Hello. My name is Rev. Evan M. Dolive and I want to begin by saying thank you to Radical Parents team for the opportunity to contribute to this site.
On March 22, I posted a letter on my website (www.evandolive.com) to Victoria’s Secret in response to their latest underwear line for Spring Break. As I was reading other articles from USA Today and Business Insider about the downward trend of marketing to a younger demographic, I began to think about the things I would want to tell my three year old daughter when she was faced with the difficult situations of adolescence. I did not want the hardest decision that she had to make to be whether someone would like her or be defined by the underwear she was wearing.
I must have struck a chord with people because after two weeks the letter had been read 3.7 million times on my website alone. I have received emails, Facebook messages and tweets from all around the world. Overwhelmingly the response has been positive. I have been interviewed by local TV stations, radio shows from around the country, HLN (Headline News) and CNN.
Through all of this I have been shocked and humbled.
Throughout my interviews two questions kept popping up: How does one respond as parent? As a Christian, how do you respond to this? These are important questions that need to be considered.
First, I wrote the letter as father who happens to be a minister. When I read about what Victoria’s Secret was doing or planning to do or thought about doing, it was hard for me wrap my brain around it. Questions began to swirl in my head: How could this be happening? Am I the only one seeing this? I didn’t know what to do. I had some success before with writing letters to companies about bad service or not having a baby changing station in the bathroom. So I took the web and composed a letter, thinking that no one outside of my friends on Facebook would ever read it. It is my belief that as parents, we need to stand up for what we believe is right and just for our children.
We all have the potential to speak out for what we believe in and for what we want to stand for. As my friend and ministry colleague, Rev. Laura Phillips, told me “speak even if your voice shakes.” While I might be one person, I sent a message; I spoke up for my daughter and every other young girl. I wanted to express my feelings about the message of beauty and sexuality that one particular company was sending.
As a Christian I believe that marketing campaigns that overly sexualize and objectify women distorts the Imago Dei or the Divine Image. I believe that all of humanity is created in the image of God and because of this we are carry a piece of God with us. How we use our body and how we treat our body is a direct reflection of the spirit of God within us. When companies like Victoria’s Secret post ten foot posters at their stores of size zero models in a bra and panties, they are setting up an unattainable standard of beauty and sexuality. Victoria’s Secret (and other companies) distort what is achievable by wearing their underwear sets and thus distorts the Imago Dei.
God created humanity in a myriad of ways; some people are tall, some are short, some people have curly hair, some people have straight hair. This is how God, the Creator of everything from the Rocky Mountains to the fire ant, made you. There is no other person in the entire world like you, nor will there ever be. You bear the image of God within you and when God knitted you in your mother’s womb, God knew that you were special and that you were going to be different than everyone else. I know this sounds cheesy, but its the truth.
As parents we have to be aware of the images and messages that are being conveyed to our children. The conflict arises when the message is sent and our children do not see that the message is a problem. This is a teachable moment.
The message that we need to be sending or teaching our children is “You are who you are created to be. Nothing you wear will define you and no amount of peer pressure will change it.” This might be tough for a middle school/high school age youth to hear, but this is the message that needs to be hammered home. Yes, the conversation might be difficult or awkward or even scary but this should not let us as parents to waver in our duty to instill into our children (no matter the age) the values of self-esteem, self-worth and self-pride.
Original Letter Post Link- bit.ly/VSLetter
Read more of Evan’s writing: