and bought to give to me. Because of my disdain for shopping, I was immune to the pull of Victoria's Secret products. But when I decided that my cheap old bras with wires poking out of them had lived their lives & needed to be replaced, things changed. I went to the VS website and picked out a couple nice bras and my boyfriend bought them for me for my birthday. Then I discovered they had dresses and sweaters and everything looks so perfect and wonderful in the pictures...I just can't resist! Everything is too pricey so what I do is just add things I like to my wishlist and leave them there until I have a giftcard or extra money to sift through the items and buy one or two things eventually.

I don't know what it is about them, but your blog was really spot on as far as my feelings on VS too. You're not alone! I'm pretty smart and generally don't bother trying to dress up, but Victoria's Secret things just pull me in and make me feel like I could be so cute/sexy/confident in them. Whatever their marketing strategy is, they're doin' it right.

Katie said...

I'm not your "typical" girl in that I have always always hated shopping for clothes. Even now at 21 years old, I rarely go out shopping & when I do get clothes it's most likely something my mom saw and bought to give to me. Because of my disdain for shopping, I was immune to the pull of Victoria's Secret products. But when I decided that my cheap old bras with wires poking out of them had lived their lives & needed to be replaced, things changed. I went to the VS website and picked out a couple nice bras and my boyfriend bought them for me for my birthday. Then I discovered they had dresses and sweaters and everything looks so perfect and wonderful in the pictures...I just can't resist! Everything is too pricey so what I do is just add things I like to my wishlist and leave them there until I have a giftcard or extra money to sift through the items and buy one or two things eventually.

I don't know what it is about them, but your blog was really spot on as far as my feelings on VS too. You're not alone! I'm pretty smart and generally don't bother trying to dress up, but Victoria's Secret things just pull me in and make me feel like I could be so cute/sexy/confident in them. Whatever their marketing strategy is, they're doin' it right.

Katie said...

I'm not your "typical" girl in that I have always always hated shopping for clothes. Even now at 21 years old, I rarely go out shopping & when I do get clothes it's most likely something my mom saw and bought to give to me. Because of my disdain for shopping, I was immune to the pull of Victoria's Secret products. But when I decided that my cheap old bras with wires poking out of them had lived their lives & needed to be replaced, things changed. I went to the VS website and picked out a couple nice bras and my boyfriend bought them for me for my birthday. Then I discovered they had dresses and sweaters and everything looks so perfect and wonderful in the pictures...I just can't resist! Everything is too pricey so what I do is just add things I like to my wishlist and leave them there until I have a giftcard or extra money to sift through the items and buy one or two things eventually.

I don't know what it is about them, but your blog was really spot on as far as my feelings on VS too. You're not alone! I'm pretty smart and generally don't bother trying to dress up, but Victoria's Secret things just pull me in and make me feel like I could be so cute/sexy/confident in them. Whatever their marketing strategy is, they're doin' it right.

Katie said...

I'm not your "typical" girl in that I have always always hated shopping for clothes. Even now at 21 years old, I rarely go out shopping & when I do get clothes it's most likely something my mom saw and bought to give to me. Because of my disdain for shopping, I was immune to the pull of Victoria's Secret products. But when I decided that my cheap old bras with wires poking out of them had lived their lives & needed to be replaced, things changed. I went to the VS website and picked out a couple nice bras and my boyfriend bought them for me for my birthday. Then I discovered they had dresses and sweaters and everything looks so perfect and wonderful in the pictures...I just can't resist! Everything is too pricey so what I do is just add things I like to my wishlist and leave them there until I have a giftcard or extra money to sift through the items and buy one or two things eventually.

I don't know what it is about them, but your blog was really spot on as far as my feelings on VS too. You're not alone! I'm pretty smart and generally don't bother trying to dress up, but Victoria's Secret things just pull me in and make me feel like I could be so cute/sexy/confident in them. Whatever their marketing strategy is, they're doin' it right.

nova said...

Maybe it's because I'm only 14 that I don't desire to go anywhere near Victoria's Secret. Actually, I know plenty of people that have been going there for years, but I can't stand it. I'm not really into the whole giant posters of 'fit' girls in 'sexy' poses, as it rather bothers me...
It makes me feel awkward about my body and uncomfortable about looking at half naked women because I'm not really into that sort of thing.
All that aside... hmmm what is Victoria's secret? Well, it's all marketing and media and it's pretty. Who wouldn't want pretty lace outlining their underwear... wait. What? Why would I need that? I don't, and neither does anyone else.
I do sadly find myself always thinking that I'm too big, and no boy will ever like me, and I'm ugly because I don't look like all the other "pretty girls". I hate that feeling, and it's hard to overcome. Trying to entice you to buy stuff because it will supposedly make you like those people because you have sparkly lips? What a cruel store. If it's a store for women, then why do they make you feel like crap so you can appear 'beautiful' for a man?

Alexa said...

I get past the lure of Victoria's Secret for many reasons, which I'm going to fashionably organize into a list.
1. I usually shop with my mom, grandma, and brother. I can only imagine how awkward it would be to go into Victoria's Secret with them, so I always walk past the store with my eyes focused on the linoleum mall floor.
2. I'm 14 and my boobs are practically nonexistent, so I doubt they sell bras that would fit me.
3. I'm 14. I can't justify using $70 on a bra, seeing as you can get three bras at WalMart for a third of the price. Not to mention that nobody is going to see the bra I'm weraing.
I'd be lying if I said that I haven't ever thought of wearing a Victoria's Secret bra and magically transforming into one of the skinny models whose skin glows and has hair that bounces with every step. I have no idea how to resist the flashy ads and the alluring image of the models, but I think acknowledging the fact that they're hard to resist is a step in the right direction.

Nicci Weasley said...

First of all:
Damn you're a good writer!!!
Second, I get sucked in to that kind of stuff too sometimes.
Not rarely I struggle with with some "secret" side of me which is controlled not by the rationality I usually apply to everything but by my secret desire to be the attractive girl* with the mental surplus to look awesome along with everything else...
Even though I see what is happening, I stil cannot help it.

* Should probably note thet I unfortunately have HUGE issues with the way I look.

I'm Ali B-blogger and schoolgirl said...

Hey :) I had to google Victoria's secret because I'm English, but I consider myself quite smart usually. And I totally get why you get like that when you shop there. If it's any consolation, you're not the only one. Even just mobile site made me want to get a flat stomach. And eat less chocolate. You're a really good writer, by the way :) Just think about how, unlike the VS models, we can eat pizza and fried stuff without getting fired.

BenCracknell said...

I don't think you have anything to fear. Nor do any other smart girls who are ashamed of buying pretty things, or giving into a modern society where boobs are prized over brains. As long as you know deep down that you're a smart, courages woman with respect for yourself and others, then spending $70 on a Nigh Gown is no big deal. If that's what makes you happy, even in that small moment, then why shouldn't you buy it? The smart Hayley we all know and love isn't going to fade away because she spend some money at Victoria's secret. She'll just be wearing different clothes.

