Jenny Erikson is a mother and self-described conservative blogger who made waves online for saying she was okay with her 9-year-old daughter shopping at Victoria’s Secret, the lingerie store known for its sometimes racy attire, when she enters her tween years.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having cute panties and bras from the big girl store,” Erikson, of San Diego, Calif., told “Good Morning America.”
“As the mom of a girl that is soon going to decide she doesn’t want cartoon characters on her underwear, and will be wearing a bra sooner rather than later, I’m going to have to figure out where we’re going to purchase them,” Erikson wrote.
“It’ll probably be Victoria’s Secret — and I have no problem with that. I even like that fact that they are marketing toward a younger audience. What’s wrong with having fun, bright-colored underwear? Girls change all the time in front of each other — for sports or recreational activities that require it, at slumber parties or camp, for the school play … no one wants to be the girl with the ugly underwear.”
Erickson’s post sparked a debate online among parents over when, and even whether, it is okay to put items from a chain that displays its lace panties and revealing push-up bras in an annual, televised runway show into a tween’s shopping bag.
“I am trying to find a happy medium,” Erickson said. “That’s part of, you know, the struggle of parenting any kid, but especially girls of this age. You’re trying to make them feel pretty. You don’t want them to feel bad about their emerging sexuality.”
Attracting tweens, and even pre-tweens such as Hannah, who says she doesn’t know what Victoria’s Secret is, into their stores is exactly what major retailers like the lingerie chain are banking on, according to marketing experts.
When stores target 18- to 22-year-olds, marketing experts say, they are really hoping it is pre-teens who are paying attention.
“I don’t think any marketers would come out and admit that’s what they’re doing but clearly it seems to be something that’s happening with products that are designed for younger and younger girls,” said Jenny Rooney, CMO Network editor for Forbes magazine.
Hannah, for one, says she is ready to move her fashion “away from Gymboree and onto the next level,” but is not yet ready to rely solely on the Victoria’s Secret models walking the runway for fashion advice.
“Like my grandma says, don’t wear socks with sandals,” the pre-tween said of a more close-to-home fashion tip.
Her mother is also not yet ready to let her almost-tween daughter pick from every item on sale at Victoria’s Secret.
“I probably will not get lace for my daughter,” Erickson said. “But there’s a line between pretty and sexy and it’s hard when we’re talking about underwear to know where that difference is.”