I’m Keeping Victoria’s Secret

26 Nov

They say you can tell a lot about someone by looking at her garbage, but you can also tell a lot about someone from looking at her catalogs.

Consumer buying guides reflect our gender, age, interests, and observing from my neighbor Jerry’s recycling bin, weird fetishes for Japanese adult action figures.

When you subscribe to a magazine, sign up for a credit card, or buy something from a catalog such as Lands End, your personal information is reported to a national data base like WikiLeaks which notifies other catalog companies about your preference for flannel jammies, 500-thread-count cotton sheets, and Starbucks coffee.  Before you know it, you’re part of a direct marketing campaign designed to match you and your buying preferences with offers for free linens with the purchase of a Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino.

But how well are we matched with our catalogs?  I began to ponder this one morning when, while walking through my neighborhood, I noticed a Victoria’s Secret Catalog atop someone’s curbside recycling stack.  It occurred to me that I hadn’t received my Victoria’s Secret catalog in over a year, maybe two, okay—since the Gulf War.

To be fair, I hadn’t patronized Victoria’s Secret in over a decade.  Not since the time I was strolling the mall pregnant, and stopped in front of a Victoria’s Secret window display.   I stared wistfully at the mannequin’s scanty lace bra and panty ensemble.  I weighed them against my own expandable underpants and nursing bra.  I felt envy.  I felt desire.  I felt . . . a flow of milk gush through my breasts.

It must have been about that time that Victoria’s Secret gave up on me, knowing I had left them for Destination Maternity.  It was the same way Toys “R” Us gave up on my kids when they lost interest in Easy Bake Ovens and Nerf guns.   Exactly when that happened I don’t know; I was too distracted buying stuff from Pottery Barn Teen.

More recently, I’ve moved up a notch on the catalog timeline.  According to the national database service, I’ve now aged out of Victoria’s Secret, staged out of Destination Maternity, and ripened into JCPenny’s Woman.

But who said I was ready to trade in my tight jeans for stretch denim, or replace my sexy tees with embroidered tunics?

If Victoria’s Secret could register the complexities of the human experience, they would understand me better as a consumer and realize that my age alone doesn’t determine how I think and act.   Just because I don’t fit their 18-35 year old target audience doesn’t mean I don’t fit their product.   I have needs too, and right now I need a push up bra more than ever.

I may have moved on in years . . .but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep Victoria’s Secret.

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59 Responses to “I’m Keeping Victoria’s Secret”

  1. LuAnn November 26, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    You are so darn funny! What a way to start my week. :)

  2. downhousesoftware November 26, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I completely understand. I often don’t feel like I even know who I am until those catalogs start arriving.
    Christmas has become a time of catalog barrage and self assessment in our household.A time when you see yourself through the eyes of the consumer marketing consultant. I’m not sure what kind of person I was before… probably one who didn’t get many catalogs. But today we get hoards of them and a pretty clear picture emerges of how we are seen. Obviously, someone knows that we like to buy brainy toys for our son, nieces and nephews because we get Mindware, Young Explorers and Magic Cabin almost every day. We also have dreams of one day returning to our more outdoorsy life as evidenced by Althleta, Title Nine and Patagonia catalogs. And we own a house: Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Seniors, Pottery Barn Barnyard and Pottery Barn Middle-Aged Kitchen. And we project an illusion of wealth: Hammacher and Schlemmer, Levingers and that one that thinks your deck should be a complete outdoor recreation of the indoors with sofas, ten thousand dollar stereo speakers and robots to deliver martinis to you while lounging in a floating Barcalounger. We also get about four copies of every catalog because no one spells our name properly.
    But that’s not what’s making me feel old. I have to admit that I’ve been starting to lie about my age to casual strangers and even family.
    I haven’t changed my Facebook / every other internet site photo since my son was about two or three. He’s almost eight now and anyone who knows us well can see that he no longer looks anything like that anymore. I don’t think I look much different now, but how long can I keep that up? The portrait in my attic is starting to slouch and prune with every passing year and even my son has caught on that I claim to turn 28 on every birthday. In class, my students look at me askance whenever I put 70s/80s trivia on my biology quizzes, “How old are you again Dr. Treml?”
    I’m not even sure why I care.
    Am I what my mailbox thinks I am? The man in my Facebook? A young biology teacher? Or just some poor sap who lies about his age to feel like I still matter?

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 6:12 am #

      Of course you still matter. That’s evidenced by all the catalogs you get! ;) Thanks for your heartfelt response. I enjoy reading your comments. It is interesting to reflect back on our catalogs and watch the evolution of how we’ve changed and how the catalog companies think we’ve changed–and how accurate or inaccurate they are. Who needs Facebook timeline when we have catalogs? ;) I know what you mean about the age thing. I know my world will change the day I get AARP in my mail box. That’s when I might consider purchasing that robot you mentioned that will deliver martinis to my barcalounger.