As for me, my weakness is really bad TV. I consider myself to be relatively smart. English is my strongest subject, but even in Math's, my worse, I'm still passing. I really love reality TV, like Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And although, a lot of the time, when I watch it I hear my brain screaming things at the TV saying how it's impossible that Kim would confess her hate for dogs are the start of an episode, and then as if my God, a dog appears outside her front door and she has to look after it, I still find it a perfectly fine way to enjoy myself. We all work hard, and we all know what makes us happy. We deserve time off from out usual self, so if I want to curl up under my bed and watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians instead of reading Megan McCafferty, then I will. And I know deep down that, under any normal circumstances, if I has to pick between the two, it would be Sloppy Firsts all the way.

oomboo2 said...

I don't think that Victoria's Secret is that bad.
I like things that are pretty and I like feeling sexy. I also like having money, so I tend to attempt to feel pretty and sexy via forever21 clothes. But honestly, Victoria Secret stuff is nicer; it lasts longer and works better (specifically bras). And sales are lovely.
I think that there is line between being a Victoria's secret zombie and occasionally getting things from there. And I think there marketing is good, even if it utilizes the impossible standard that girls attempt to match. Every advertisement does that, whether it's boobs, body, or hair.

Bel said...

Ha!
This post was awesome.

Okay, in my opinion, our craving for Victoria's Secret has nothing to do with our intelligence because... Well, there are much "smarter" people who actually, you know, studied years of advertising and marketing to make you go into the store and spend unnecessairily high sums of money on stuff you don't actually need.

No matter how smart we are, it's more of a gut thing. It's something beyond brains -- those marketing campaigns are designed in order to make you think that you're gonna be sexier if you buy glittery lotion. It's sexuality.

Those adverts aren't designed to make you feel smart. Smart girls already know that they don't *need* any of that. If they're brains are already taken care of, the outside needs pampering. And buying sexy lingerie can actually make you feel better about yourself even if you have no one to show it to.

Happy holidays!

xx

Emily said...

While I absolutely understand where you are coming from, I don't think that Victoria's Secret is the enemy here. We live in a society that markets. That's just a given. And Victoria's Secret is a merchant, no? They are trying to sell their product just like anyone else.

And in my experience with the store, they have NEVER been pushy or demeaning towards me as a customer. How can you so easily forget the customer service they provide? They happy and helpful fitting room attendants, the lovely register girls... I think it is more about making women comfortable and beautiful rather than over-sexing.

While yes, the naked women do look perfect, would you be as allured if it were you or i on that poster standing in our delicates?

They're trying to make money. It happens.

And Hayley, you are GORGEOUS. Don't let anyone think you're not! Sexy is as sexy does. And you are sexy.

Kai said...

Thank you so much for posting this!
Whenever I go into any of the high end stores like Victoria's Secret, for some reason I think that having nice underwear and bras is going to make me feel better, and have better self confidence, and I don't even know what! They have some underwear that costs THIRTEEN DOLLARS. You could buy a paperback book for the cost of that one pair of underwear.
Yet, I still get sucked in, and want it all.

infinitecauseways said...

I can't stand the Victoria's Secret television adverts partly because they're flashy and degrading and aimed at men, but partly because they reveal the most insecure parts of me and I immediately want to become these women with the little body and the creamy skin and the brightly coloured underwear. And the legs. I want to be the long skinny legs. The hair! The television hair! All of it! GIVE IT TO ME. Hahahaha. So I hate them only because I hate what it says about me that I want these things.

But it's comforting to know I'm not the only one. With most adverts, shops, displays, scents whatever I can get over it, give myself a shake and get on out. But I think there's something to be said about underwear that hits a bit deeper. Partly, for me, it's an insecurity to do with people (including me) seeing the shape of my body and how underwear can change/disguise/force me to improve that. It also obviously has a lot to with the sexual economy we live in and the fact that we are a generation of women who see and judge bodies everywhere we go. Victoria's Secret has managed, by some magic, to position itself as the medicine, the cure and the means to that bodily perfect end. The pop music, the excessively complimentary staff who do not make me feet fat and ugly for trying on a particularly fancy bra in a dressing room where if I did the same in a shopping centre I would feel unbelievably self-conscious. There's a strange non-judgmental sense of keeping things "just between us girls". It really does feel like a secret everyone is in on, a neutral space. SO WEIRD. And yet I have a strong memory from a couple of years ago of getting a lift from a girl who was fighting for the affections of the same guy as I was (ugh, big regrets) and she pointedly turned the guy's attention to the backseat, where sat that Victoria's Secret bag. I felt so inferior, she had the upper hand, she bought the lingerie or whatever was in the bag. She basically bought sex in a bag, or her ticket to it. I couldn't compete (I didn't really want to, but I felt like I should. The sense of NEED to go and buy sexy underwear to win over a guy just coursed through me when I saw that -- luckily at the end of the day, she "won", which I am retrospectively happy about as it turns out that he is an absolute prick). Victoria's Secret subjects us to it, but also gives us some strange power to subject other people. It's all rather messy, really.

- R

Anonymous said...

Don't waste your time at VS because anyone with half a brain would tear it off of you en route to terrible things in a heartbeat anyways.
-A male with an unrequited thing for HGH.

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Samantha Nyx said...

This post hits home for me. I second the commenter who said that Hollister was the worst kind of torture for them; when I was younger, I felt as if I NEEDED to squeeze my body into Hollister and Abercrombie clothes which, though they cost more than all my other clothes, were horrible quality and tore easily. Everyone else did it, so I had to, too, right? Wrong. It was awful in many ways: I looked awful, felt awful, and broke my wallet. I'm glad to say that I've broken out of the Hollister fad, but VS still has a pull over me, too.

Alexis said...

I don't get any benefit from having things like that; I really don't want to have something if it doesn't have a practical purpose in my life. That's why I struggle with fashion I lot - I love clothes and accessories and shoes, but I can't allow myself to get things that aren't necessary. It's just a part of the way I work. I guess I'm kind of a minimalist when it comes to material things.

Rosianna said...

Whoops, Google said it had an error posting all of my comments so I reposted them... then saw that Google told a big porky. So my comment = infinitecauseways. Anyway.

JJ said...

I'm generally okay with reminding myself that pretty much the only distinction between having a brand-something versus having a non-brand-something is how much more expensive the brand-something is. And as I am mostly broke I'm pretty good with not being sucked into that kind of stuff. Thankfully I'm still of the mentality that paying $100 for jeans is actually crazy.

I do get sucked in by celebrity marketing though. I often catch myself out thinking "Ooh, I must have that! So-and-so has that! And I like so-and-so!". Say if I go to buy a tennis racket, I'd be the sort of person to buy the racket with Federer's face on it, even though it's really not that different from the racket that doesn't have anyone's face on it. Thankfully for my wallet, I don't buy tennis rackets that often.

Katie said...

