“Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out.” That is the product description for a girls’ 7-16 long sleeved t-shirt that JC Penney was offering for sale on its website. The t-shirt itself reads “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me.” For just $9.99, JC Penney was giving parents the opportunity to sell their girls short for a bargain price. Wednesday morning, following an uproar across social media, JC Penney appears to have removed the shirt from its website.
Tuesday night, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly, shared the link to the shirt on her facebook page. Since then, the shirt has been shared across Facebook and Twitter by parents expressing shock that the department store would be selling a shirt like this. While some people think the shirt is meant to be funny and not taken seriously, others like parenting blogger and advertising industry professional Liz Gumbinner (known as Mom 101), don’t see the humor. On Twitter, in response to another blogger, Gumbinner wrote: “How is it funny to promote to young girls that what we value in them is their looks, not their brains?”
Girls in school already face enough pressure to be pretty rather than smart. They do not need additional societal pressure or clothing to emphasize their looks and undermine their intelligence. In a guest post last fall for Care2, 12-year-old Rachel wrote about the effect of marketing pressure on girls. While parents are certainly concerned about the messages that clothing for young girls sends, the quotes in this post show that even the girls themselves are upset about the expectations that are placed on them and their peers. In conclusion, Rachel wrote:
What can YOU do about all this? You can- refuse to buy clothes that undermine girls, and try to get clothes that make you feel comfortable and beautiful. If we call do that, we can stop (Inappropriate clothes) from taking over and choking out good normal clothes that are comfy and practical! (As Shashai, 11, from Hawaii would say)
So, girls, rise up! Together, we can all create a positive image for girls and women everywhere! Feel good about standing up and saying, with confidence, Im NOT buying THAT!
If only JC Penney’s purchasing staff had as much sense as Rachel does.
JC Penney has begun replying to bloggers who expressed concern over the shirt. Jessica Wakeman at “The Frisky” received an e-mail from JC Penney Brand Communications Manager Ann Marie Bishop, which she added to her post about the JC Penney shirt. The e-mail included the following apology from JC Penney:
jcpenney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the “Too pretty” shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale. Our merchandise is intended to appeal to a broad customer base, not to offend them. We would like to apologize to customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.
What do you think? Is this shirt “cute and sassy” (as the JC Penney description read) or is it inappropriate and demeaning towards girls?
Image credit: Screen capture from JC Penney website