It’s probably safe to assume that at some point during the last couple of days you probably saw on the news or read online about the incredibly sexists shirt that was being sold at JCPenney stores. The shirt said, "I'm too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me." The shirt was made for girls ages 7 – 16. It’s a horrible message to send to any girls at any age, but even more so for girls in that target age. The description of the shirt on the JC Penney website was even worse, "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."
The huge buzz surrounding the story ended Wednesday after JC Penney wisely released the following statement and pulled the shirts, "JCPenney is committed to being America's destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the 'Too pretty' t-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 our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect."
The thing that got me was that someone at JCPenney gave the OK for this T-Shirt at all. As I followed the buzz online myself, posting and discussing it via my personal Facebook page as well as the SheHeroes page and the various blog posts that were popping up almost immediately, I couldn’t help but notice that I didn’t one person who thought this shirt was OK. Men and women who were making comments and taking part in discussions, all agreed it was a terrible message.
The fact that this message was so instantly seen as wrong, by so many people was eye opening to me. Though it is a shame to think companies like JCPenney actually put out such merchandise, there is a silver lining in the widespread public disdain for the message. Maybe stores like JC Penney have a hard time understanding how disturbing and hurtful sending that message is to our girls, but if the reaction of parents across the U.S. is any indication than maybe, just maybe, the general public is getting it.
Maybe each time we tell a store like JCPenney to stop selling messages like this to our daughters, AND they listen we are actually contributing to the nest generation of girls who won’t hear these messages. A generation of girls who grow up never questioning their own worth or ability to do anything they want to do.
And that they don’t ever need their brother to do their homework for them.