  3. Paprika Furstenburg November 26, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    If catalogs give people insight into who you are as a person, I am in trouble. For the past few years, I have been receiving catalogs for Heifer International: a catalog that gives you the opportunity to buy a goat, sheep, or water buffalo and donate it to a village somewhere in the world. How on Earth did I get on that catalog’s mailing list? I’ve never purchased farm animals before and I certainly wouldn’t buy one sight unseen from a catalog. I can only imagine what my neighbors must be thinking if they see that in my pile of recycling.

    • earthriderjudyberman November 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      I know I didn’t pass along your name and address, Paprika. We donated to Heifer International last year … bought half of a goat. Not sure which end, but the intent is to “teach people to fish” rather than just give them a fish. The former helps them be more self-sufficient. :-)

      • Paprika Furstenburg November 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

        I actually think the concept of Heifer International is really wonderful, but it just seems so weird to be able to “purchase” half a goat or a whole water buffalo from a catalog.

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 6:19 am #

      I got that catalog too, but in mine the goat was wearing a push up bra.

      • Paprika Furstenburg November 27, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

        I think that is a whole other kind of catalog…

  4. G M Barlean November 26, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    So true. Loved this one. Hey. I get travel magazines with senior citizens on the cover and I’m 49. What’s up with that!?!?!

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 6:39 am #

      Too funny. I wonder what you’ll get at 59, catalogs on aging in place?

      • G M Barlean November 27, 2012 at 10:51 am #

        Funeral parlor and cemetery plot catalogues, apparently.

  5. Honie Briggs November 26, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Chico’s has my number these days. Yeah, VS catalogs still show up, but I think that has more to do with my (don’t touch me) plaid pajamas. The last time I went into Victoria’s Secret looking for a bra this child sales clerk explained to me that “padded bras have padding and underwire bras have underwire” wtf? all I asked was if they had any bras without underwire. I left, never to darken their doorstop with my petite grande shadow again.
    If you’ve ever shopped at Chicos, you must know the psychological effect shopping there can have on a woman. They sell only sizes 00 – 4.5, that’s right, the size demons are squelched at Chico’s where a conventional size 12-14 is a size 2. Even if your ass is huge, it’s still only a size 4. Pure Genius!

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 6:50 am #

      “The size demons are squelched. . .” You have a great way with words. Your take on the Chicos experience is very funny. I hope to read more about it on your blog!

  6. Carrie Rubin November 26, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    I wish Victorias Secret would quit sending me catalogues. Not sure why they think I need one every five days. They could certainly save the trees in my case. :)

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 8:11 am #

      Are you saying they should bark up another tree? ;)

      • Carrie Rubin November 27, 2012 at 9:15 am #

        Woof, woof.

        By the way, I read My Funny Major Medical. So funny. My mistake was to read it on the plane. I was trying hard not to look like an idiot laughing out loud, but I don’t think I succeeded. I left a review on Amazon and B&N. So enjoyable!

      • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 11:31 am #

        So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for your support, Carrie! Much appreciated.

      • Carrie Rubin November 27, 2012 at 11:32 am #

        My pleasure. My husband read the ‘Roid Rage’ one last night and was almost in tears. Now he plans to read the rest as well.

  7. nursemommylaughs November 26, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    Very funny. Vicki bumped me when she decided I wasn’t going for the diamond encrusted bras. Of course when I could have worn them and looked good, I could never have afforded them. It’s twisted fate!

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      LOL. I could see you delivering this in a stand up routine. “Vicki bumped me . . . ” still laughing . . .

  8. cindyricksgers November 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Hilarious! I won’t even tell you the stuff I’ve been receiving since I joined AARP!

  9. funnysister November 26, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Really Funny & so very true. One pair of sensible Dansko clogs and I’m suddenly pegged as a creature of comfort…..so now I’m receiving Soft Surroundings Catalogs. Next step: My dear departed Grandmother’s beloved Tog Shop.

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 8:22 am #

      Thanks. Loved your comment. I like my creature comforts too. Clogs aren’t just for nurses anymore . . .

  10. Perfecting Motherhood November 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    I’m lucky enough to not get catalogs. I think I signed up to be on the do-not-send-me-catalogs list years ago and apparently it’s still valid. Do you really want to buy something at Victoria’s Secret though? I don’t think anything they sell is actually comfortable to wear for more than 5 minutes, which may be the whole point, but then why dump $50 or more on it? ;-)

  11. appletonavenue November 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    Those guys keep up with us as we age. Wait till your my husband’s age, he gets advertisements for cheap cremation services and AARP invitations.

