Lingerie Ads and Little Eyes: 5 Easy Ways to Protect Kids from Porn (in Ads)

by Nov 16, 2017Speak Up

No doubt about it, nudity —or partial nudity— has become mainstream in our society. But just because it’s mainstream doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do to protect kids from porn. (Yes, even the soft-core porn that’s found everywhere in ads!)

One of our readers is ready to take on such a fight. In her own words, “I’m fed up with the push of lingerie ads!”

protect kids from porn little boy staring

Soft-core porn in the mailbox

Her frustration came to a boiling point when her eight-year-old son went to get the mail the other day. He was greeted by a voluptuous, provocatively posed woman in satin and lace lingerie. It was the cover a mailer from a popular lingerie chain.

Most upsetting to her was that she had not requested any mailings from this particular store. They had simply taken the liberty of sending it to everyone in the neighborhood.

Our reader feels strongly that the image on the cover was completely inappropriate for young eyes. She plans to take action by writing a formal complaint. She reached out to Protect Young Minds for help. Writing a letter of protest is another proactive way to protect kids from porn!

One voice equals 10,000!

Did you know it’s generally recognized that one letter of protest represents about 10 thousand members of a community? When you put your thoughts in writing businesses, institutions and politicians take notice!

So when an advertisement bothers you it’s not enough to wish that retailers and ad companies would consider your feelings. You have to speak up! We’re going to make that even easier to do by sharing 5 tips for a successful complaint letter. Plus, we’ve even included a FREE template with a sample letter!

5 tips for a successful letter of protest

Define WHY the image is offensive

For your letter to have the greatest impact, explain how the ad harms a specific group of society. You don’t have to be an expert in law or politics. Just put together a sound argument in your own words.

I surveyed several parents this week and asked them what offends them the most about typical lingerie ads. The common theme was how they objectify women. Here are a couple of responses:

“My concern is with how women are posed in advertising. It’s almost always a breast/butt shot, or some sort of impossibly arched back, etc.”

and

“It bothers me how they cast women as sexual objects. They place such a high value on ’sexiness’ and equate that with posing, and impossible body types. They try to make us feel bad about our bodies so that we buy their product.”

The exploitation and objectification of women is a hot topic today. (Remember the #MeToo campaign?) Don’t hesitate to tell businesses that they have an ethical responsibility to consider how they contribute to the #metoo culture.

Make it personal

Personal letters are more meaningful. Explain how an offensive ad impacts your family. One of the moms I spoke with shared this story:

“I had a very interesting conversation with my daughter after walking past a Victoria’s Secret video ad in the airport ‘Mom, why are they blowing kisses? Why are they wearing underpants and raincoats! Look, you can see her bum!”

The bottom line (no pun intended) is that the number one priority of any business is to make money —and they know that sex sells! They forget, or choose to ignore that children are very much in the line of sight of these ads. Parents and grandparents can protect kids from porn by vigilantly calling out businesses that ignore community decency standards.

Rally the troops

Check out how one mom gathered support in her community to help protect kids from porn!

Judy Cox couldn’t believe her eyes when she and her son walked passed by the PacSun store at the University Mall in Orem UT. In the window were displayed  t-shirts with images of half naked women in centrefold-type poses.

When the store manager refused to remove the pornographic shirts Cox did the only other thing she could think of —she bought every last offending shirt from the store! Her goal was to get them out of the view of young eyes as quickly as possible.

When Cox got home she wrote a letter and forwarded it through her extensive email lists. She encouraged her friends to get involved. And they did! Her willingness to act fast and speak out also caught the attention of several news outlets and brought the issue before city council. (Cox later returned the shirts when it was clear they would be removed from the store.)

What Cox did was amazing! But you don’t have to spend a dime to protect kids from porn. Just write your letter, spread the word and invite others to join your protest.

One is often enough

If others don’t stand with you write anyhow! I learned early on that one letter has the ability to effect positive change in advertising.

Growing up in a large city I saw billboards and posters plastered everywhere. One morning I was standing at an intersection when the city bus pulled up in front of me. Across its entire length was a larger-than-life the photo of a topless sunbather. The advertisement was for sunscreen.

In the early 90s, this image was one of the first it’s kind to hit my town. As I went about my day I couldn’t stop thinking that I had a responsibility to speak up. So, as soon as I got home I opened my phonebook (yup, no internet) and searched for where I could send my letter of protest.

Without social media and email lists I didn’t have the resources to gather community support. Still, my single letter still made a difference! Within 72hrs the image had been removed and replaced with a woman in a one-piece swimsuit.

I had felt alone, but wasn’t. My letter must have been one of many written in protest that week.

Send in triplicate

Nowadays it’s so easy to send multiple letters at once. Before you send, try to imagine where your letter will get the best results. If your complaint is with a retail outlet, don’t stop at the manager —take it all the way to the top! Gather names of specific individuals. Write your complaint. State the action you expect from each person on your list. Then clearly detail when you expect a response from each one.

That’s exactly the process this mom in Nebraska took after her five-year-old daughter identified pornography at their local grocery store.

After reading Good Pictures Bad Pictures together this young girl easily identified the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine as pornography. After a complaint to the store manager and a letter to corporate headquarters the magazines were removed from the checkout line racks, covered and placed in another location within the store. Not just in one store, but the across the entire chain! What a victory!!

You too CAN protect kids from porn in ads

There are so many more victories to be won. However some days it can feel overwhelming. When I asked another parent about lingerie ads she responded, “I feel like I have no say. It’s just there in front of me —in front of my kids!” 

The truth is every letter may not lead to immediate results. Yet it’s important to remember that EVERY LETTER COUNTS! When you see an ad that really discourages you don’t give up. There is always some action you can take. Direct your frustration into something proactive —like writing a well crafted protest letter! This is something everyone CAN do to help protect kids from porn. As the saying goes:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke

ACT NOW! Download your FREE Speak Up and Speak Up! Guide Today!

Marilyn Evans
Marilyn Evans is a popular speaker, writer, and coach. She is best known for her honest and real-life approach to helping families confront uncomfortable topics like pornography.


Marilyn holds a degree in Family, Home and Social Science from Brigham Young University. She is the Founder and CEO of Parents Aware. As well, she co-hosts and produces the Media Savvy Moms podcast.


Marilyn is the mother of five sons and has lived to tell the story. She and her husband currently live in southern Ontario with two of their sons and their dog Mandi.

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