Calvin Klein’s latest provocative advertisement has generated a decent amount of discussion on blogs and in the media outlets. Their new billboard looms over New York’s upscale Soho neighborhood and depicts four half dressed teens (one girl and three young men) in what is obviously the beginning of a sexual encounter. My initial thought about this ad campaign is that I’m not surprised. After all this is the same organization that has been titillating denim shoppers for years starting with their scandalous Brooke Shields ads in the early 1980’s.


While I think that Calvin Klein bears responsibility for the content of their advertising, I find it interesting that very little is being said about the city of New York and the obviously inappropriate images that are allowed to be on display in their local neighborhoods. I find it even more interesting (or alarming) that I have read just as many comments in favor of the billboard as I have against it. More evidence that the definition of what is acceptable or appropriate in our culture is continuing to erode.


So what does all of the fuss over Calvin Klein mean for us as parents? Thanks to all of the additional publicity that this board has attracted, our children won’t need to be walking down Houston Street to see it. The image is everywhere. What a great opportunity to discuss our values with them. There is a message here for both our sons and our daughters that I think we need to deliver.


The Every Mans Battle book series does a great job differentiating what is biblically acceptable from what is considered culturally acceptable. We are called to adhere to a standard of biblical purity that is often challenged by what society, or in this case Madison Avenue, has deemed appropriate for consumption. Parents, share that with your sons. Reinforce in them that even though ‘the world’ says that images degrading and sexualizing young girls are alright, the bible is clear about lust and warns us to not conform or lower our standards. 

As a mom of a 17 year old girl, I am acutely aware of the pressures that teenage girls face to be accepted. Unfortunately acceptance by today’s standards often means compromising morals. The message of this ad, and many similar images in pop culture, is that girls will gain acceptance when they allow themselves to be sexualized. Parents, especially fathers, talk to your daughters. While we can’t be responsible for every image or message that they are exposed to, we are responsible for equipping them to deal with it, and maintain biblical purity when they see them. 

What do you think of Calvin Klein’s new ad campaign and how do you plan to discuss it with your children?