Girls are too pretty to do homework, says this JC Penney shirt

This has been doing the rounds on Twitter today.

Nothing like a nice bit of gender stereotyping on your kid’s clothes, is there? Hey, girls, forget about working hard and achieving something with your life! Leave that to the boys, instead! You are TOO PRETTY to worry your cute little head about such things. Also: OMGJUSTINBIEBER!!!!!

And, OK, sure, we know it’s just a shirt. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously, and it’s not like your smart little 7-16 year old is going to pull on a shirt and suddenly turn into an airhead. Clothes aren’t THAT powerful, after all. But still: surely there are better messages to be giving our children than “as long as you’re pretty, you don’t have to be clever, tee hee!”?

This has been causing a bit of a stir today around various parenting sites, but what do you think? Storm in a teacup or a poor message to be giving the young ‘uns?

15 Comments

  • August 31, 2011

    Nell

    well, if I had a little girl, I wouldn’t buy it for her. But, having said that, it probably is just a storm in a teacup.

    And to be honest, if someone told me I could give up working for a living, I bloody well would!

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  • August 31, 2011

    Minka

    I think it is a horrible lesson to teach to your kids – that being pretty somehow makes it unnecessary to work hard to reach your goals. Maybe some find something like this shirt funny, but I think it is wrong to expose kids to such message.

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  • August 31, 2011

    maxyne baker

    Semiotics like these, as harmless as they might seem, do control and manipulate our society to an incredible degree. Anyone who has studied advertising cannot deny this.
    More importantly, teach your daughter to be critically conscious.
    We can love fashion and clothing, but we don’t have to gobble it all up.
    Not all of it is made to give us freedom, beauty and self expression.

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  • August 31, 2011

    Itzel

    I think this is in the same level as “insulting” boys by calling them girls, they might seem like nothing but they mean a lot and say even more about the people who think it’s acceptable to put it out there.

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  • August 31, 2011

    Liza Ashby

    I don’t like it. I would have hated that at that age!! I think it’s bad to say it’s OK to not do homework!

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  • August 31, 2011

    Zoe

    To me this kind of thing goes in the pile with the blue onesies that say “boob man” on them. Just gross and inappropriate. And like the kid’s Nothing Tastes as Good as Thin Feels shirt, it really annoys me that they had to be told that this is inappropriate.

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  • August 31, 2011

    Zoe

    So, JC Penney did remove that product. But to those who still want to give their daughters a distorted and sexist view of their worth and place in this world, do not despair! They have plenty others!
    http://www.jcpenney.com/jcp/X6.aspx?GrpTyp=PRD&ItemID=1aa1802&cat=girls+7-16&pcat=GIRLS&catid=81457&pcatid=77892&x5view=1&cattyp=RLE&Ne=4294957900+29+3+1031+8+18+949&NOffset=0&SO=0&CatSel=4294932515|tops+%2b+tees&Nao=21&N=4294932515&dep=GIRLS&SelDim=4294957900~&deptid=77892&PSO=0&CmCatId=77892|81457&sa=1
    http://www.jcpenney.com/jcp/X6.aspx?GrpTyp=PRD&ItemID=1c40643&deptid=77892&dep=GIRLS&catid=77894&pcat=GIRLS&SelDim=5~&NOffset=0&pcatid=77892&Ne=5+29+3+1031+8+586+18+949&N=4294939995+460+4294967031&SO=0&Nao=63&cattyp=RLE&cat=tops+++tees&PSO=0&CmCatId=external|81457|77894

    And in the Shockingly Inappropriate Category we have this:
    http://www.jcpenney.com/jcp/X6.aspx?GrpTyp=PRD&ItemID=1abfe02&deptid=77892&dep=GIRLS&catid=77894&pcat=GIRLS&SelDim=5~&NOffset=0&pcatid=77892&Ne=5+29+3+1031+8+586+18+949&N=4294939995+460+4294967031&SO=0&Nao=63&cattyp=RLE&cat=tops+++tees&PSO=0&CmCatId=external|81457|77894

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    • September 1, 2011

      Viper

      The first one is iffy. The second one I really see no problem with. Yes, it’s gender-stereotyped, but it’s not offensive or degrading. Chances are a child would not wear the shirt unless they really did like all of those things; it doesn’t have the sense of “this is what you’re SUPPOSED to like” like the first one does, it’s just declarative.

      The third one I’m on the fence about. When I looked at it, I had an innocent view of the shirt and had to consciously force myself to think of it in the context of sex to see anything wrong with it. It’s only “dirty” because people MAKE it “dirty.”

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      • September 6, 2011

        Zoe

        Yes, a seven year old wouldn’t know the perverse aspect of that shirt. But, to the adult it is fairly obvious. Which is why I find it totally disgusting.

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  • September 1, 2011

    Tali

    woha.. it always starts with just a t-shirt.

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  • September 1, 2011

    Holly

    I think this is insane. It is a shirt. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. It is not JCPenny’s job to decide the morals for the country. I don’t see people getting all up in arms over Abercrombie selling miniskirts to 12 year olds. I think this is no different. Would I biuy it for my daughter? Absolutly not. Do I think JCPenny has any obligation to remove it from their stores (which they did)? no. The shirt isn’t meant to be taken literally. It is just a play on a princess mentallity. I think the general public needs to lighten up and stop trying to push social problems on companys

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  • September 1, 2011

    Rachel Gray

    If my brother had done my homework, everybody would have gone out of their way to treat me ‘just like the other kids’ so I didn’t feel ‘different’ taking those ‘special’ classes.

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  • September 1, 2011

    Jaynie

    There is a good deal of research to suggest that people actually become stereotypes, so to speak, when they’re bombarded with them. Like if you tell a bunch of asian girls that they’ll fail a math test because girls are bad at math, they’ll do badly, but if you tell them they’ll do well because asians are good at math, they’ll do a fantastic job. The same girls, the same test — actual study. So these messages really do matter.

    I’ve been talked over by people who know less than me and told I’m too pretty to be a scientist. I’ve known women who’ve gone into the arts despite being naturals with math or physics because they’ve been taught “girls don’t do those things”. We aren’t yet at a place in our society where we can have shirts like this as a joke, because for a lot of people, it’s not a joke, it’s life.

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    • September 1, 2011

      Rock Hyrax

      It’s so depressing when I hear about this stuff still going on. When I was choosing my A level subjects a couple of decades ago I was encouraged by most people to go for languages rather than Physics (though I still got my way with Maths) – this was totally the wrong advice, and I’m convinced if I’d been male it would have been a different story.

      Perhaps they’re trying to narrow the GCSE results gap between males and females. 😉

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  • September 1, 2011

    Viper

    It’s stupid, but at the end of the day, it is a t-shirt. Social cues, standards, and adult and peer models are so, so much more influential than text on a t-shirt that it’s simply a blip on the screen. Also, kids are much more likely to view the sentiment as “my sibling can do it for me” rather than “men can do it for me,” looking at “brother” in the context of family and sibling rivalry rather than gender. The sentiment of “I’m pretty so I don’t have to work” might be a little more damaging, but seeing a message like that on a t-shirt is not likely to affect them if it’s not cemented in real life or observed in practice. Overall, it’s a storm in a teacup.

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