Skip to content

Playboy for Diva: Now young girls can help prop up a failing porn company!

Pic credit: Collective Shout
Playboy’s profits are in the toilet. Actually, they began posting big losses at least five years ago, when their magazines started to lose popularity.

The answer? Slap the Playboy bunny logo on every product in the known universe. Adults, children, male, female – Playboy doesn’t mind. If you have money, they’re happy to take it. There are energy drinks that boost the libido, doona covers, pencil cases, T-shirts – and now a range of sparkly earrings, necklaces and rings at Diva.

Diva’s market is primarily tweens and teens. No matter what the company says about it being a store for all ages, the pink love hearts all over their website, the “BFF us on Facebook” button and the ads in girls’ magazines are all a bit of a giveaway.

In a press release, the company described the Playboy jewellery as “the perfect amount of jewels and just the right amount of sexiness” and said the range “will have every girl feeling glamorous and red carpet ready”.

Yeah . . . no. For young girls there is no “right amount of sexiness”. Nor do they need to feel “red carpet ready”.

News flash, Diva: maybe you haven’t noticed, but pretty much every child and adolescent expert has warned against the increasing sexualisation of girls. The American Psychological Association says that sexualisation has a negative effect on girls’ “cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and beliefs”.

The objectification of younger and younger females – from padded bras to Playboy bunnies — turns girls’ burgeoning sexuality into something that’s not for their pleasure at all. It teaches them instead that they’re playthings, to be displayed and logoed and ogled. – Mary Elizabeth Williams, salon.com

The Playboy logo is creeping into our culture everywhere. The Easter bunny even visited the Playboy mansion in the film Hop. It seems that companies such as Diva want us to view this brand, which makes money out of girls getting naked to please men, as nothing more than harmless, mainstream fun.

I know some of you have been dismayed that there are girls sticking up for Playboy on Diva’s Facebook page. That is their right – but I want to make a case for what Playboy really means.

1. Playboy is not harmless, mainstream fun. It is not a cute little bunny.

2. Playboy is Hugh Hefner. He is 85. He lives in the Playboy mansion with his girlfriends, all at the same time. It’s no so much that he could be their father, more like their grandfather. Or great-grandfather. He ain’t that cool really, is he?

3. Playboy isn’t harmless or soft porn. As Collective Shout notes, some of Playboy’s films “depict women enduring body punishing and violent sexual acts for men’s sexual pleasure”. Some of their films have titles that are sickeningly degrading of teen girls and women. I encourage you to sign Collective Shout’s petition demanding that Diva stop selling the Playboy line. Just to give you a heads-up, if you’re under 18 or sharing this with girls, some of Playboy’s film titles are mentioned on the petition, and they ain’t pretty. It is clear from the titles alone that this brand sells material that denigrates women and treats them as objects.

4. Criticism of Playboy isn’t a new thing. Writer and feminist Gloria Steinem exposed the truth of the Playboy Bunny’s life when she wrote a magazine article after going undercover to work at the Playboy Club almost 50 years ago. It wasn’t glamorous. It was badly paid, exploitative and denigrating. She pretended to the woman interviewing her for the bunny job that she had been a secretary. The interviewer looked at her and said, “Honey, if you can type, why would you want to work here?”

5. Playboy is not about women expressing their sexuality. It’s not about liberation. It’s about making money from women’s bodies. This marketing line on the Playboy site sums it up, really: “Get all these girls for 1 low price!”

Don’t be surprised if some girls seem hostile to criticism of the Playboy brand. Many teens see a brand almost as an extension of themself. They can be incredibly loyal because they have invested (quite literally) so much in a brand. One girl wrote on Diva’s page: “I personally own almost everything playboy and love the brand. In fact the phone case on this iPhone is playboy and the handbag on my knee is playboy.” To put this into context, this generation is the most brand aware in history. For instance, the average teenager in the United States has 145 conversations about brands each week.

And the fact that a girl is a loyal Playboy fan right now doesn’t mean she will be forever. At various points in my early teens, I thought the ultimate career would be supermodel or Playboy bunny. Then along came Naomi Wolf . . .

What I’m saying is, no matter how Playboy-saturated girl world currently seems, all hope is not lost. Our protests do count and we can make a difference.

We need to tell retailers it is not okay to steal our girls’ childhoods just to make a buck. The Diva website has a button on its Facebook page that says “We love your feedback” – so let’s give it to them! Add your voice to the debate going on right now on Diva’s Facebook page.

Many people have made compelling arguments on Facebook and I want to share with you Simone Patterson’s, which is very revealing of the company’s decision to keep the Playboy products on store shelves despite the possible consequences on girls:

I spoke on the phone with the GM (general manager at Diva) today, I asked her if she would agree that there core demographic was tween or girls aged around 8 – 13. She replied that yes, it was . . . Amongst many other things, I asked her to consider that what a child sees online, when they google playboy, as a result of seeing it in their beloved diva store, would be their 1st introduction to porn, and how did she feel about that. Her reply, ‘that would be regrettable.’

So far, the company doesn’t seem moved to do anything about the possible effect Playboy branding has on their young customers. The company tweeted this over the weekend: “We understand Playboy is not for everyone and we are sorry if you take offense to the new range but lots of our customers love it!” (Basically: so long as it sells, it’s okay by Diva.)

We need to keep up the pressure on Diva. I urge you to also tell Diva’s parent company, BB Retail Capital, how you feel. They have been selling Playboy-branded products through two of their other retailers, Bras N Things and Adairs, for a while. Now with the Diva range they appear to be expanding their use of the Playboy licence. They need to be told that, as Julie Gale from Kids Free 2B Kids puts it, “any company promoting Playboy products are promoting the porn industry – it’s that simple.”

