23/01/2014 07:34 GMT | Updated 24/03/2014 05:59 GMT

An Open Letter to Victoria's Secret

Ashley Clawson had just spent $150 in a Victoria's Secret when she asked an employee if she could nurse her son Beckett in a changing room. She was instructed to go out back into an alleyway where no one would see her.

I admit it. I like your underwear. I like your bras.

I like the quality. I like the fit.


I really love this new black, off-the-shoulder sweater.

But I may have to end our relationship if this article is true and how you really want your employees to act toward nursing mothers.

Ashley Clawson had just spent $150 in a Victoria's Secret when she asked an employee if she could nurse her son Beckett in a changing room. She was instructed to go out back into an alleyway where no one would see her.

So, a store that sells bras, a store that has giant-size posters hanging on their walls of voluptuous models with heaving bosoms has a problem with a nursing mother?

When Clawson filed a complaint to the brand, her reward was a gift card for $150. Really? So basically you gave her a refund on her purchases?

"Nursing advocates and moms groups from across the country--and the world--have contacted Clawson and want to stage a nurse-in at Victoria's Secret stores. Clawson simply hopes that the company will make a donation to an organization that supports breastfeeding and make new moms feel welcome.

"They have a huge demographic of new moms that they are missing out on," Clawson says. "I feel that Victoria's Secret doesn't even care... [It's] like, if you are a mom you don't have a right to feel sexy.""

Ah, this hits the nail on the head. Mothers are treated as though they are third-world citizens when it comes to feeling and appearing sexy. How dare we want to look nice and have pretty lingerie?

We should be at home barefoot and nursing.

As a just-finished-nursing mother of three children, I look back and realize I never shopped in your store when pregnant or nursing until last year. I think my husband and I were at the mall alone (not an easy feat with a 9-year-old, 5-year-old and 3-three-year old) and we stopped in and I bought a few things.

Just a few weeks ago, I stopped in to purchase some new bras since my breasts changed size after weaning my last child. I was so thrilled to see the 50% off bra sale going on.

A lovely salesperson measured me and gave me sample bras to try on. And they fit perfectly!

Of course, I was going after those twenty-dollar beauties, so I picked some out of the bins and purchased them without trying them on, since I now had my magical number written on a little Victoria's Secret card.

I noticed as I walked through the store that there were many groups of twenty-year-olds giggling and shopping. Maybe it's just my self-consciousness, but I felt like they kept looking at me and wondering what an old lady (I'm 42) was doing in their store.

I hurried to make my purchases and go home. Of course, when I did get home and found the time to try on my new bras, none of them fit. I learned the next week when I returned them that I really needed my "sister" size bra and that I must always try a bra on before buying because they all fit differently. SO much for my magic bra number.

Once again, I noticed the lack of any middle-aged women in the store. And of course, the lack of any more mature women in your advertisements.

Perhaps it is our problem--the mothers.

It's true that my most previous purchases of bras were from Target or Walmart because I could grab them on the go while I also picked up diapers and other necessary "mom" things. Going to Victoria's Secret requires a separate expedition, which is often hard to justify in time or money as a mother.

I question your business savvy though for turning your back on such a huge, potential market. We older women, we mothers, need good bras just like those twenty-year-olds. And believe it or not, we like to feel and look sexy, too.

Please consider ways to be inclusive. If you really are about celebrating women's bodies with comfort and beauty, why not reflect that in your imagery and your employees' attitudes?

Mothers do not stop being women because they have children. But we do need all the support and encouragement to be reminded we are still beautiful just the way we are.


Do you accept the challenge?