Forever 21′s “Allergic to Algebra” Shirt Makes Me Ill
School’s back in session and ’tis the season for yet another t-shirt insulting girls’ intelligence. In answer to JC Penney’s “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me” shirt Forever 21 launched an “Allergic to Algebra” shirt for the teenage set. As of this writing, Forever 21′s shirt is “out of stock“; you can still see what it looks like via Gawker and the Washington Post.
It’s not yet clear if Forever 21 is actually pulling the shirt or getting ready to rake in the sales, thanks to all the publicity the shirt has garnered.
Forever 21′s anti-female-intelligence shirt takes things a step farther than JC Penney’s, suggesting not only that “girls don’t do algebra,” but that it makes them sick; that algebra — mathematics — is like pollen or peanuts, something to be avoided. Such a sentiment is simply disappointing to hear at a time when women remain underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, and thereby unable to make their way into fields that require such knowledge, from engineering to medicine to computers.
A quick review of Forever 21′s t-shirt offerings for women suggests the “subjects” deemed suitable for them. There’s the love love love t-shirt; a so so happy hugs t-shirt; a love now t-shirt; a c’est love t-shirt; a crazy love t-shirt. A shirt proclaiming la musique la vie l’art is, you could argue, somewhat “academic” — it is in a foreign language — though the subject matters noted, music and art, are those “fine arts” that women have tended to be shepherded into as they’re urged to leave the “hard stuff” (the dreaded math and science) to the guys. There is a “nerdy monster” mega geek t-shirt for those techno-girls, but the graphic on this shirt, a three-eyed creature with glasses, is not only a geek but a “freak.”
Nothing wrong with love, music and art (or French), of course. Browsing the 21 Men offerings, you can find a whole separate section of graphic tees with ecological messages, a university of success t-shirt (there is a generic university one among the women’s offerings), a shirt proclaiming the ideals of Liberty Justice Freedom.
While the “Allergic to Algebra” shirt is no longer being sold form Forever 21′s website, the other t-shirts offer a no less offensive messages. Forever 21 apparently doesn’t want women to worry themselves too much about anything aside from love. If you’re going to do the geek thing, you’re a three-eyed (albeit cute) monster.
Something tells me that more than a few women (and men) will be using their brains and choosing other options for their apparel.
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