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Mom protests lingerie posters

Woman wants Victoria’s Secret displays gone

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PROVO — A Utah County mother who says her 6-year-old son was adversely affected by window displays at a Victoria's Secret store in Provo wants the posters taken down.

The woman, Tina Rivera, says she had ignored the displays at the lingerie store until her son stopped while shopping with her and "ogled" at a picture of a topless woman wearing string bikini underwear and covering her breasts with her hands.

She said she realized at that point she had become "desensitized" to what she considers soft-core pornography.

"I think it's pretty graphic — it's very graphic," Rivera said. "I consider it pornography because she was naked and had a sexually alluring pose."

Rivera passed out fliers during America's Freedom Festival at Provo's parade on the Fourth of July encouraging people to sign a petition asking the store to remove its window displays. She also asked management at local Victoria's Secret stores to remove the posters. She says she was referred to corporate headquarters, where she left several phone messages that have not been returned.

Anthony Hebron, a corporate spokesman for Victoria Secrets, said the company will not take the signs down although they "respect the opinions of others."

Management at both the Provo Towne Centre Mall and University Mall in Orem said they can do little to get Victoria's Secret to remove the signs.

"I could encourage them, but legally I don't have the right unless they are in violation of city ordinance," said Rob Kallas, University Mall manager. "If they cross the line we would take action."

Kallas, who said he gets one complaint a week from customers upset about Victoria's Secret window displays, said in the last 20 years he has been asked to remove items from stores deemed offensive by city attorneys. Those stores are no longer in the mall.

Provo city attorneys recently asked the owner of a local bookstore to make sure minors didn't have access to materials some customers had found offensive.

"If we feel it is objective as defined under state code we would become involved," City Attorney Gary McGinn said. "People have been successful working with stores and management to have materials removed that they deemed offensive."

Even if the city does not become involved, Rivera remains optimistic. She believes that with 100,000 signatures she can persuade Victoria's Secret to remove the posters.

"Why is it that our society can develop a ratings system that allows parents to know what movies are appropriate for their young children, and yet there are no ways for us to prevent our children from seeing lewd and sexual images as they walk down the street," she said.

Management at the Victoria's Secret in the Provo Towne Centre mall said they get posters monthly from corporate headquarters and are required to display them.

One employee said it is hard to sympathize with Rivera because most people who work at the store are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said the store "won't do a blasted thing."


E-MAIL: jhyde@desnews.com