No, your definitely not. I read Time before I check Facebook. I have a bookmark called "Cool Nerdy Articles."
It's taken numerous experiences and a lot of time for me to pulled away from the shiny tethers of capitalist materialism. Now, I can't even visit the mall without feeling rather disgusted and a little bit sick.
I've never been drawn to Victoria's Secret, I'm really afraid of any form of retail shopping. I know it's all a ploy and I know the clothes were made in bad conditions in a sweatshop halfway around the world. That's what really keeps me away. Instead, I find comfort in thrift stores.
Now, I'm comfortable averting even our rigid codes of hegemonic sexuality. I don't shave my legs and I've even stopped shaving my armpits. But I'm still society's slave...when spring and warm weather come I'll more than likely shave it all away. Although, I am tired of being a naked mole rat...

Elise said...

You know that vlogbrother's video called "I am not a pornographer"? It is J.Green talking about Looking for Alaska being banned a couple years ago. In it he says that the sex scene is completely mechanical, awkward, and not sultry. He wanted to compare that very physical intimacy but connectionless experience w/ the scene after it when there is no physical intimacy but a genuine and satisfying emotional intimacy.

When I think about the times in my life when I feel sexy, it has very little to do with what I'm wearing or how many pimples I have that day. The physical never has lasting meaning without the emotional. I can feel sexy in a pair of hanes and hairy legs as long as I feel confident in myself.

Victoria's Secret gives me the same panicky, lost feeling that Walmart does. I feel like I am always in the way and never find what I'm looking for.

Loved the post! thanks

Amanda M. (shessomickey) said...

It's always been a challenge for me to reconcile these two versions of myself -- the one who is feminist, strong, pro-body acceptance, & opposed to the media's standards of beauty, and the one who likes feeling beautiful and dressing up, who sometimes falls prey to food guilting or other destructive thoughts. There is pressure on young women to look sexy but effortless all the time, to both embrace and make flawless our bodies. To totally reject "media" and "society" is impossible, so I think the answer is to repurpose it.

Companies try to sell us products that promise to make us look and feel and be sexier according to the male gaze -- to make women more attractive to the men they should absolutely want to want them. The difference between a woman who buys what ads tell her to buy and feels bad about it, and a woman who might buy the same clothes/lingerie/perfume and feels great about it, is that the latter is dressing up for herself.

I don't feel bad about buying nice things for myself when I can afford them -- I have a job, I'm putting myself through college, and I'm a budgeting queen. I can't afford the Victoria's Secret brand, sure, so my "nice" lingerie comes from clearance bins at Target and Avenue. I don't feel guilty about wearing bras that are lacy and similar to the ones in shop windows because they make ME feel spectacular. Surrounding oneself with beautiful things is a luxury that we do not have to apologize for; the private thrill of wearing a gorgeous bra or whatever is mine and mine alone. Nobody makes me, nobody has to see it, and nobody judges me because of it. It's one thing to spend money you don't have on name-brand clothing in order to appear popular or well-to-do, but at least for me, treating myself in this most personal way is an act of empowerment. I'm dressing for myself.

Is this an excuse? I don't know. I don't yearn to be the models I see dancing around in lingerie and diamonds, at least not consciously, and wearing lace when cotton would be more practical is not an act to make myself more attractive. If anything, dressing well (not just under my clothes, but including normal clothing) makes me feel more confident, which is so much more attractive than anything one could buy. I'm almost six feet tall and I sometimes wear high heels -- not because I want to be taller (men complain that I'm too tall to begin with), not because I want my legs to look better (I think they're fabulous, but they are sturdy, not slender), not because I think they make men want me more. I feel fancy and giddy and /pretty/ when I wear them, so I do. And my confidence and smile have gotten me way more attention than my favorite pumps.

This is turning into quite a comment. I suppose my tl;dr point would be that one must reconcile one's femininity with one's feminist-ity, if you would excuse my hyphenation. If we feel guilty about buying nice things, it's another victory for the men in suits in offices who want to sell us ways to assuage our guilt to begin with. You, and I, and all of us must only answer to ourselves. We don't owe anyone explanations for how we present ourselves to the world, including how we dress.

Huzzah!

Amanda McLoughlin said...

It's always been a challenge for me to reconcile these two versions of myself -- the one who is feminist, strong, pro-body acceptance, & opposed to the media's standards of beauty, and the one who likes feeling beautiful and dressing up, who sometimes falls prey to food guilting or other destructive thoughts. There is pressure on young women to look sexy but effortless all the time, to both embrace and make flawless our bodies. To totally reject "media" and "society" is impossible, so I think the answer is to repurpose it.

Companies try to sell us products that promise to make us look and feel and be sexier according to the male gaze -- to make women more attractive to the men they should absolutely want to want them. The difference between a woman who buys what ads tell her to buy and feels bad about it, and a woman who might buy the same clothes/lingerie/perfume and feels great about it, is that the latter is dressing up for herself.

I don't feel bad about buying nice things for myself when I can afford them -- I have a job, I'm putting myself through college, and I'm a budgeting queen. I can't afford the Victoria's Secret brand, sure, so my "nice" lingerie comes from clearance bins at Target and Avenue. I don't feel guilty about wearing bras that are lacy and similar to the ones in shop windows because they make ME feel spectacular. Surrounding oneself with beautiful things is a luxury that we do not have to apologize for; the private thrill of wearing a gorgeous bra or whatever is mine and mine alone. Nobody makes me, nobody has to see it, and nobody judges me because of it. It's one thing to spend money you don't have on name-brand clothing in order to appear popular or well-to-do, but at least for me, treating myself in this most personal way is an act of empowerment. I'm dressing for myself.

Is this an excuse? I don't know. I don't yearn to be the models I see dancing around in lingerie and diamonds, at least not consciously, and wearing lace when cotton would be more practical is not an act to make myself more attractive. If anything, dressing well (not just under my clothes, but including normal clothing) makes me feel more confident, which is so much more attractive than anything one could buy. I'm almost six feet tall and I sometimes wear high heels -- not because I want to be taller (men complain that I'm too tall to begin with), not because I want my legs to look better (I think they're fabulous, but they are sturdy, not slender), not because I think they make men want me more. I feel fancy and giddy and /pretty/ when I wear them, so I do. And my confidence and smile have gotten me way more attention than my favorite pumps.

This is turning into quite a comment. I suppose my tl;dr point would be that one must reconcile one's femininity with one's feminist-ity, if you would excuse my hyphenation. If we feel guilty about buying nice things, it's another victory for the men in suits in offices who want to sell us ways to assuage our guilt to begin with. You, and I, and all of us must only answer to ourselves. We don't owe anyone explanations for how we present ourselves to the world, including how we dress.

Huzzah!

Amanda M. (shessomickey) said...

(1/2)

It's always been a challenge for me to reconcile these two versions of myself -- the one who is feminist, strong, pro-body acceptance, & opposed to the media's standards of beauty, and the one who likes feeling beautiful and dressing up, who sometimes falls prey to food guilting or other destructive thoughts. There is pressure on young women to look sexy but effortless all the time, to both embrace and make flawless our bodies. To totally reject "media" and "society" is impossible, so I think the answer is to repurpose it.