  12. Debbie November 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Ah, this is a hoot! It’s also one reason I hate registering my age on anything. Who’s to say how I view the world? Age is only a small part of who I am, and I’ve never looked or acted like my age! My laptop is a prime culprit of this sort of advertising. If you want to skew things a bit, try looking for something odd and see. Dragonfruit, anyone?!

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      Oh, don’t even get me started on online advertising. I’m scared for what will pop up after mentioning lingerie!

  13. Grown and Flown November 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Honestly half the catalogs, no, make that two-thirds are from places I have never ordered anything from. I must be on some great master list of catalogs that you can never get off of!

  14. earthriderjudyberman November 26, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Lisa, I still get Lands End and L.L. Bean catalogues, and I haven’t bought anything from them in years. But I lust mightily for many of their products.
    Sad to say, as folks age, those Madison Avenue types decide that’s not the market they’re after. Why not? Older folks usually have more disposable income. The “secret” is the marketing folks know many of us are brand loyal. They don’t want to spend the money to convince us to switch so they go for the younger, more flexible crowd.

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      At least you’ve given me hope that as I age I’ll have more disposable income!

      • earthriderjudyberman November 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        I can’t guarantee anything after the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21st or after we tumble off the “fiscal cliff.” :-)

  15. Gunta November 26, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I used to love the ones that promised that they were sending my LAST catalogue unless I ordered something. Alas, they never kept that promise. I’ve signed up with an outfit that contacts the companies that send unwanted catalogues. It really works, (https://www.catalogchoice.org) Then again, I’m a bit conflicted wanting to support out post office since so many of us have switched to paperless or online stuff.

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 11:09 am #

      Thanks so much for providing that catalog choice link. I hope readers will find it useful. I know I did!

  16. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer November 27, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    How about writing “return to sender” on the address label of each catalogue, and putting them in the mailbox. After having to pay twice to send you a catalogue and pay for the return postage maybe they’ll get the idea and take you off their mailing list…

    • Main Street Musings Blog November 27, 2012 at 11:29 am #

      That’s an interesting strategy! And now I’ll be singing Elvis’s “Return to sender” all day!

  17. Lou and Kitty November 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    It’s really a shame that when you needed a bust up, Victoria decided on a bust up.

    Lou

  18. Audubon Ron November 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    See,this is exactly why we are “into” BDSM bondage gear. No catalogs. You’ve got to go direct to the supplier for dog collars…but, that’s us.

  19. Huffygirl November 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    I still get my VS catalogs, but when I go in the store I feel like I’m shopping for a 13 year old granddaughter instead of for myself. I buy VS online most of the time to avoid this hazard. Another trend I find disturbing is that all these 13 year old girls who shop there are bringing their boyfriends with them into the store.

  20. gabrielablandy November 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Another funny insight. I’ve been getting the screw fix catalogue through my door for a while – I wonder if someone is making a hint about how much of a DIY rescue my house needs.

  21. carolynpageabc November 29, 2012 at 12:32 am #

    Hahahhhh…
    Whilst in San Francisco in 2010 I visited a Victoria’s Secret store to buy a ‘push-up’ bra…
    I am certainly many years senior to the expected push-up demographic age group…
    I hadn’t worn it though until this weekend past, when a certain new dress called for a little plumage…!
    How confident I felt when my little hen’s chest found its way into the light…! And all because I refuse to be ‘pigeon-holed’….!

  22. Elliot December 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

    This is like how you can tell who a tv channel / show is aimed at by the advertising. But when I’m watching a documentary and there is a constantly re-aired commercial for “Trans-vaginal mesh” issues, I’m beginning to wonder who they think the audience is. That one, I’ll let that go, I don’t need one of those. Hopefully as I get older I won’t be needing the viagra commercial with its “see our ad in golf magazine” line. Actually, come to think of it, I would hate to see those finding there way to the mail box.

  23. kriskkaria December 3, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    I feel out of place in Victoria’s Secret but they keep sending me discount cards. So, I go any way. Your story would be perfect for my podcast, Does This Happen to You. Can I narrate it? I specifically mention your blog in my podcast and put a link to it on my podcast page.

  24. Rivka And Her Wit December 7, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Now this is a fun topic…and just the lighthearted type of reading I needed at this moment of couch decompression (actually, that would be me decompressing while sitting upon our sofa). Thank you.

  25. Jean March 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    I have to laugh aging out of VS. This past weekend I went to some national lingerie chain stores and was rather bemused, if not also slightly horrified by the neon yellow, neon pick stuffed, bazooka bras and panties.

    Seriously, this stuff must be worn for a joke. And floor to ceiling racks of this stuff.

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