Sep 02

“Too Pretty To Do Homework” Shirt – TOO STUPID To Know Better!

TOO PRETTY To Put Up With This Crap; TOO EMPOWERED To Stay Quiet 

Have you told your 7-year-old daughter that she’s STUPID today?

No worries. Why not let a t-shirt do it for you?

Hold on just a sec.

Let me fix my hair, check my lipstick and adjust my own tight t-shirt.  Because clearly that’s the only thing we dumb neophytes of intelligence are really worth.

At least it’s the message of yet another product targeting the tween-set.  This time, the only things lasting are outrage and public backlash.

The center of the storm?  A shirt for sale in J.C.Penney’s  back-to-school clothes – the prime target: tween girls ages 7-13.

But, instead of starting a fad, it created a firestorm.

C’mon. Seriously, how STUPID can you get?

Check it out for yourself:

"I'm Too Pretty to do Homework so my Brother has to do it For Me."

Maybe the better question:  How STUPID, SEXIST and demeaning can you really get?

Why not – let’s just go ahead and print the subversive message it sends to young girls:

Hey Sweetie: Stop Trying! Your ability to think for yourself doesn’t exist – you are only valued for your physical beauty, so you might as well give up even trying.  Let a BOY with BRAINS figure it out for you.  Because face it: Beauty AND Brains? Those are mutually exclusive.  You can’t possibly be pretty AND smart. 

WHO’s really stupid here?

Thus began the T-Shirt Tantrum.

The social media world was set on fire and lashed out!  Rampant messages of outrage spread throughout social networks within minutes.

The other rapid-fire response?   The whiplash reaction of company corporate gurus. It was yanked off the website and no longer for sale. Duh? Really?

Leaving a PR ramshackle for execs to untangle.

The instantaneous tweets, updates and power-blogger posts reverberated in shockwaves across THOSE IN THE MOST POWER.  Yep, the department store’s pretty little MONEY-HONEYs:…causing the sound of a  HUGE target-market being sucked down the drain.

The piss-off factor raged in the uber-powerful and massive MOM market.

The ones, you know,  BUYING your clothes.  The market that controls 8o % of the household purchases , 85% of brand purchases online and spends more than $3.7 trillion annually on consumer goods and purchases.


Yes. The decision-makers CRUCIAL to many retailers’ success.

J.C. Penney’s Corporate pulled the shirt, and released this :

“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.”

Let’s be honest. It’s NOT  the only sexist ‘T’ out there.  And it won’t be the last.

But not since Mattel’s gaffe with Teen Talk Barbie (“Math class is tough!”) has a big-name retailer market an item to girls that so explicitly and blatantly associates intelligence with boys, and looking pretty with girls.  Even the images on it add up and equal a big mess.  Check out the graphics on it: Mathematical elements  — fractions, an equation of 4 x 6, which clearly — to girls — is only one giant “?”

I mean, why bother with that whole homework stuff – when you can be pretty? School work — that’s boy stuff! Never mind the girls who like school, and gain a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, and self-worth from acquiring and mastering new information and skills. Let alone, seek an education.

And, since the little sex-bombs-to-be don’t do homework – y’know, busy being ‘too pretty’ and all – they may not ‘get’ the subtle unpinnings within the message. Resulting in fake, alternative t-shirts blasting a more direct moniker adding salt to Penney’s PR open-wound:

Mommy's Little Pole Dancer

and how about this one:

Speling Givs Me Hedakes

And here’s a good one we can add to the mix that I thought up.. (I KNOW – I had to work really hard – y’know not having any brains and all)… it goes like this:

No Brains? No Worries, There’s Always Boobs.

Truly, the real boobs in this case:  the ones who cleared the message, the buyers and merchandisers who included the shirt, those in marketing that thought including the Justin Bieber tie-in was clever- and yes, the ones in charge who signed off on it – and anyone else along that way that thought it was okay – and hey, maybe even a little funny.

Included beyond that:  anyone – male OR female consumer- BUYING the t-shirt before it was yanked off the website.

Let me be crystal clear on a couple things:

  1. I LIKE J.C. PENNEY.  In fact, I buy my children clothing there.  Often. (Thanks for the 7-Slims.) And -I’ve spent LOTS of money there.  Consider it a ‘go-to’ for basics. And now, based on the immediate response to this PR gaffe, will CONTINUE doing so.  I believe in the company, the quality of their clothing, the customer service, and the basis of their typical standards. And,
  2. No mistaking here, and to clarify:   This is NOT a male vs. female issue. Not a feminist stance.  It’s not a chance to stand-in-our-pretty-high-heels-and-burn-our-bras opportunity.

Is it an innocent, no-harm-no-foul shirt?  All much-ado-over-nothing?  Just a funny girl’s t-shirt?

No, it’s not funny.

It’s not cute.

But it is harmful to young girls, their self-esteem, and the fundamental basis of how they’re valued.

As a mom of 3 boys, I wouldn’t let them wear a t-shirt on the playground sporting an equally offensive message.

Say…something like :

Wanna play with my BIG Truck?


You Like Me Because I’ll Be Your Boss Someday


Can’t Wait To Get You In The Backseat In 10 Years

 Get with it. Somebody dropped the ball.  Male, female, who’s to say? Frankly, who cares. But somebody screwed up.  Big time. Allowing a continuing message that denigrates cultural expectations for gender.  Hampering and undermining all of us a result.

How about messages that EMPOWER girls for their intelligence, their ability, and skills.  Enabling and inspiring them to achieve whatever it is they want instead of the limiting message they’re taught through mass-marketing stereotypes.  EMPOWER a generation of strength, courage, intelligence and power.

Oh, and RETAILERS:  when it comes to the BUYING AND PURCHASING PLAYGROUND? Yeah, that whole revenue thingy-ma-bob.

Don’t piss us off.

If you do? The message on the blinged-out t-shirt ‘MOM-Nation’ will be sporting:


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