Hollywood Walk of Lame: Star for Victoria’s Secret Models? Why?

vs-fashion-show.jpgUpdate Dec. 12, 2014 With the (ugh, annual) Victoria’s Secret Fashion show strutting the ‘Angels’ around in their skivvies again this week, and Taylor Swift and her bestie Karlie Kloss center stage on the runway this season as Taylor moves toward age 25 and new sights and sounds, one has to reflect upon the ongoing barrage of pop culture messages sent to young girls, as our friends at Beauty Redefined wrote about so eloquently and accurately with aplomb.

Please read (and reread!) their post, and remind yourselves that ambient cues to kids on their worth and value cannot be ‘turned off’ as easy as a TV set. Think about what media messages are being sent to both boys AND girls every time you pass by lingerie clad mall displays and billboards with hyper-sexualized objectification. Empowerment? Or consumption? Reminder PSA: Girls are not Candies. Tweens are not teens. Thongs are not undies. VS Fashion show is not ‘fashion.’

Original post: 2007 Bogie and Bacall, Tracy and Hepburn, and…the Victoria’s Secret undie gals? Talk about the erosion of an American icon…At least Lassie and Big Bird earned their Hollywood Walk of Fame stars as working actors.

What the heck did these gals do besides prance around in their underwear and give females body image angst?

Shaping Youth advisory board member Audrey Brashich of All Made Up and Don’t Believe the Hype sums up the issue in her blog when she says, “If I were a film legend and had worked hard to earn that, I’d be p.o.ed that some people were getting the same honor primarily because of how they look.” I second that motion.

Some of the classic film greats from the Golden Era must be rolling their graves.

Specific categories for sidewalk stars are: live theater, motion picture, radio, recording, and television, nowhere does it say vampy, campy strut-n-swish or glamorama soul- sucking vibes of what an ‘ideal’ beauty should be…nope, sorry, I just don’t see the connection.

I searched for the directory of sidewalk stars and historic CRITERIA to earn a slab of terrazzo, focusing on Hollywood’s official chamber of commerce site hoping for data beyond recent Walk of Fame ceremonies…But much like the models themselves, most of the press was just visual entertainment. (NBC11 news slideshow, PopCrunch, lipstick.com’s newsfeed roundups and such…)

I tried Defamer, Variety, the Reporter, all the usual suspects, but Stephanie Quilao’s blog, “Back In Skinny Jeans” gave me the ‘at a glance’ insight regarding the ‘whys and hows’ the models made it onto the radar; plus, she did the ol’ lift-n-reveal on the cash prereqs, PR ploys and timing coinciding with the ‘seasonal special.’

It was a rare jewel in a sea of ga-ga hero worship, starstruck fan squeals, and even national ‘pride’ as the Australian press hailed Miranda Kerr as their own entry into “America’s modeling royalty”…and China’s press covered it too.

walkoffamelogo1.jpgMust we foul up other cultures and countries with warped mindsets too? Ugh.

Though I try to stay solutions-focused, I’ve gotta say, the biggest solution here is to eliminate the problem, by not bestowing this kind of media accolade in the first place.

Rewarding the ‘babes as bods’ bit is a HUGE part of the media problem in terms of conveying what we value as a society…Kids are paying attention here, folks.

The message is inextricably entwined. Being lavishly admired for your appearance makes it aspirational, pure and simple. Who doesn’t want to be loved and adored?

As I recently wrote in this Wired Campus commentary about females lagging in entering computer science and technology fields,

“Look, as long as media and marketing put forth “BomChickaWaWa” Axe girls and hoochy-mama PussyCat Dolls as the dominant image of females with a token lab-coated scientist or sharp heroine or two, REAL life girls get a very clear message of what our society appreciates in terms of looks vs. achievement, role model wise.”

“Media consistently depicts tech/science and math club characters as social outcasts, misfit nerds, unpopular foppish freaks or hackers…So if girls are taking their social cues as ‘boy toys’ while boys are using toys of technology, it seems pretty obvious why things aren’t inching up in parity very fast.”

The VS model starpower just stokes this glamorama glorification further…

I cited the lack of space station coverage as proof positive of misguided accolades and ended with this,

“Until girls begin to see themselves depicted in media with techno-savvy appeal, don’t be surprised if they shun ‘tech’ camps in favor of using their digital cameras for media, modeling, web-celeb storytelling or other more trivial pursuits aspiring to be adored and admired.

Single syllable recall goes to names like Tyra, Britney, Oprah, Lindsay, but astronauts? Quick, tell me fast…what are the two space commanders’ names?”

If you try to laugh off the absurdity of it all, and realize this isn’t exactly, er, rocket science, there ARE a few blogosphere jewels that put the silliness into context.

vic7.jpg This post, “Ellen’s Old Dog Iggy Gets Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame,” made me grin and put things in context in terms of Hollywood’s ongoing exploits. After all, with about 2,350 stars to date and 20 or so pouring forth annually, it’s a bit watered down from a fame game standpoint.

As The Washington Post reported, as long as you’re ‘human and not dead,’ a celebrity sighting is pretty much guaranteed when the town rolls out the red carpet for these Walk of Fame events.

It’s becoming rather commonplace, but still…leggy lingerie ladies? Bleh. The damage FAR outweighs the PR puddle and Hollywood hype-splash in the messaging it’s sending to kids.

Even if I desperately stretch the imagination and search for positive signs on this VS storyline, (like these ‘VS angels’ donating their wings) it smacks of distorting philanthropy into a photo opp, muck like the new box top branding to teens with Doritos grants for good causes. (Targeting kids to do good things via junk food engagement is a mixed message if ever I saw one…The ‘swim where the fish are’ theory is a demographic given, but the trivialization of philanthropy, and mashup of ethics and causes is unsettling (I’ll cover THAT trend in full later).

