Providing a Catholic framework on the truth and meaning of sexuality, love, and family

Archive for February, 2014

Victoria’s Secret Misguidedness – A Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

By: Lisa Norton

(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This blog is part 2 of a 2-part commentary on the recent refusal of a Victoria’s Secret employee to allow a customer to breastfeed her infant child in a dressing room at one of their stores.  This commentary offers a woman’s perspective on this issue, while last week’s post (click here to view), provided a man’s perspective.)

Victoria’s Secret made national news recently by denying a nursing mom the right to breastfeed her fussy son in the store, instead instructing her to go breastfeed in an alley nearby. Oh, the irony of breasts being consigned to “discreet” areas for fear of leaking to the public the true reason women have them to begin with!

Poor Victoria’s Secret. She just doesn’t get it, does she?  Famous for marketing phrases like, “Ooh La La Lift,” “Hello, Bombshell, Add Two Cup Sizes!,” and “Instant Hourglass Oomph!” the store seems to have a corner on specialty bras. Or does it? So many choices, so little understanding of the dignity of women. Victoria Secret’s bras are no secret. According to the store’s own descriptions, they are for a conspicuous display of breasts as show/play things. Conspicuous, that is, as long as they are not lactating. In which case, they become worthy of covering.

To separate the beauty of a woman’s breasts with the reason that God made breasts is to objectify not just breasts but women. Put simply, breasts point to the fact that women were created to have a vital role in the continuation of the human race.

“Motherhood has been introduced into the order of the Covenant that God made with humanity in Jesus Christ. Does not Jesus bear witness to this reality when he answers the exclamation of that woman in the crowd who blessed him for Mary’s motherhood: “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!”? Jesus replies: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it”(Lk 11:27-28). Jesus confirms the meaning of motherhood in reference to the body, but at the same time he indicates an even deeper meaning, which is connected with the order of the spirit: it is a sign of the Covenant with God who “is spirit” (Jn 4: 24)” (Apostolic Letter On The Dignity And Vocation Of Women, Blessed JPII, 1988). Blessed John Paul II’s letter in 1988 goes on to state,The history of every human being passes through the threshold of a woman’s motherhood.”

The beauty of the dignity of women as she is created by God is greatly misunderstood by today’s media images of fake women and by stores like Victoria’s Secret. For real women, their femininity and their fertility is a gift. Whereas society may see the summation of a woman’s femininity in her breasts, the truth is quite different. A woman’s femininity comes from a rightly-ordered understanding of a woman’s gift of self. Her gift of self is only fully understood through the lens of the virtue of chastity. Chastity makes us able to love with a Christ-like love and to understand our role as sexual beings. We are created to be a sincere gift of self in relationship with others. When this relationship is between a man and a woman, as in married love, the relationship is meant to be full, free, forever, fruitful, and faithful. This understanding of married love is lost when women are objectified, as in Victoria’s Secret ads.

Victoria’s Secret’s official support of breastfeeding women in their corporate response to this incident does not absolve them of due blame in my book. They portray women as objects and women repeatedly buy into the message to the tune of some six billion USD a year. I, personally, can think of better ways to spend money.

Lisa Norton is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools several of her 6 children.  She is also trained in the Creighton Model of NFP.  She and her family reside in the Upstate region of South Carolina.

Victoria’s Secret and Life-Giving Love

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

By: Michael Gagnon

(Family Honor Editor’s Note: This blog is a response to a recent news story involving a Victoria’s Secret employee who refused to allow a woman to breastfeed her infant child in a dressing room at their store.  Although corporate policy for Victoria’s Secret is to allow women to discreetly breastfeed in their stores, this was not an isolated incident of a VS employee not allowing it.  Click here for a link to the original story.  This post offers a male perspective on this issue.  This time next week, we’ll post a female perspective on the matter.) 

Whenever I’m in the mall, I grow anxious walking down a particular row of shops because I know that the Victoria’s Secret store is coming up. As a man, it is a significant temptation for me and I must make a conscious decision not to ogle the larger-than-life posters of women in lingerie that barely covers anything.

Like most men, I’m a very visual person and images of half-naked, photo-shopped models are the last things I want running through my head when I’m embracing my wife. Those 10-feet-tall photos of naked women on the Victoria’s Secret store fronts make it nigh impossible to keep a pure heart and mind. Why am I so drawn to stare and lust? I think, in large part, that the appeal of a full-breasted woman is that I’m drawn to the beauty of life-giving love. Nothing in the universe is more beautiful than life-giving love.

The Cross of Christ, the most heinous and evil act ever perpetrated by man has become the most beautiful act in all history. And in a small, yet beautiful way, a mother nursing her child is sacramental–making visible the invisible spiritual reality–inasmuch as she is giving of her own body, her own self, to nourish and give life. In fact, it is for this reason that few things in this world are as beautiful as motherhood; which is why it is not surprising, though highly ironic, that Victoria’s Secret would refuse to allow a mother her request to nurse her child.

Perhaps it is the corporate policy of Victoria’s Secret to allow mothers to nurse in their stores, but left to the individual employee, how could they allow it? A nursing mother threatens the very foundation upon which Victoria’s Secret stands: the objectification of women. Now, some might counter that Victoria’s Secret is just trying to help women feel beautiful and sexy. But if this is true, then why do they blatantly display posters of women of unobtainable physical dimensions? Why do they print their logo smack dab on the backside of a woman’s pants so that men’s eyes are drawn to them?

Simply by the presence of the store front porn-quality posters that Victoria’s Secret proudly displays, they demonstrate their total disregard for the beauty, mystery, and sacredness of the human person. Thus, their entire ethos is threatened by a mother nursing her child. Why? Because a nursing mother reveals the truth of a woman’s body. As Blessed John Paul II said, “The body, in fact, and it alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine. It was created to transfer into the visible reality of the world the mystery [of God]… and thus to be a sign of it.”

And so as a man, husband, father and Christian, I encourage mothers to continue to nurse their children and to fight for their right to do so in public and to counter society’s denigration of femininity and beauty. You are a witness to the beauty and love that God has made each of us for, and a reminder that he calls us to be life-giving in our relationships with others.

Michael Gagnon is a husband, father and Catholic youth minister in the Atlanta area. He has been called to serve God by serving young people and their families. You can read more from him on his blog at