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Pell City Baptist youth challenges lingerie displaycomment (0)

December 11, 2003

By Theresa Shadrix

A typical day at Quintard Mall in Oxford for one 12-year-old girl resulted in an official complaint to a national lingerie store and a request for common decency. 
Morgan McClure, a member of Cropwell Baptist Church in Pell City, filed a formal complaint with Victoria’s Secret parent company, Limited Brands, Nov. 17 over window displays that she feels are too seductive.  
The displays in question feature photographs of lingerie-clad women with seductive and suggestive poses. “I am not against the store. I think lingerie is fine.  It is just personal and should stay private, not stuck out in everyone’s face and out in a public place," she said.

A standout student at Duran Junior High School in Pell City, McClure is a member of the Beta Club and the Student Government Association.  She enjoys playing softball, singing, attending church and activities with Salt Sisters, a local Christian girls club that promotes community service and Bible study. 
She said the photographs in the displays have bothered her for more than a year but when she witnessed some boys gazing at the photographs and then comment rudely to girls who walked by, she had enough. McClure decided to ask Victoria’s Secret if the store could turn the advertisements around but management responded by telling her the photographs were part of the Victoria’s Secret image and gave her a customer service phone number at the national headquarters.  “It made me feel like she did not take me seriously,” McClure said
Accompanied by her mother, Donna, and with the full support of her father, Bruce, she then filed a complaint with the Quintard Mall. However, Victoria’s Secret leases the space, so it is a corporate issue. When the telephone number given to her by Victoria’s Secret management did not work, she decided to e-mail a complaint.  But there was one problem. The AOL filter on her computer would not allow her to log on without parental guidance.
“I tried to e-mail Victoria’s Secret and AOL has (age) 13 and under blocked. So I had to ask my Mom permission to get to the site.” The photographs on the Web site are the same as those featured in Victoria’s Secret stores across the nation.
She e-mailed her complaint to Victoria’s Secret and then called Les Wexner, CEO of Limited Brands. Other than a form letter from her e-mail, McClure has received no response. Likewise, Limited Brands did not return phone calls from The Alabama Baptist seeking comment.
What bothers McClure most is that young girls may feel self conscious about themselves with the image of the photographs.  “I think it tells them you need to look like this to be beautiful and for boys to think you are beautiful but it just makes boys think bad things.”
McClure is on a mission to get the photographs turned around in every Victoria’s Secret store and is gaining support from school children and adults in her community.  She said she has been collecting letters from young girls who share in her embarrassment of the displays and plans to mail them to Les Wexner. “I have been contacted by so many girls who say they feel the same way I do but were too scared to say something," she said. “I also hope that dads will stand with their daughters and support them. This means so much to girls.”
While similar complaints have been made about window displays at Victoria’s Secret, McClure may be the first pre-teen to file a complaint. She would like the city of Oxford to pass an ordinance similar to Homewood’s, even if it is only a suggestion to business owners. The city of Homewood passed a decency ordinance Nov. 11 following complaints from the residents about the Victoria’s Secret at Colonial Brookwood Village Mall.
Oxford Mayor Leon Smith said he is aware of McClure’s complaint and has talked to management at Victoria’s Secret. He plans to contact its corporate office. “I am pro-business, but I am also a Christian,” he said.
McClure feels that if the city has an ordinance on decency, Limited Brands might adhere to its own basic code to “Do what’s right — regardless of the circumstances.”  She feels she has lost her right to not view images she thinks are basically pornographic, a right she can control when viewing movies. 
“If I don’t want to see those images and my Mom or Dad say no to those images in PG movies, then what qualified Victoria’s Secret to start making that decision for us?”

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