The world’s most offensive t-shirt reads, “I’m too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me.” The product description on JCPenney’s website says, “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.”
Um. EXCUSE ME.
With t-shirts out there spouting off things like “Future Trophy Wife,” “For Sale For 10 Karats,” and I’m Too Pretty For Math,” I have to wonder what has become of us.
I mean, my daughter is gorgeous. I mean totally flippin’ beautiful. So beautiful that modeling agents stop us in airports (and I kindly tell them she’s not for sale.) And my daughter is not just sweet, compassionate, sensitive, loving, and creative, she’s freakin’ awesome at math. At five, she’s already doing multiplication tables. And she loves doing her homework, even when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out.
What’s up with you, clothing retailers? As a parent, I struggle every day to raise my daughter with the message that her value lies within and has nothing to do with her stunning blue eyes, her California bronze skin, her slim body, and her long blonde hair. She gets enough messaging from strangers who come up to her in the grocery store and take photos of her on their iPhones in the lobby of the movie theater.
I am a beautiful woman who went to Duke University, graduated from medical school, and ROCKED calculus. I kicked butt on my SATs, graduated second in my class from med school, was nominated to the very exclusive honor society (beating out all the boys in my class for the most coveted leadership slot), and knocked my boards out of the park.
I’m pretty – and I did ALL my homework myself. So there.
And yet, when I met my former husband in medical school (who had to endure three years of failure before finally getting accepted into medical school – I got into six schools on my first try, thank you very much), his parents patted me on the shoulder when they met me and said, “You’ve landed a doctor now, honey. You can drop out now.”
WTF? I was a year ahead of him in school and top of my class! Not to mention I felt called to be a doctor. I was pursuing a life dream. I certainly didn’t apply to medical school just so I could marry a doctor. Needless to say, I had a rocky relationship with my ex-in-laws.
I did marry that guy, but he never once paid my bills – I paid his, in fact. No man has ever paid my bills for me since I left home. I bought my own diamond ring when my man proposed. And I still look hot in my little red dress at 42.
Women like me are the rule these days, not the exception. Just check out the hot movie stars who sport Ivy League degrees and write their own screenplays. Check out the gorgeous doctors and lawyers and mathematics professors. Most blondes with big boobs are not bimbos and most geniuses are not homely.
Just because you’re beautiful doesn’t mean you’re not talented, financially independent, and good at math. Yet the stereotype exists.
Why? Because of t-shirts like this God-awful one JCPenney released and marketed to girls age 7 to 16.
Fortunately (this gives me great hope for humanity), this t-shirt spawned a social media tornado.
In this article, clothing designer Melissa Wardy said, “I advocate for girls and against this kind of gender stereotyping in the marketplace. My little girl starts kindergarten tomorrow… I don’t want her to see a shirt like that on her classmate, something saying that pretty is cute and right and the academics should be left to the boys. It incorporates all of the wrong messages for girls. Why are we conditioning kids to wear something that degrades their self-worth?”
Tired of t-shirts like this, Wardy launched her own line with t-shirts that read “Pretty’s got nothing to do with it” on the front and “Redefine girly” on the back.
“There’s nothing wrong with being girly,” Wardy says. “I’m not anti-pink. I’m not anti-princess. I’m anti-limitations.”
The name Owning Pink was born 7 years ago, on my 35th birthday, when my friend was pregnant with a little girl and her husband started spouting off about how his little girl was never going to wear pink. I put my hands on my pink sundressed hips and said, “What am I? Chopped liver? You tell your daughter she just has to OWN pink.”
That’s what I’m talking about, my friends.
Fortunately, amidst public outcry, JCPenney’s removed the t-shirt from their website. (Phew!)
But it’s up to us to prevent these kinds of messages from skewing society’s view of what it means to be a beautiful girl or woman. As long as women believe their value lies in being pretty, they will suffer emotionally, limit themselves, undergo plastic surgery, get Botox, mourn menopause, cling to youth, and convince themselves that they’re worth less once they’re no longer beautiful on the outside. Which is just a travesty.
I know better. I’m not as hot as I was at 25, but I’m even more valuable. I’m wiser, more awakened, more compassionate, smarter, more talented. I just am. Who I am and why I have worth has NOTHING to do with how I look. Period.
The same is true for you.
Do You Know Where Your Value Lies?
Have you been able to recognize that your beauty really does lie within? Will you help break the stereotypes that continue to limit women? Will you be a voice that helps to heal self-worth?
We must be the change. Do your part, love.
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.