So I wasn’t surprised to read that more retailers have suffered from major foot-in-mouth or foot-in-rear syndrome as they have pressed and marketed t-shirts and other novelty items to young girls that basically tell them that it is more advantageous to focus on their looks than their intelligence. These messages also tell them that they aren’t as smart or smarter than boys, and guess what? It sends the same messages to boys who grow up to be men who think this way. Then women like myself have to deal with this ignorance throughout college and our careers. I’m in my mid-30s and I still have to prove that I’m intelligent and capable of playing with ‘the big boys’, while a man with a fraction of my intellect just needs to show up.
So what are retailers up to now? Well a few months ago it was the “I’m too pretty to do math” t-shirt by David & Goliath and let’s not forget the “Trophy Wife” t-shirt; I’m sure every parent sits back and hopes that their daughter grows up to be a trophy wife (yes, I’m being facetious). The more we struggle to break down these stereotypical images of females, the more guck and muck that flies up from companies that know better, but see the benefit of earning the buck more than doing the right thing.
So why would J.C. Penney get caught up in the cross-hairs of this nonsense with their “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me” t-shirt? I’m not sure. Obviously they missed the memo that said gender stereotyping is a big no-no. They were smart enough to pull the shirt from stores once the backlash from consumers gave them whiplash. Lesson learned? I hope so.
Here’s the crazy thing, retailers could actually make MORE money by producing and marketing positive images and messages of girls and women than they do with this other nonsense. Think of how many t-shirts you would buy for every young girl (or even boy) you know if it read, “I work hard in school so I can have the career of my dreams“, or “Need a tutor? I get A’s in Math“, or “You can have sexy, I’ll be your boss soon“. There are so many ways to show young girls and boys that being intelligent is smart and is a highly attractive quality not only for a future spouse -which they shouldn’t be concerned with until their in their 20s, (but realistically we know they obsess over as young as age 13) but also for future employment opportunities.
Of course I’ve included the link (see below) to the article that shares the J.C. Penney story and more. I’m thrilled to read in the article that entrepreneurs are jumping into the business to produce positive images and messages for our children to see and model, such as the “Pretty’s got nothing to do with it…Redefine girly” t-shirt.
If we are truly concerned with the future of our world and the children who will be tomorrow’s leaders, then we must take responsibility for the images they see and the messages they hear…we are all role models!
Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Paradigm Life.