taking a stand for smart girl fashion

One of the beautiful things about social media is the ability to share interesting links with other like-minded people. Now that I’m reading more fashion-related blogs and following them on Twitter and such, I feel more closely connected to the complicated clothing industry. I don’t expect to be invited to Fashion Week anytime soon (or ever, really), but I consider myself to be semi-educated on current fashion-related events.  I don’t remember seeing either one of the t-shirts I posted below on mainstream news, but they were all over the web everywhere else.

A few weeks ago, JC Penney got into some pretty hot water for featuring a shirt for young girls that said “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Twitter and the blogosphere exploded, and the shirt was pulled from the website practically hours later (again, the beauty of social media! Who says change needs to be slow?). Of course, a spokesperson made a statement, there were apologies abound, and people forgot about it.

Forever 21 must have missed the entire ordeal, because this treat of a shirt was seen on the rack at their stores recently. Jezebel, go-to website for all things female empowerment, picked up on the story last week.

Really? Really?

Putting aside the idiocy of Forever 21 for putting out a similar shirt after the firestorm, it still leaves the question: who is buying this kind of t-shirt? Why, in 2011, is the message about homework being uncool and math being akin to a disease still selling at all? Which executives thought these shirts would be a good idea? Yes, this is coming from the girl that bought a “Mrs. Depp” shirt at Hot Topic when I was a freshman in high school. However, even then I think I bought it partly for the ironic laugh-factor, and less because I enjoyed being reduced to whatever my celebrity crush happened to be and still is.

I’m not a super-feminist, and I’m not one to tell people what they can and cannot wear. Yes, I roll my eyes when I see plainly useless t-shirts with cliche phrases that make the wearer look dumb (the biggest offender: “I’m with stupid”, you know, where there is a an arrow pointing off the shirt somewhere). But I just can’t fathom why companies like JC Penney and Forever 21 want their brands associated with shirts that belittle their consumer base. It just doesn’t make sense.

I hated math, but I was good at it. I did my homework, because that’s what you do. Shirts like these are practically shouting “I’m a girl, I’m not smart enough for math, thank you very much!”. Girls are spectacular at math and should embrace their talents. Look at Danica McKellar. And, well, girls shouldn’t have their brothers do their homework for any reason, but least of which because they’re too pretty. 

I can imagine my middle school teachers’ faces if they would have seen us walking into class with a shirt like that. I think, to spite us, they’d give the girls extra homework, and expect to see it in their own handwriting the next day as proof that they didn’t shop it out to someone else.

So to all you smart girls out there, wear clothing that doesn’t insult your intelligence, and do it with pride.

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3 thoughts on “taking a stand for smart girl fashion

  1. Thank you for writing about this! I’ve actually made the conscious decision to never shop at JC Penny or Forever 21 again because of these shirts (and others that I’ve seen on their shelves.)

    I also have to admit, the JC Penny shirt kind of cracks me up on a personal lever as well. I’m a 23-year-old undergraduate student writing research papers on gender related issues. I have two brothers and the oldest is 12 and probably trying to figure out pre-algebra as we speak. While I know that my brother is extremely smart he’s not even close to being able to do the work that I have to do as a college student.

    • You’re welcome! I rarely go into Forever 21, but was a little more upset about JCPenneys.

      I only have sisters, but the little brothers I know would NEVER willingly do their sister’s homework for them anyway!

  2. It’s onerous to search out knowledgeable folks on this matter, however you sound like you recognize what you’re speaking about! Thanks
    You must take part in a contest for probably the greatest blogs on the web. I will advocate this site!

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