Companies try to sell us products that promise to make us look and feel and be sexier according to the male gaze -- to make women more attractive to the men they should absolutely want to want them. The difference between a woman who buys what ads tell her to buy and feels bad about it, and a woman who might buy the same clothes/lingerie/perfume and feels great about it, is that the latter is dressing up for herself.

I don't feel bad about buying nice things for myself when I can afford them -- I have a job, I'm putting myself through college, and I'm a budgeting queen. I can't afford the Victoria's Secret brand, sure, so my "nice" lingerie comes from clearance bins at Target and Avenue. I don't feel guilty about wearing bras that are lacy and similar to the ones in shop windows because they make ME feel spectacular. Surrounding oneself with beautiful things is a luxury that we do not have to apologize for; the private thrill of wearing a gorgeous bra or whatever is mine and mine alone. Nobody makes me, nobody has to see it, and nobody judges me because of it. It's one thing to spend money you don't have on name-brand clothing in order to appear popular or well-to-do, but at least for me, treating myself in this most personal way is an act of empowerment. I'm dressing for myself.

Amanda M. (shessomickey) said...

(2/2)

Is this an excuse? I don't know. I don't yearn to be the models I see dancing around in lingerie and diamonds, at least not consciously, and wearing lace when cotton would be more practical is not an act to make myself more attractive. If anything, dressing well (not just under my clothes, but including normal clothing) makes me feel more confident, which is so much more attractive than anything one could buy. I'm almost six feet tall and I sometimes wear high heels -- not because I want to be taller (men complain that I'm too tall to begin with), not because I want my legs to look better (I think they're fabulous, but they are sturdy, not slender), not because I think they make men want me more. I feel fancy and giddy and /pretty/ when I wear them, so I do. And my confidence and smile have gotten me way more attention than my favorite pumps.

This is turning into quite a comment. I suppose my tl;dr point would be that one must reconcile one's femininity with one's feminist-ity, if you would excuse my hyphenation. If we feel guilty about buying nice things, it's another victory for the men in suits in offices who want to sell us ways to assuage our guilt to begin with. You, and I, and all of us must only answer to ourselves. We don't owe anyone explanations for how we present ourselves to the world, including how we dress.

Huzzah!

Abby L said...

Sometimes, I think it's okay to indulge. I wear designer jeans - partially because they're the only ones that fit, and partially because it's my guilty pleasure. Sometimes, it's not about self esteem - it's about having one thing that is special.
That's my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I can testify to the fact that smart girls do indeed fall prey to these things, since I have a class rank of 4 at the moment.
I'm young enough that I need my mom to drive me places (although I'm getting my permit tomorrow, DMV willing), so VS isn't even an option for me at the moment.
Here's a dilemma I often go through, though: Wear the tighter-fitting non-T-shirt, or the T-shirt with the clever slogan? Do I favor my body, or my personality? Wearing the former makes me feel more feminine, but the latter makes me feel more attractive, although that seems counter-intuitive. So I try to balance it out.
When it comes to buying stuff I don't need...
My parents still buy most of my stuff, so I feel like I have spending money. I just remind myself that in slightly over two years, I'll be in college, and then I'll need to support myself so I need to practice good spending habits now, and that the money I don't use now will come in handy later. Plus, my dad and I like similar books so I can usually mooch cash off of him as long as he wants to read whatever it is as well. :)
As for underwear...I've been single for all of my life, and I'm done with gym class, yet wearing nicer underwear still makes me feel good. I don't know why.

GillianisAslan said...

I buy all of my underwear from Victoria's Secret because they last longer than the ones from Target. I don't think that's such a bad reason to shop there.

Jenny said...

I feel the same way! Something about seeing the abnormally long torsos of the models and smelling the overpoweringly sweet scents that pour into the hallways of the mall brings about the ideology of "hmm! I could look/smell like that too!"

I guess wanting what you can't quite fully obtain is enough to draw you into the mind-warping culture of Victoria's Secret.

What a strange world we live in...what a strange humanity we are.

Catherine said...

There's an ad for Victoria's Secret at the bottom of this page! Ha! I think that situations like this are a result of good advertising and marketing. All girls want to feel beautiful and confident (no matter their intelligence level) and the models which model VS seem beautiful and confident so something in our brains makes us go 'VS will make me beautiful and confident' even though we know it's really only our own opinion of ourself that can make us so.

At the same time if buying expensive underwear from time to time makes you feel good then there's no reason you shouldn't. The problem only comes when we start having unrealistic expectations of what material things can do for us.

EJ said...

I can't say I've been sucked into the marketing of Victoria's Secret, but I do admit that I can go nowhere near the Old Navy website without feeling like I need to buy a new sweater. I'm just wicked into sweaters man. They're awesome.
Also, skinny jeans. Those are actually a new thing for me. See, they solve the problem I've always had of stepping on my pants cuffs and ending up with fraying. It's apparently an easily solved issue, Old Navy just needed to sell me a pair of skinny jeans and now I'm good to go.

Seriously though I don't know how those tricksters make us feel like buying a product will make us into something else, or even make us feel like we should be something else. It's a fine line between expressing yourself through your dress choices and buying something because it's sold to you.

Veronica said...

Buy the sexy.]
I like this line. :)

Other than that, I don't really fall for marketing. I bring money for what I want, maybe plus some. When I see something I like, I think about how much money I have and if I want to spend it on something else. If both of the above are forgiving, I'll buy it. If they're not, I won't. Simple.

thebrookereview said...

I haven't had the Victoria's Secret temptation but just today I had the temptation with Hollister and it always results the same way. I go in and then leave feeling horrible about myself. Why? Typically, when I'm trying on clothes at other stores I'm a small/medium when I go into Hollister I don't feel like anything fits right on me. I mean, seriously, I want a decent length top to cover my midriff. Why does that mean I have to buy a large? By the time I leave the store (empty-handed I might add) I feel like Shamu. Arggh. Some things with society/media/etc can just set me off but glad to know that others are facing the same temptations with me.

hollyl said...

I often find that when you're in a store and see something you like, it grips you and you feel like you can't possibly leave the store without this item. But if I can resist buying it, after walking out of the store, I later feel completely freed, and not bothered that I don't have the item in my life.
But that feeling in the shop really is like a trap! You feel like you MUST have this item, because if you don't, someone else will and it will make their life awesome. I think it's some sort of innate hunter-gatherer instinct, to want to OWN things. As if the qualities attached to the item will then be ours. In much the same way as we list our favourite things on facebook etc. Because we think things indicate what kind of people we are.

Simone said...

Yeah, you're right. Victoria's Secret is overpriced, but so are Macbooks. People have an amazing tendency to buy things for outrageous prices just because they're pretty. Honestly though, I don't see any reason to take a huge issue with it. If a company is good at marketing their product, good for them, and if you get some little bit of joy out of buying something 'pretty' from them, then good for you. Unless you're wasting craploads of money, there's no harm in a little fancy underwear sometimes. That's what I think, anyway.

