Britney and Bristol Duke It Out for Candie's

Britney and Bristol Duke It Out for Candie's

Britney and Bristol Duke It Out for Candie's

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 8 2009 12:41 PM

Britney and Bristol Duke It Out for Candie's

/blogs/xx_factor/2009/05/08/how_can_the_candies_foundation_promote_abstinence_with_bristol_palin_while_selling_sexy_clothes_with_britney/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Bristol Palin is partnering with the Candie's Foundation , a subset of the Candie's company, to promote "abstinence" as a way to "raise awareness" and "combat teen pregnancy." Never mind that one form of awareness, of course, is the awareness that pregnancy and STD rates often drop when teenagers are educated about birth control. Or that abstinence-only education doesn't seem to make teen pregnancy rates go down. Forget all that, but consider, for a second, the cultural incoherence of launching a huge new campaign to promote abstinence when this is the home page for your clothing and accessories company. Britney looks great, but she also looks, well, highly sexualized. There's a hall of mirrors effect here worth noting: No other young female star of the past ten years at once tried to sell herself as a virginal young thing while embracing the media sexualization of her as fully as ol' Britney. (Remember when she appeared barely clad and highly waxed in Rolling Stone ?) In this sense, Britney is actually the perfect figurehead for Candie's, which is trying to have its cake and eat it too. On the one hand, the Candie's Foundation represents the company's deliberate embrace of cultural family values. On the other hand, of course, the company peddles in the same old implicit commercial messaging to girls: namely, that a girl's worth lies in her overt sex appeal, which, by the way, can really be enhanced with a fabulous new Candie's Floral Lace Thong for Juniors or this Candie's Studded Cold Shoulder Top . Then again, maybe I'm cynical, and Candie's isn't peddling teen sexuality at all. It just realized that sometimes a 15-year-old girl practicing abstinence likes to dance around in the privacy of her own bedroom in her lace-thong undies. Just like Sandra Dee.

Meghan O'Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.