What if Victoria’s Secret used their caché in a certain demographic to promote the importance of consent? It seemed to be reality this month with the web site Pink Loves Consent, set up by the Baltimore feminist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture.
FORCE used the Victoria’s Secret logo and their trademark PINK line to showcase an imaginary new line of consent-themed panties, with slogans like “No Means No,” “Talk To Me,” and “Ask First.”
FORCE’s parody web site compared their imaginary line to real VS slogans like “Sure Thing” and “No Peeking.”
As the web site says, “Across the country, women are saying ‘NO’ and not being heard. Maybe it is because people (men and women alike) think that words like ‘no’ are for flirting and don’t have much meaning.”
Even better, the Pink Loves Consent models embody a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and ethnicities.
The front page of the web site shows “No Means No” panties modeled by a plus-size woman of color, and their “new styles” page has such a range of bodies, even with only 11 women shown, that it puts Victoria’s Secret to shame.
Perhaps Victoria’s Secret should sit up and pay attention to the response to this fake campaign, which was overwhelmingly positive.
FORCE reports that even some Victoria’s Secret employees were fooled, as evidenced by tweets like “I am so happy to currently have a job for a company that stands for something so beautiful!!”
A spokesperson for FORCE noted that “Though they are a woman-focused company, VS has never taken a stand on any women’s issue.”
Indeed, although they are selling to primarily women, Victoria’s Secret does seem to pander to the male gaze. They have a reputation for “conventionally sexy” models and conventional femininity that excludes the vast number of women who don’t identify with that image.
As FORCE summarizes it, “PINK has co-opted the idea of sexual freedom and twisted it into an image of sexuality in which the woman (or girl) is not really in control… The brand teaches girls to be coy instead of vocal and makes it seem uncool and unsexy to say no and mean it.”
FORCE has since gone the extra mile with “operation panty drop.”
It’s not legal for them to sell the underwear they’ve designed, because their use of the Victoria’s Secret logo is only protected as long as they’re not making any money off of it.
However, they whipped up a bunch of “Consent Panties” and shipped them to supporters all over the country to be surreptitiously dropped off in actual Victoria’s Secret stores. They’re currently out of underwear, but you can find instructions and templates for making your own Consent Panties here.
Magdalena Newhouse is a senior at Oberlin College, where she teaches a class on body positivity and fat acceptance.