Danielle said...

Whenever I go into a store like Victoria's Secret I do the same thing. I find so many expensive things I feel like I NEED. But then I remind myself of all the things I can have instead. For instance:

1 Victoria's Secret Bra= A whole season of Firefly
or
1 Victoria's Secret Pajama Set= 3 books and a movie
or
1 Victoria's Secret bathing Suit Set= a new video editing software

If I think of these types of equations in my head before I make a decision to buy something expensive, I think of my alternatives. As you can see, sometimes I notice I can get more things for the price of the 1 item , or get something more useful that I can use every day. Or I can get something more fun and entertaining and possibly share with my friends.

I hope this makes sense and helps you out a bit. It's really been helpful with managing my money.

ally_schnier said...

The further and further I read, the more it seemed exactly like my last trip to the mall when I got sucked into that store. The uncontrollable urge to walk in and touch the pretty fabrics, the rush you get imagining how much more people will admire you when you are the owner of such delicacies and the mindless acceptance of ridiculously overpriced underwear.

I consider myself to be a smart "college girl"-much like yourself. But I find I can't escape it. The best solution I've come up with is to hug the wall opposite the store when I walk past. If you find a better answer, pass it along this way.

Caitlin said...

This is interesting cause I totally spent a chunk of change at VS the other day. I own only "PINK" underwear. But I buy it because it's comfotable, it fits me well, and they're (The ones I own anyway) cute. Plus it's good quality, and the 5 for $25 hooks me.
I have a problem with branded things being popular for popular sake. That being said, I will give into something that's popular if I will gain more than popularity from it. Yeah, VS does a good job of making women feel like they NEED this stuff to be sexy. They just have some damn good Ad and Marketing people.
Those people get you in the store and yeah maybe they'll get you to buy. But only their product will get you to buy again. especially if it's expensive to begin with.
Those are my thoughts...if they are coherent. I need sleep.

Abbie said...

Victoria's Secret always, ALWAYS sucks me in, too. I don't know what it is about it. I find their commercials and their advertising techniques totally degrading to women - I mean, obviously the sex aspect of it all isn't aimed precisely at US, is it? But I always want to buy everything I see there. I don't know what it is. I think there must be some kind of hypnotizing, entrancing, subliminal-message type thing being pumped through their speakers and commercials.

Also, I laughed really hard when I read that you were a "smart girl who doesn't usually get sucked in by the latest trends" because the ad on the side of the screen was for a pair of crocs that ALSO TONE YOUR LEGS! It cracked me up. They found a way to combine two of the ugliest shoe fads into ONE NEAT LITTLE PACKAGE! Fantabulous. :)

Anyway, great blog post. As always, it cracked me up.

beangirl1389 said...

I can't say I'm any better. I was returning some of my own things and I had to get my cousin a gift card from there. I willingly walked in, and did the same thing. I get this smile on my face as I hear the music and I'm sucked in. Luckily I wasn't alone otherwise I would have stayed in line and bought some REALLY cute things.

Kristy said...

Honestly, I don't own anything from Victoria's Secret. And truthfully, it's mostly because there isn't one in my city.

Luckily, my boyfriend is great in a weird way. He hates lipgloss and makeup just as much as I do, so I don't care that I don't wear any like many girls that I see. It takes too much time and effort...and lipgloss is really sticky.(I wear mascara...but that's because my eyelashes are virtually invisible without it. It's my one superficial; thing, okay?)

I do like getting nice underwear though, for what I can afford. I only get the stuff that is comfortable, though, and it does make me feel confident. Because yeah, I wear size 13 jeans and I'm pretty curvy. Whatever works for you.

This may not have made sense, but oh well. It was kind of just mind vomit.

Anonymous said...

ive done that too. Sex sells. You would think that its just guys that look at all of these girls posed like they're about to strip for the camera, but we look at it kind of like that too, but more from a "wow, i want to look like her" point of view.

I dont think there's anything wrong with buying a $70 bra like once a year that you feel sexy and confident in. Its like that one outfit you have that adds that extra pep in your step or makes you hold your head a little higher. you feel more confident in it.

The only thing that really bothers me that much about victorias secret is the fact that its completely fake and touched up. It leaves us constantly bashing our own bodies and wanting to be like the girls on the wall.

I dont even know if any of that followed this whole thing... whatever!

On This Side of the Blue said...

I definitely know what you're talking about Hayley. I love books, I got straight A's through High School (with honors classes) and, compared to my friends, I'm a bit of a prude. I am also not overly girly. However, beauty tutorials are my weakness. I love youtube for the general nerdfighter community, I come for that. But sometimes I see a "how to nightime eye" video, and I can't help myself! I know that I am never going to try out this eye shadow deal because, lets face it, I have nooooo idea how to do things with makeup. 99% of the time, I wear no makeup whatsoever. I just can't resist the ultra-fem atmosphere! What kills me is that I know that I would never be friends with these girls in real life. And while I usually find the makeup talk fun/interesting, sometimes it makes me worry far too much about my splotchy complexion or the fact that I am too intimidated to even enter the MAC store. I don't know where to draw the line there, but it's good to know that I'm not the only lost in girl world.

Fana said...

Hayley, just wanted to say a friend just showed me your blog the other day and I love it! You're an excellent writer.

In response to this topic, one way I feel justified in buying a pretty bra for myself is that it makes me feel good and gives me an extra boost of confidence, knowing that I'm wearing something pretty even if nobody but me (and my boyfriend) is ever going to see it.

allysonkate said...

Oh VS. You sly company, you.

Here's the thing. Their bras are honestly made well, so I don't feel bad about purchasing a bra or two there (ESPECIALLY during their semi-annual sale), because they hold up longer in more ways than one. (ha see what i did there?) They fit better, too! So for me, when I put on a new VS bra, I just feel like I'm going to have a better day.

To a guy, that last sentence would sound absolutely ridiculous.

PLUS, victoria secret underwear lasts SO long. (Well, I don't have experience with the sheer, frilly g-strings... I won't claim to know anything about the longevity of those.)

Therefore, I feel like it's just an all around fine situation, because it's not like they're getting you to buy into crap and laugh as you walk out of the pink chamber, ya know?

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. First off, I love reading your writing and thoughts. I often check back for updates and when I find that you have indeed updated, it makes me smile.

Having said that, this entry made me feel almost alienated. That's too strong a word, but I'm not sure which other word would best describe this. I felt almost as if you were implying that only less than smart girls are shopping in overpriced lingerie stores? I realize that was not your intent, and you would not wish to make someone feel 'dumb' (again, not a good word for this), but I honestly felt a little annoyed after reading this.

