Do Your Homework
Recently, Jezebel linked to a t-shirt on sale at J.C. Penney which reads “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Clearly, there are many things wrong with selling this message to young girls for the back to school season, starting with the idea of being “too pretty” to do anything, let alone homework. And on top of that, adding that you need to have a BOY do your homework for you?! That’s just propagating a very dangerous message of helplessness and straight gender inequality.
J.C. Penney has since taken the product down from the website, and issued this statement to The Village Voice:
J.C. Penney 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.
But is that enough? There is no attempt at correcting this message of gender stereotypes and girls being valuable for their looks, not their intelligence. This statement is especially ineffective when considering that the popular store is still selling a hot pink t-shirt which lists the “subjects I totally ROCK at” as being boys, music, shopping, and dancing.
How responsible are major retailers for selling quality clothing that reflects positive images for young men and women? Why do they continue to lean on the easy stereotypes of pink unicorns for girls and blue footballs for boys? Isn’t there a better way?
What do you think?