I call on other companies that sell products through Diva and BB Retail Capital’s other retailers to exert pressure, too. Does Disney really want to see their brand being marketed to girls right alongside Playboy’s?

We also need to get a conversation going with the girls in our lives and encourage them to question what the bunny represents, and what wearing it truly means. Is it a fashion statement or a walking advertisement for a porn company?

Playboy’s aggressive campaign to license out the bunny logo is working. In 2010, they halved their loss from the previous year. This was partly thanks to increasing their licensing revenue by 63 percent, to $14.2 million.

So no matter which way you cut it, wearing the Playboy bunny means helping a porn company stay in business – the business of objectifying women.

Take Action!
Sign the Collective Shout petition here.
Write to Diva here: contact@diva.net.au
Let them know what you think on Diva’s Facebook page.
Tweet them here.
Phone them: 02 9938 3311 or 1300 348 228
More contact details for Diva can be found here.

Published inAdvertisingBody ImageFashion IndustryFeminismGender stereotypingMagazinesMediaPower of WordsSexualisation of children

10 Comments

  1. Lee L

    Amazing post Dannielle – brilliantly put.

  2. Bravo! Great post and by then end you nearly had me cheering out loud. When working with girls in New Zealand I am always dismayed when I see the Playboy pencilcases and the playboy pillows that the girls bring. Yes, 10 year old girls snuggling up on their very own Playboy pillow. Girl are VERY brand-aware these days – they are the ideal demongraphic to market a product to, and a fantastic demographic to profit off. The vast majority of girls have no idea about Playboy, beyond what they see is a cute little bunny. When I explain to them exactly what this bunny represents, girls are dismayed and horrified. I am disgusted that Diva is now marketing Playboy products to girls, but I am also delighted at the furore this has created. It is great to see the conversations and the outrage by many. It is a fantastic opportunity for parents and teachers to instigate a conversation about Playboy with their girls. Thanks for helping to get the message out there Danni!

  3. I think many of us can be indifferent to the extent which products and ideas are marketed and the far reaching effects. I have gone from indifferent, wouldn’t buy that crap anyways, I have no chidren of my own to this is not right and realising that my neice and other are their market. It’s not something I want to see happen.
    Thanks for enligtening me Dannielle and others

  4. Well Said Danni!
    Unless we have real conversations that unpack the highly toxic messages surrounding these brands, our girls (and boys) will simply buy this merchandise without fully understanding the digraceful companies and practices behind them. A few years ago, I had to have a frank conversation with my then 11 year old son as to why it was not appropriate to purchase a pencil case or similar item with the Playboy bunny on it. He seemed really shocked an horrified as I explained the symbol as well as I could for an 11 year old. I am happy that my children understand the appalling use of the symbol, but MANY do not! As an educator, I see how companies push their logos daily on unsuspecting tweens and it is so wrong!
    Thanks for raising your voice loud and strong Danni. You do US ALL PROUD!!!

  5. Excellent post Danielle! A couple of years ago Kids free 2B Kids got Girlfriend magazine to stop advertising Playboy products (they were also giving away free’ Playboy t-shirts.) I told them they were grooming young girls to wear the major brand of the Pornography industry. Exctly what Diva are doing!
    BB retail have now managed to get prominent advertising of Playboy in most major family shopping centres. The windows of Adairs and Bras n things are increasingly full of objectified & sexualised images of women in Playboy products….serving to desensitise young girls and boys even more about the brand. This ever increasing creep of p-rn into mainstream advertising and pop culture is harming children and teens. As long as BB Retail continue to market this brand in stores and locations that children and young teens frequent (and have a right to be in without exposure to adult sexualised concepts) – then they are perpetrators of that harm.

  6. Kylie Nixon

    A well written article Danni! Great job. Good point about getting other companies on board i.e, Disney.

  7. Nikki Davis

    Danni you have really said it all here as have all the great comments so far. We are doing our girls a huge injustice if we sit by and let Playboy and Diva market a p-rn brand as though it’s no big deal. We cannot be indifferent to this symbol permeating our world… otherwise what will be next in mainstream culture? I dread to think! I have signed the Collective Shout petition and have sent it on to many of my girlfriends who have signed it too. I am off now to write to Diva!

  8. Storm Greenhill-Brown

    Great post as always Danni! I am so dismayed by this but it is all about education. The bunny looks cute and is always bright pink and shiny. Many little girls are totally unaware of what industry is behind those ears. Girls are brand savvy but only to an extent. They don’t always have the tools to deconstuct the hidden agendas, sometimes girls are just uncomfortable by an image but can’t discuss why. It is only when we unpack and reveal what’s hidden do many girls have a big moment of astonishment and then they get angry at being fooled. I’ve signed the Diva petition and will contact them through their Fb page as well. Many voices will make a change.

  9. Francesca

    I’m so sick and tired of that playboy bunny being slapped all over our tweens by retailers just looking to make a quick buck! Good on you Danni for calling them on their poor choice. How young is too young to be introduced to the Playboy concept and is this a conversation we really want to be having? NOOOO! I know for a fact that very young girls like to walk into Diva. My daughter is only 5 and is drawn to all the pink and the sparkly walls laden with jewels. We have even found a few cute Disney inspired bracelets in there in the past. It seems Diva believes sex sells over princesses. The Bunny rules the Diva kingdom now! Good on you Collective Shout, I’ll be signing your petition. I hope Diva Execs listen. Drop the raunch, respect women and raise the barr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Skip to toolbar