Judy Cox was shopping with her teenage son at the local PacSun when she furiously bought over $500 worth of t-shirts featuring scantily clad women.

Mother Offended By 'Pornographic' PacSun Display

Cox and her son walked by the University Mall in Orem, Utah, and Cox was immediately taken aback by the window display of the Visual Shirts by Van Styles. The offending t-shirts, which are available in the Men’s section, come in various colors all with a big photo of a nearly naked woman on the front display. Styles, a photographer, recently released a new collection of his Visual Shirts, focusing heavily on women in lingerie called ‘Visual Heartbreakers.'

Cox, offended by the display, went into the store and asked the manager to remove the shirts from the display. When the manager refused (all she could do was e-mail her boss with the complaint), Cox decided to simply buy all the t-shirts the store had and then return them at the end of the 60-day return window.

Cox also complained to the mall management, suggesting that they enforce a clause in the lease that forbids stores from exhibiting displays of nudity.

“This is hard to police because of freedom of speech,” said mall manager Rob Kallas.

“My intent in purchasing the t-shirts from PacSun was to remove them from the front window display. In order to do that I had to purchase the entire stock in the store.

“These shirts clearly cross a boundary that is continually being pushed on our children in images on the internet, television and when our families shop in the Mall.

“After consulting with the City attorney, and the display promotion is over, I will return the T-shirts to the store. Hopefully the message will be clear that this is not acceptable for public display in our communities.

“I hope my efforts will inspire others to speak up within their communities. You don’t have to purchase $600 worth of t-shirts, but you can express your concerns to businesses and corporations who promote the display of pornography to children,” Cox said in a statement issued Tuesday, Feb. 18.

In her statement, Cox mentions speaking with the Orem city attorney, who has the power to judge whether or not the display was violating city codes. Cox also says she would like to destroy all the t-shirts, which came to a total of $567, but her public stance is that the store violates the Orem city decency code by putting the t-shirts on display.

“If the buttocks shows without an opaque covering it’s illegal. Two of these clearly crossed the line,” Cox told KUTV.

And, while the images are no more revealing than Victoria Secret posters, Cox says that intention and context matter greatly.

“It’s [Victoria Secret] a lingerie store. You’re not going in and purchasing a shirt with a pornographic image on the shirt. People are buying lingerie,” Cox reasoned.

Cox has reportedly been in contact with the vocal conservative group One Million Moms and Women for Decency in her effort to stop the publicizing of the t-shirts. She encourages women everywhere to get involved, both on a local scale and national scale.

PacSun Will Continue Selling The T-Shirts

PacSun CEO Gary Schoenfeld responded to the controversy, dismissing any possible suggestions of a boycott and standing by the clothes, saying, “While customer feedback is important to us, we remain committed to the selection of brands and apparel available in our stores.”

Photographer Van Styles, who designs the t-shirts listed at $27.95 online, is taking the controversy in stride. In response to the controversy, Styles posted a digitally altered photo of the woman carrying the stack of t-shirts on Instagram with the caption, “In light of recent events in Utah today I figured this would make for a good design for a shirt.”

Styles also spoke about the controversy in an interview, saying that he wouldn’t classify his shirts as “pornography,” but also admitted that he did not know whether or not his shirts violated the decency code in Orem. He says his t-shirts, which do not exclusively feature photos of women – some display skylines, though most are of women in underwear – are celebrations of photography as an art form.

“I don’t expect everyone to love my photography, but that is the beauty in freedom of choice and speech. And in a land built on these fundamentals I would imagine people would be more bothered by one person saying what is good for everyone else strictly based on her opinion and interpretation,” Styles told Complex.com.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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