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Do Your Homework

2011 September 6
by Jill

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?







6 Responses Post a comment
  1. September 6, 2011

    Incredible, I can’t believe they would actually produce such a thing! Just shows how far we still have to go on the gender equality front.

  2. September 6, 2011

    woweee good thing they discontinued it!

    <3 steffy
    Steffys Pros and Cons

  3. Raquel permalink
    September 6, 2011

    Hmmm, I’d wear that shirt if it said, “I’m too smart to do homework, so I make my brother do it for me.” 😉 KIDDING.

    In all seriousness, I’m glad they pulled that shirt, but I do think it’s really gross that people still buy into this mentality that being pretty is a free ride out of having to do things for yourself, including learn. As a teen, I thought going to an all-girls school was torture, but now I realize it was an incredible gift. I came to school with unshaven legs, unplucked brows, and unwashed hair because appearances didn’t matter–in fact, it seemed like among us gals, the less you cared about your looks, the cooler you were because you had more important things to focus on, like schoolwork, volunteerism, sports, and extra-curriculars. We somehow managed to escape popularity contests (yes, there were social groups, but the boundaries were very fluid) and for that I am eternally grateful.

    I may have looked a mess, but I kicked major ass on every single report card and I was damn proud of it. I wish this were the attitude at EVERY school, co-ed or not, because it’s a true disservice to both girls AND boys, who are both taught to value looks over everything else. This is no way to raise well-rounded women OR men. We should instead value smarts, hard work, kindness, and character. Now I sound like an old fart! :)

  4. September 6, 2011

    They probably took the shirt down because no one was buying it anyway. I find it hard to imagine any mother buying that shirt for her daughter or a girl even wanting to buy it for herself.

  5. kyley permalink
    September 7, 2011


    will comment something more intelligent later. for now, just ugh.

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