To me, until we alter the media lens of ‘what’s cool’ to celebrate the icons that are deserving over the vapid values we’re putting forth, then we’ll be stuck in the spin cycle of ‘false authenticity,’ human productization, and commercialized reality over lives filled with meaning.

What do you think? Shrug it off? Tune out the ambient noise? Ignore it altogether? Are we vaporizing any meaning out of hard-earned feats with these trivial ‘hall of famers?’

We’re clearly “shaping youth” and “packaging girlhood” based on who media covers and chooses to honor and admire…

So give us YOUR votes and views for People Shaping Youth in a much worthier way!

Which reminds me, forthcoming in that category, we’re profiling actress Mary McDonough of Beauty and the Breast, Carissa Phelps of the “Homeless Youth Among Us” Awareness project, Hugo Bonjean of QuantumShiftTV, and more…

Send us YOUR top picks for where the media lens SHOULD be turning, with data on the reasons why… If we pick your person to profile we’ll send you a copy Packaging Girlhood with our thanks!

p.s. Authentically, please…no PR poseurs, ‘be an angel’ and do some filtering for us! 🙂

THE BACK STORY:

(From this Washington Post.com article on tourista tips for ‘seeking out the stars’)

“The Walk of Fame was established in 1960 as a way of reviving the rundown Hollywood district, and now boasts 2,342 terrazzo and brass stars. Walk of Fame recipients have ranged from the iconic (Judy Garland) to the obscure (silent film star Art Acord) to the canine (Lassie) and the celluloid (Mickey Mouse). In the 1980s, a rule was instituted that stars must show up for unveilings, and the ceremonies became the media-fests we’re familiar with today.

Honorees must be nominated; in addition to boasting an artistic legacy of at least five years, they must have contributed to the community with some good works. The nominees, their sponsors or their fans also must agree to foot the $25,000 cost of installing a star.”

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Comments

  1. VERY interesting post on Seth Godin’s blog about the ‘end of misogyny’ pointing to McCain’s slur, and the FoxNewsPorn spoof on YouTube…
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/11/the-end-of-miso.html

    As he sums here: “And now Robert Greenwald has put together a really disturbing (NSFW) video of misogyny and pornography as broadcast on Fox News…As Hugh Hefner demonstrated with Playboy fifty years ago, objectifying women was a shortcut to cash. And all you have to do is visit Las Vegas to see it happening in every hallway, on every billboard. What is now becoming clear is that many of the people in your market won’t stand for it any longer. One more shortcut, gone.”

    The day I see the shortcut using the ‘sex sells’ bit off the table is the day I whoop and holler from the highest mountain that the world is ready for REgeneration so to speak…fills me with hope and promise…I’m not sure I’m seeing the pushback that he’s eluding to, for it seems more rampant than ever…but maybe I’m running in the wrong circles…? 😉

  2. I am writing an English paper on the impact of Victorias Secret marketing on our youth. It has been published that they target men to make women believe that they need to buy their product to keep or get a man. I believe that this sends a bad message to our youth and crushes self esteem. Is there any research that you can help me find to substanciate my claim?

  3. Andy, you can easily draw from the APA Task Force 72pp paper on sexualization of females and how it’s taking its toll on the girls (esp w/the ‘get the guy’ allure creeping in at ever younger ages like 8-12 TWEEN targets for thong undies and such)

    Here are a couple of other articles on SY with links to data you can use, and feel free to quote any/all of our work here, as well as informing your professor about the upcoming SPARKsummit in NYC this fall with YOUTH pushing BACK on this constant messaging. Should be quite a dust up! 😉

    For your review: http://shapingyouth.org/?p=12083 (SPARK summit and branding influences)

    Also PackagingGirlhood.com has a whole section on the VS issue and think pink marketing to tweens (my post on the harm here: http://shapingyouth.org/?p=309 )

    Another one right in this realm: “Girls Are not Candies, tweens are not teens, thongs are not undies” http://shapingyouth.org/?p=10731

    (see reco reading link list at the end of that one e.g.)

    “So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne

    Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes (Packaging Boyhood, Oct 2009; S.Y. Board Advisors)
    Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown

    Sexual Teens, Sexual Media: Investigating Media’s Influence on Adolescent Sexuality Jane Brown et al (Eds)

    http://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Teens-Media-Investigating-Communication/dp/0805834907/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250666289&sr=1-1

    APA Task Force on the Early Sexualization of Children (full 72pp pdf)

    http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx

    SexTech: ISIS-Inc. Conference/Resources

    Girls Shape the Future: Study/Girls Inc: Early Predictors of Girls’ Adolescent Sexual Activity (summary: 8 pp pdf)
    http://www.girlsinc.org/downloads/Girls_Shape_the_Future_Summary.pdf

    Hope this helps–I’d love to see what you’ve written, in case you feel like publishing it for other students online to learn from?! 🙂 We’re asking for interns to apply right now if you’re interested? Best, Amy
    Amy Jussel recently posted..Teen Girls- Ready For A Rebel Yell SPARK Change Now!My Profile

  4. I LOVE this post! Thank you for directing me to this very telling piece of writing. Victoria’s Secret’s marketing tactics are impressive and impressively sinister in their repackaging of feminism and femininity into something to be bought and sold. We’re very much on the same page here. Thank you for your always articulate, powerful, thought-provoking work!!! We love Shaping Youth and Amy Jussell!!!

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