How Do I Explain Victoria's Secret Commercials To My Daughter?

In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to our readers for insight.

Call it a tale of two commercials.

One was your typical Victoria's Secret lingerie piece with skinny women and their breasts hawking something about Angels bras (is it just me, or is the Angels line not as sexy as they think? I hear angels and immediately think of chubby little wee cherubs with halos and sawed-off wings — mmm, sexy, I know).

The other was a Fruit of the Loom commercial with underwear for the rest of the world — regular people who eat more than 2,000 calories a day and have rolls and handles and, gasp, waddles.

I was watching TV with my 4-year-old daughter when these commercials aired and I braced for the questions.

"Why isn't that lady wearing clothes?"

"What's up with those stupid wings anyway?"

"Is that what girls grow up to be?"

What followed instead was radio silence, although I started to wonder just how much influence these commercials and images and body messages will come to have in her life when she gets older and starts watching more TV or flipping through magazines or web sites.

It was nice to see examples of regular people in advertising on the Fruit of the Loom commercial, but I was surprised to find I wasn't as annoyed by Victoria's sexy saturation and ode to impossible bodies as I thought I'd be. I admit I may be the wrong man to talk about bodies and subliminal messages, but are these advertisements really so bad for young girls?

Maybe in a vacuum with no other influences, sure, but can't parents help cut through the noise? Isn't that our job? Aren't all the advertisements offset by parents who try to impart the idea that people are beautiful just the way they are? I'm more concerned about all the toy commercials showing boys playing with cool blocks or mind games while girls are relegated to the plastic kitchen or the doll house.

I should probably break this up into two different columns — one talking about commercials and advertisements, and the other talking about the influence of other media, such as movies or TV show. (I was far more likely as a child to copy Keanu Reeves surfing than anything I saw on commercial break.) So just dealing with ads, what influence do they really have on girls?

Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!. He did, on the other hand, simply have to buy Reebok Pumps.

Image by Lauri Apple.