Experts: Discontinued T-Shirt Sent Harmful Message To Girls
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Following complaints of sexism about girls’ T-shirt suggesting that math is not among the wearer’s “best subjects,” some organizations have been emphasizing that girls can excel in math and every other subject.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, the girls’ shirts say “My best subjects” at the top and had checks in boxes next to shopping, music and dancing.
But the box next to math is blank. Underneath, it says, “Well, nobody’s perfect,” in parentheses along with a heart.
Following complaints from parents, the T-shirt was pulled from the shelves of the Children’s Place stores on Monday.
“We take feedback from our customers seriously,” the retailer tweeted. “We pulled the tshirt from our stores and express apologies to anyone we may have offended.”
The retailer tried to emphasize that it did not to set out to imply that girls are poor at math.
“This was not our intent,” the retailer said. “There are countless women… who excel in math, including our very own CEO.”
But some parents and youngsters were still weighing in with concern Wednesday about the message the T-shirt sends.
“That’s not cool,” one woman said. “We have to be very careful about the message we send.”
“It doesn’t show that girls are also great at math,” a school-age girl said.
They echoed the sentiment that filled the Children’s Place Facebook page. A Facebook user posted a photo of the shirt and a note on Sunday.
“NOT cute, Children’s Place. This is not 1953,” Rebecca Kenton wrote. “Stop making it fashionable for girls to be dumb. Parents are sick of this garbage.”
The photo received dozens of comments agreeing that the T-shirt was an example of misogyny.
“Stuff like this isn’t ‘cute’ or ‘fun’ and perpetuates ridiculous gender bias. My pre-teen girl loves Minecraft and Star Wars. She would never give a shirt like this a second look,” one man wrote. “Honestly, give designing shirts that challenge the world a try and see what happens.”
At Oh My Girls, a healthy living center for tweens in Syosset, the owner said girls of middle school age are so impressionable that stereotypical messages are harmful.
“They’re also passionate about being strong and academic and successful in life, and I think that the message is suggesting otherwise,” said Dr. Lisa Rosen, founder of the center.
Girls Scouts of Nassau County promotes math and science. Its chief executive officer said girls excel in math, but are driven away by cultural pressures.
“We want girls to know that they can be as accomplished in any of those areas they can in some of the areas that are more traditionally connected with females,” said CEO Donna Ceravolo.
There have been similar retail controversies.
Two years ago, a JCPenney T-shirt was criticized for a shirt it sold that read, “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me.” Following a petition that gathered 1,600 signatures and a campaign that went viral, JCPenney ended up pulling the shirt from its inventory.
And back in July 1992, Mattel was embroiled in controversy for its “Teen Talk Barbie Doll,” which declared that “math class is tough” in one of its 270 spoken phrases. The company announced a few months later that the doll would no longer say the phrase.
And there are shirts with alternate messages, many emphasized. A Girl Scouts shirt carries the text, “Girls can do anything.”
The Secaucus, N.J.-based Children’s Place said its T-shirts focus overwhelmingly on positive messages such as, “The future belongs to me,” and, “Keep your eyes on the goal.”
The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc. has about 1,100 stores.
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