JC Penney T-Shirt Tells Girls It's Ok to Have Others Do Their Work if They're "Too Pretty"

Real Style on 08.31.11
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Screenshot Credit: Matador Life

It appears that JC Penney missed the memo that's been circulating for more than 50 years that women have been trying to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts. Until this morning when the backlash of the internet overcame them and they pulled the product, the company was marketing a T-shirt aimed at girls ages 7 to 16 that read "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." Why is this so wrong? Let me count the ways.

Now let me preface this by saying that I am not the type that starts screaming and shouting every time I hear someone make a comment that could be construed as anti-feminist, but I am a firm believer that gender should not stop anyone from reaching their greatest potential or dreams. I am certain that my daughter will be just as successful as her brother, and it won't be because of her good looks.

Besides the fact that this T-shirt promotes the fact that a girl can be "too pretty" to do something or that her looks should relieve her of her scholarly duties, it also teaches girls that they can advance themselves in life by using their looks. While sleeping your way to the top may once have been a common practice, brains sure do hold a lot of weight these days when it comes to advancing yourself in life and they are certainly necessary to hold a job once you get it. The concept that you shouldn't have to study because you are pretty is beyond archaic in the 21st century.

There is nothing quite like promoting illiteracy and the inability to understand math, science, history or any other subject. You only need those skills if you want to become a rocket scientist right? Even if a girl (or any kid) doesn't want to reach for the stars, the last time I checked these subjects also come in handy when it comes to making basic change at the grocery store, figuring out how to make your way from one point to another, figuring out what to do during the what now seem to be so common natural disasters, and countless, countless other times every single day of our lives, even for those who are "pretty". Oh, and then there is the whole issue about teaching children responsibility and completing the things that are expected of them, like school.

Besides the fact that I don't know why any right-minded parent would buy the shirt for their child, I'm not sure why any girl would want to wear the shirt even if she is "cute and sassy" as the selling copy reads. Last time I checked, sassy girls had to have smarts to make those sassy comments. It is shirts like this that perpetuate the stereotypes that women have been trying to break for decades. And I would be just as outraged if there were a shirt for my son that said "I'm too athletic to do homework so I have my sister do it for me." No matter what the stereotype, they need to stop being perpetuated through all mediums.

Of course, I would not let my daughter wear this shirt, but what I truly don't understand is that in a corporation as large as JC Penney, how did this T-shirt make the cut when it went through the various levels of the design department as well as all the other executives that review their lines and put them into the stores. I would guess no fewer than 20 people had to see and approve that shirt before it hit the shelves. And I can't believe that none of them raised the issue unless of course they were too pretty to do their homework and had their brothers do it for them.   

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