I don't have a VS where I live, but I do have La Senza which is similar. Honestly, I have never felt that the advertising in the windows, aka big boobed, perfectly tanned, grinning models, has made me feel less than what I should be. I see a model in the window and I think, "Gee that chick is kinda psycho looking". I go in not because of the advertising but because I want to purchase a clothing item that is going to make me feel good. I recently got married but before that, nobody was going to be seeing my underwear, so if I wanted to buy something with a bit of shazaam, it was just for me. And I have never walked out of one of those stores, pretty bag in hand, feeling like I've gone against my belief that being sexy isn't important and something to always strive for.

I consider myself intelligent, but I do not consider myself to be lowering my IQ points by going into a frilly underwear shop.

Wow. That was a rant, and I do apologize for my long windedness. I really look forward to your next post, as always, and I hope you had a very Merry Christmas.

Feathers said...

Awesome post Hayley, I wrote a post back in June about how much impact malls and stores such as those can have, even on a relatively intelligent and confident female mind. It wasn't funny like yours though. *how* do you manage to make everything so funny? :D

meeshka9 said...

Instead of purchasing overpriced lingerie, I buy reasonably priced athletic gear. Sports bras and yoga pants, racerback tops. They are damned sexy, encourage strength, and actually serve a functional purpose. Also, I've never been very good at matching frilly tops and bottom. How do girls make that happen every day?

Maggie said...

I got a Grooveshark account a while back, and the ads were all for Victoria's Secret. I almost deleted it because their stupid, scantily-clad models made me feel so uncomfortable.

That is to say, No, I am not drawn in by their advertisements. I don't know why, but rather than feel compelled, I am disgusted. I can't stand being in that store. I am offended by their attempt to make me pay excessive amounts of money for things that I don't want, need, or use.

But that is just me. I am already a minimalist when it comes to many things feminine. That is not to say that I don't like being feminine sometimes-- I just don't wear lacey lengerie or perfumes that make me gag.

Maddy said...

Do you have any idea how good your writing is, Hayley? I am constantly being blown away by how eloquently you put your thoughts into words. I hope one day my mastery of the English language will be half as good as yours.

In my 11th grade honors English class we had a media unit wherein we discussed various advertising techniques. One such technique causes consumers to envision a future version of themselves that possesses a certain product--be it Victoria's Secret underwear, or what have you--, a version of themselves that embodies all the qualities they so sorely wish they had. The idea behind this advertising scheme is that the consumer will grow envious of this "future self", feeling convinced that they will only attain true happiness when they own the coveted project. It's a vicious cycle; no matter how many items one buys, he or she will never be able to live up to his or her "future self".

I'd tell you that happiness comes from within and no amount of Victoria's secret lingerie is going to make you feel more fulfilled, but you already know that. The allure of Victoria's Secret catches even the best of us off guard. Wouldn't we all love to be as beautiful and appealing as the women in those photographs? I think Victoria's Secret products, as with an item of clothing, can enhance the sense of femininity and empowerment that comes from within, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's just important to remember that frilly nightgowns shouldn't be the sole factor in making oneself feel beautiful; that, of course, should come from your inner confidence.

Anonymous said...

I love you Hayley :)
Growing up, I never had much money, so I've developed a tactic to help me break away from these pricey but oh so beautiful things. I imagine myself with it at home, asking, "What the heck did I just do...?"
If my future self can't come up with a good response, I'm not buying. And me being me, I can't help but think of all the things I can do with that $50. I guess I'm just a very thrifty person.

... and as shallow as this sounds, imagining that only shallow and stuck-up popular girls use these products help me let go of them.

Anonymous said...

ohmygod. im the exact same way with this store. how the hell do they do it?

Jasmine said...

I think every woman/girl/teen has felt this feeling AT LEAST once in their lifetime and they will probably feel it again.I think the media has big control over this and I am really happy bigger companies like Dove are trying to stop low self-esteem problems.

jenibo said...

I know. And I think a lot of the problem comes from feeling inadequate around other regular girls who don't mind being wrapped up in Victoria and all the things she stands for. If there were more hayleyghoovers in this world, I might be more inclined to like myself the way you know and proclaim to be right. But there are only a few, and they often feel so distant until I turn on my computer at night, defeated, because earlier that day while I was walking around the mall, I was weak and insecure and really believed I could be more desirable if I owned a pink and black, tiger-striped bra.

So, what am I supposed to do with that? How, Hayley, do you suggest a greater part of our world change to accept themselves and others the way they should?

Paroma Zaman said...

I think you just have to see the ridiculousness of it all. My mom absolutely loves Victoria's Secret and she has for a long time. Every time I go in there, I just remember her browsing for minutes upon endless minutes and buying strange lacy underthings. So. Whenever I wander into VS, I feel like I just time travel back to that time when I could see the flashiness and absurdity of all the glitz and sparkle and women with their mouths half open (who, honestly, look like they're half-asleep drooling.) I just don't find any of that to be "sexy." I understand that a lot of women do think that what VS sells is truly sexy, to which I say, go for it! But are they seeing it through their own eyes, or the eyes of men?

lilly-wa said...

I too am a victim of marketing schemes. Although I am not a Victim of Victoria specifically.
Victoria's Secret has never made sense to me. I always see these Victoria's Secret commercials and whenever I'm with men they all immediately look up(why wouldn't they, with half nude models parading around on screen?). So, I always assume their marketing is towards men. Like they might buy it for their girlfriends? (funnily enough most guys are uncomfortable going into the store)
But then the unbelievable happens. Women like Victoria's Secret just as much as the guys do! They want to be that girl! But..how...? Why...? Girls, where have your senses gone?


I guess it could be a confidence boost but still.
It just doesn't make sense to me when it won't be shown off to other people.
Other marketing schemes about being sexy get me sometimes. So, maybe it's an individual type of dealio.

Shelby said...

I completely understand what you mean. Its not about fitting in, its about feeling feminine and pretty. Yes I know some perfume and a pretty bra does not determine how you should feel about yourself but It definately helps. I dont think it makes you anymore of an uneducated person to want to smell nice or have pretty panties. I love going to bed wearing pretty pajamas instead of an oversized t-shirt (which is usually my sleep attire) It makes ME feel confident even though I am the only one in in the room. Thats my take on the subject.

anamariarose said...

I totally understand what you're writing about. I, probably like every other girl on this planet, went through a phase where I thought name brand items would make me cooler. That people would see the labels on my clothes and assume I must be amazing. I then came to the conclusion that I would rather express myself through clothes instead of being a walking billboard for companies. I think it's much more satisfying to receive a compliment on a shirt you bought at some small consignment shop than to get a compliment on your new Abercrombie shirt. It's much more fulfilling. I think this applies as well to victorias secret. Their bras and panties all laid out in display can be enticing. But I think girls need to get to the place where they are comfortable enough in who they are that they don't need to hide behind a label. Where they are happy enough in themselves to know that they have a presence without the lacey underwear and vanilla scented body spray.

I hope you didn’t mind my last sentence. I thought it tied in well but I’m not trying to mimic you at all. I really enjoy reading your blogs I also love watching your youtube videos. The world needs more people like you, people who are just happy with themselves. You are an inspiration to all the self-conscious girls out there, which sometimes includes me. Thank you for being you. Thank you for all the time you put in to make a difference in us girls.

