Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm So Pretty That I Love Stereotypes...

Well, I'd imagine someone in JCPenney's design department may lose their job...

A great deal of brouhaha in the media has ensued over JCPenney's recent decision to market a girls' t-shirt that says, "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." (Way to tell girls they're not worthy of achieving anything of consequence.) And the description of the shirt in the retailer's catalogue sends a terrific message:
"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."
Who comes up with these ideas? A few months ago, online retailer David&Goliath started marketing a t-shirt that says, "I'm too pretty to do math". And back in 2005, groups of teenage girls—and then the media—took on retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for marketing a line of t-shirts they felt degraded the girls who wore them, including shirts that read, "Who needs brains when you have these?" and "You better make more than I can spend."

After controversy erupted about the JCPenney t-shirt, the retailer removed the shirt from sale and released a statement that said, "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."

I just don't understand the thinking behind these shirts. Sure, cute and sassy might be appealing, but are these the attitudes we want to promote in preteen and teenage girls? While some say it's the choice of the parents or the girls themselves to purchase and wear the shirts, why promote messages that underachievement is cool or sexy, or it's good just to get by on your looks and sex appeal, that being smart is somehow less attractive?

I know that stereotypes exist because many people uphold them, but at the same time, not every gay person is like Sean Hayes' character on Will and Grace or Chris Colfer's character on Glee; not every Asian person takes pictures; and not every athlete is stupid. Why not embrace what makes each person different and special?

Gee, all that from a t-shirt. I guess I fall into the "Bloggers are cranky" stereotype, huh?

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