RSS
J.C. Penney's 'egregious' 'Too Pretty to Do Homework' shirt
The mass retailer hocks a shirt suggesting that girls can't be both beautiful and smart — and gets slammed for the regressive message
J.C. Penny starts the school year off on the wrong foot with a girls' t-shirt that plays into the gender stereotype that boys are smart while girls are merely pretty.
J.C. Penny starts the school year off on the wrong foot with a girls' t-shirt that plays into the gender stereotype that boys are smart while girls are merely pretty.
J.C. Penny
T

he image: Is sexism on sale at J.C. Penny? That's what many outraged bloggers are saying after the retailer's website promoted a girls' back-to-school t-shirt that perpetuates gender stereotypes. The long-sleeved shirt reads, "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." (See image below.) Available in girls sizes 7-16, it was marketed to adolescents with the question, "Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out?" Earlier today, the "egregious" product was marked down from an original price of $16.99 to $9.99, but has since been pulled off the website entirely. J.C. Penney released a statement this afternoon conceding that the shirt doesn't "deliver an appropriate message."

The reaction: Not since Teen Talk Barbie (who famously chirped "Math class is tough!") has a mass retailer marketed a product to young girls that "so explicitly associates intelligence with being a boy, and looking pretty with being a girl," says Jenna Sauers at Jezebel. It's appalling that this "intellectually crippling" message didn't raise a single red flag in the apparently incorrigible J.C. Penney corporate hierarchy. Though the shirt was "clearly meant as a joke," says Tim Nudd at AdWeek, the implication that being smart isn't attractive or cool "won't fly in this day and age." See the offensive (and garish) shirt for yourself:

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week