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12-year-old challenges Victoria’s Secret

OXFORD, Ala. (BP)–Protests over the third annual Victoria’s Secret fashion show, scheduled to air tonight at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on CBS, may seem muted but complaints have been filed with Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, over window displays featuring mannequins and photographs of lingerie-clad models in Alabama and Connecticut.

Morgan McClure, a 12-year-old girl from Pell City, Ala., filed a complaint on Nov. 17 over a photograph featuring a young model in a push-up bra in the store which leases space from the Quintard Mall in Oxford, Ala. The same day, a mother in Greenwich, Conn., complained of a window display featuring a mannequin dressed in lacy lingerie at the Victoria’s Secret store in Greenwich, which is next to St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

McClure is a typical 12-year-old at Duran Junior High in Pell City who spends her free time playing softball, singing and attending church activities at Cropwell Baptist Church. The seventh-grader is a member of the Beta Club, the Student Government Association and Salt Sisters, a local Christian girls club that promotes community service and Bible study.

Her complaint may be the first from a pre-teen about Victoria’s Secret advertisements but it is not the first to originate from Alabama. On Nov. 11, the city council in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood approved a decency ordinance after receiving complaints about the Victoria’s Secret window display at Colonial Brookwood Village Mall.

McClure, whose stunning blue eyes, long blond hair and winning smile have graced local modeling ads, said the partially naked photos of girls posing seductively in panties and bras made her feel very uneasy.

“I found that I was very uncomfortable when I walked through the mall with my dad and with my friends,” she said. “I also saw men standing around looking at the photos and then treating girls in the mall around them in a rude manner.” McClure said she often shops at the mall and tries to avoid the store, but it’s hard to do when she walks from the movie theater to the food court.

With the support of her parents, Bruce and Donna McClure, she decided to ask the management of Victoria’s Secret if they could turn the store pictures around so passersby would not be subjected to the photographs. She was told by management that the advertisements were part of the Victoria’s Secret image. “It made me feel like she did not take me seriously,” she said.

When McClure attempted to e-mail a complaint through Victoria’s Secret’s website, the Internet filter on her computer would not allow her to log on without parental guidance. The pictures she could not view on her computer are the same as those in Victoria’s Secret window displays across the country. “It is one thing to sell lingerie,” she said, “but to add all that stuff is a bit too much. I am sure that there are other kids that feel uncomfortable like I do.”

While McClure understands that Victoria Secret has the right to produce advertisements to promote clothes, she thinks the window displays send the wrong message. “It makes some [girls] feel self-conscious about themselves because nobody can look like computer generated girls.”

McClure said she would like to see the photographs turned around in all Victoria’s Secret stores, believing that Limited Brands should adhere to its own basic code to “Do what’s right-regardless of the circumstances.”

Victoria’s Secret did not return phone calls seeking comment.

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  • Theresa Shadrix