You probably won’t ever read this, but if you do, it would be incredible for you to read my blog. I’m kind of shy about it but it would be really awesome if you just took the time to read one post. And maybe comment. It unfortunately isn’t on blogspot, but wordpress. Anything would be appreciated. Thank again! (:

http://anamariarose.wordpress.com/

A.P. said...

I am a shopaholic, so any store is temptation to me (I haven't been shopping by myself in 5 years, last time I did I bought 3 white shirts-I dislike wearing white shirts) But VS is a major lure in store-the smell, the sexified look, the glitter. And even if someone knows they aren't showing anyone, it does help (even the tiniest bit) to know you got "hot material" stuff underneath.
But I actually found a way to get my self around buying in Victoria's Secret. That I don't need that to feel sexy, I can get good smelling stuff at Macy's or some where else for cheaper prices,though same quality and that way I can buy an extra of the smelly good stuff with out paying for more like I would if I wanted more than just one at VS. And the undergarments there. Well, a good bra is important, but you only need one or two (make sure its a multi clip purpose one-where you can remove the straps and what not)underwear is underwear, any kind of panties you can buy anywhere. And those girls on the posters are just other girls, if one is trying to be appealing to someone,then be appealing in your own way, it's better to be pretty in your own way then look like you just walked out of an ad.So that is my shopaholic view.

infinitecauseways said...

You have the best commenters in the world. I check this post's comment page every day and it's just wonderful to read it. I just wanted to speak quickly to a comment from December 28, 2010 3:30 PM - Anon. La Senza, in the UK at least, is very very different from VS. Yes, they give you nice bags with your underwear and they have models on the wall but it's not the same kind of project. Far fewer bodies and the bodies are bodies that little bit more for women than for men. In the La Senza's I've been in, there's not that same degree of excessive flattery, it's just normal people doing their job. There's not many perfumes or creams. When you go into VS, you're shopping for a whole experience. When you go into La Senza... well, you're just buying sexy underwear. They don't have the same advertising campaign, they don't have the same pull to their models and La Senza doesn't leave me feeling like crap (or as much as VS) when I walk around and pretty thin girls clinging on to boys have La Senza bags. So I don't know that La Senza and VS are comparable, really.

ProjectProjection said...

Haha, Hayley, you are hilarious. And honestly? We all fall into marketting traps. Or, at least I like to think of it as everyone, because I do it on a regular basis. My biggest weaknessis music. I used to have a thing for magazines. I think it was that they always called me names like "chica" and "girlie" and whatever, and I was like "Ooh, they like me!". I'm not friendless, or anything.. I just liked having someone to call me names! Is that so wrong?

Tiffany said...

Yeah, I don't think you should be feeling this immense amount of guilt for buying from Victoria's Secret... unless you feel guilty buying clothes from commercial retailers in general. I think it's only a problem when you feel the absolute need to buy Victoria's Secret products to feel sexy or empowered. Other than that, it's perfectly fine to buy products from them... Personally, I think their Beauty Rush lipgloss is too sticky and thick and most of their stuff is a bit overpriced, but their sweatshirts and sweatpants are soft and comfortable (I just don't like the word PINK all over my ass) , their underwear is decent quality and pretty, and, yes, the pictures of women slathered on the store front are pretty damn sexy... HAHA. If you aren't buying their products for the pure reason that they are from Victoria's Secret, you are good to go. I really hope you're exaggerating a bit about your change in mentality when you walk into this store. Victoria's Secret is just another store... like a Macy's lingerie section combined with Bath and Body Works...

Hayley, you are absolutely gorgeous both personality-wise and physically and I doubt your skin is lumpy. You are sexy!

Katie - TrickstersBrain said...

I live in England where (as far as I am aware)we don't have Victoria's Secret. However with stores like La Senza over here we have the same sort of phenomenon,some of my friends feel much like you and literally cannot go past with out going in.

On the other hand I always feel very inferior next to their enormous photos of the models and so scuttle past staring at the floor.

Either way the hold these places have on us is a little disconcerting.

Molly! said...

In my opinion, the problem doesn't lie with the desire to be sexy or purchase products to augment sexiness, but rather with the inspiration of the desire. Do you want to be sexy and buy sexy-making products because YOU want them? Or do you want them because you're blinded by the influence of the sparkly, perky Pink light telling you that's what you want? If it's the former, I say go ahead and splurge. If it's the latter, I say steer clear. It's an issue of where the measure of your self-worth lies - within yourself, or in the hands of the external world.

Emily said...

On an unrelated note, I'm visiting my boyfriend in northern Ohio for New Years. While driving we passed many billboards for Grandpa's Cheesebarn, but he wouldn't let us stop. I was displeased.

J.K. said...

Honestly I think that the entire store sends a message that tells me that I'm inadequate. "Your boobs are too small" "Men will only want you if you look like this" "You can only wear sweat-pants that have our label on them because that somehow makes them better" "You aren't worth any effort of a man unless you buy our products and let them define you". They tell me that I'm not really a woman. That I'm only a woman unless I'm "sexy" or a "vixen". This is what many brands have been shoving down my throat for years. It's taken me 16 years to see past it, but it's a lie. None of these things will make you happier. Well, not a fulfilling happiness. A superficial happiness that fades away a few hours later when you realize that you've just spent $60 on a bra that you'll only wear once with that strapless dress and no one will see, anyway. I think that "Designer sexiness" is a trap. It's a trap that I've been pulled into and it's made me agonize over the shallowest things when I could be helping the man on the corner who has no food. It's a distraction that turns an intelligent, independant woman into a shallow, ridiculous person. At least, that's what it did to me. However, I'm overcoming the image that those companies are forcing on me. And I'm stronger because of it.

Sorry if this got a little off-topic and rant-y. It's nice to let my thoughts out. :p

Sarah said...

I'm a sucker for Ulta. Everything is so clean and perfect and all the workers wear pretty black sweaters with perfect makeup and I feel like I need a 20 dollar eyeliner to complete my look. I mean, I ACTUALLY own a twenty dollar eyeliner in a color that I don't even like.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could have someone like you in my life. Someone like you to tell my not to listen to the other girls at my school who tell me that I'm fat. :'/

thewrackspurt said...

Quite frankly, I didn't feel very sexy if I didn't have a lot of makeup on and my VS bra's and panties until this last summer. I ended up having to live out my car and now have been unemployeed for 6 months.
Because of the fact that I can't afford to buy anything, not even food, I've started to realize that the best way for me to make it through a day is to find a way to feel sexy regardless of how long it's been since I had on my VS bra. I'm not sure how it happened, or why, but somehow I feel sexy without all the labels for the first time in my life ^.^

Stacie said...

Yes, I sometimes find myself sucked in...
I'm always wishing that I could have all the new "sexy" fashionable clothes.
But then again, I am more "fashion-inspired" by people like Zooey Deschanel, so I can usually find cute stuff at thrift stores, though as What's-Her-Face from Teen Girl Squad once said, "Those clothes smell like grandmas".
(But sometimes I see people like Emma Watson and all I want to do is run to the mall and buy every expensive article of clothing I can find). :P

Holly said...

So, completely unrelated to this blog post but I started watching your videos a while back and only tonight started reading your blog. Just thought i'd inform you that over here in England (let's face it, the best place in the world AND the birth place of Harry Potter and JK Rowling*) it's currently 4.48am and I have been reading your blog for the past THREE HOURS. Now if that's not a good ego-stroking I don't know what is. You represent all the awesomeness that is vlogging and our generation.

So yeah, just thought i'd whack that out there. On a sidenote, Calling Cassie Crazy (I think it's called something different over there) is also in my top books of all time. Oh yeah, and I'm exactly ONE MONTH younger than you. And in England. So hai!

*I have to ask this. Why do you guys in the US always refer to her as 'Jo' Rowling? I mean I know it's her first name but it just seems funny that over here we prefer the formal initials 'JK' and in America you just go straight in there with the 'Jo'. I think it says a lot about our cultures. Also I like to imagine that you ever met her you'd just roll up and be like 'Yo, Jo-Ro!'

P.S KEEP MAKING VIDEOS AND OTHER SUCH THINGS YES? Kthnxbai.

P.P.S Sorry for the excessive use of capitalisation.

Emily said...

Hi, Hayley!
I just had to tell you that it's so cute how much you love food, and the fact that you don't try to hide it is awesome. I used to be so self conscious about how much I love eating delicious things, but then once I saw you (who I respect very much, and agree with you on most things) flaunting your love of food (especially in your Thanksgiving video) it gave me a lot of self confidence.
You've inspired me a lot to just be who I am, and love myself. It's a lot easier to live a happy life if you're not constantly complaining about yourself!!

Elsa said...

Designer can suck my balls! Or tits, rather... I think I deserve the respect that a pair of gross balls get... she said awkwardly.

Sam said...

I wear mismatched socks almost everyday (usually different types of stripes lol)... and I also only have three pairs of jeans. :)

Nicole said...

I think the best defense is not to take any of it too seriously. Owning or wanting to own pretty things doesn't make you a bad person. It doesn't make you a good person either, but neither does NOT owning pretty things. Sometimes it's ok to take a superficial interest in things, if that makes any sense at all.

Lindsey said...

Finally, someone else who thinks that men must find lip gloss to be a little gross.

I avoid Victoria's Secret at all costs. It just doesn't appeal to me. I hate the thought of passing through through the two barely clothed gargoyles that guard the entrance. Victoria's Secret makes me feel judged. "Look at that girl in the jeans and t-shirt, she doesn't belong here." I don't even go there for bras anymore because they fall apart so quickly. Wacoal FTW.

When it comes to spending money, it's geeky t-shirts and nerdy toys that pry my wallet open. And shoes. Vans that have SPACE on them, and they're ON SALE! *grabby hands*

Ms. Light said...

My issue isn't with the sexiness, because that is a truly natural and wonderful thing, but rather with the marketing tactics. They prey on all women. Women who are self-conscious, women who already (somehow) fit Victoria Secret's shallow mold, women who are smart or stupid, poor or rich, they get us all.

I've worked in retail for over a year now(though at a bookstore, not a clothing store) and I think I have an idea why they get you.

For starters, they are counting on the fact that their products are, at their base, a necessity in our modern society. They know that women believe that bras and underwear are staples, which will make them more likely to actually purchase their outrageously priced items because, hey, a girl's gotta have a bra, right? Why not get the best? They are, after all, worth the price because they are a higher quality, aren't they? In truth, not really. The amount of fabric, thread and wire needed to make a bra would cost significantly less than they charge. I digress.

They are also preying on the basic senses of a girl. Bright colors attract us to their store, and their product. You mentioned several times the color pink. They know that will catch your attention and calm you.

There are other bits, but I'm boring myself. The point is, Hayley, you aren't a victim of yourself but of Victoria's Secret's brilliant marketing team. Don't feel ashamed. You are a lovely, smart girl, and the occasional trip to Victoria's isn't so bad. It isn't called retail therapy for nothing.

Ms. Light said...

My issue isn't with the sexiness, because that is a truly natural and wonderful thing, but rather with the marketing tactics. They prey on all women. Women who are self-conscious, women who already (somehow) fit Victoria Secret's shallow mold, women who are smart or stupid, poor or rich, they get us all.

I've worked in retail for over a year now(though at a bookstore, not a clothing store) and I think I have an idea why they get you.

For starters, they are counting on the fact that their products are, at their base, a necessity in our modern society. They know that women believe that bras and underwear are staples, which will make them more likely to actually purchase their outrageously priced items because, hey, a girl's gotta have a bra, right? Why not get the best? They are, after all, worth the price because they are a higher quality, aren't they? In truth, not really. The amount of fabric, thread and wire needed to make a bra would cost significantly less than they charge. I digress.

They are also preying on the basic senses of a girl. Bright colors attract us to their store, and their product. You mentioned several times the color pink. They know that will catch your attention and calm you.

There are other bits, but I'm boring myself. The point is, Hayley, you aren't a victim of yourself but of Victoria's Secret's brilliant marketing team. Don't feel ashamed. You are a lovely, smart girl, and the occasional trip to Victoria's isn't so bad. It isn't called retail therapy for nothing.

Anonymous said...

I will probably get a lot of flack for this, but I actually like Victoria's Secret, and I am a rather intelligent woman. I finally settled on buying a few bras and some underwear from them because I kept running into problems with undergarments from other stores. My underwear would stretch out by the end of the day and hang almost lifelessly and my bras never fit correctly. I will say that their undergarments are the most comfortable that I have had in a long time. Their bras fit wonderfully and you can actually get them relatively decently priced, if you go on one of their sale days. The way I look at it, is that I would rather own two decent bras that fit correctly and underwear that will last me awhile than have a ton of bras that don't fit correctly and underwear that stretches out. I have been sized for bras and every bra that I have tried on fits differently, but with theirs, you figure out your size and it's guaranteed to fit just like the rest of them. I do feel more confident wearing them as well, which really helps my low self esteem.

color_me_surprised said...

So, I know this is totally irrelevant to your post but I wanted you to know that your rap videos are more creative and entertaining and just downright more adept than this:

http://www.youtube.com/user/mileymandy?blend=3&ob=4#p/u/1/2tSOTQPUQoU

I've never commented on any of your videos or blog posts before, but I found your youtube channel when I was in high school (I'm in college now and I'm STILL watching it) and they are absolutely hilarious.

As for Victoria's Secret, I can't say that I've felt the same. Maybe it's all that pink or the piles of panties lying around through which endless customers sift. One valid reason, though, is that I have admittedly underdeveloped boobs lol. For some reason, I can't even find something my size in those stores.

POST MORE BLOGS! Your writing is honest and never strives to be something other than itself. And it's funny and utilizes proper grammar and sentence structure, which is something I can appreciate.