Tuesday night, I stayed up way too late reading the book Think by Lisa Bloom. Think discusses the ways in which society encourages women and girls to value looks over learning – - and details ways to change this for ourselves and the next generation of girls. I finally fell asleep, still thinking about the book. I woke up on Wednesday morning inspired to start making changes in my own life and to set a good example for my young daughters.
Then I turned on the computer. I immediately saw a flood of Twitter posts about a t-shirt that JC Penney is selling to girls and young teens. The shirt reads “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me.” And the caption next to it reads “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.”
The viral Twitter postings all started when Lauren Todd saw the shirt on the JC Penney website on Tuesday night. She was shocked and immediately created an online petition against it on Change.org. From the petition:
“Under the guise of being ‘cute,’ JC Penney is promoting merchandise that encourages girls to value looks over brains; to leave academics to the boys, and to aspire to nothing more than fawning after Justin Bieber…
In a world where women are fighting for respect and equality, JC Penney is promoting a message …(telling girls that)…their brains are not valuable, only their looks, and that being smart is for boys only. This disgusting message may have been common in the 1950s, but it is 2011, and times have changed for the better. Tell JC Penney ‘I won’t shop here until you stop selling merchandise with sexist messaging.’”
By 10:20 PM, Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals, a pro-girls website and clothing company, saw a tweet about the shirt and posted it on the Pigtail Pals Facebook page. She then forwarded it on Twitter and wrote her own excellent blog in response. Immediately after that, the campaign against the t-shirt went viral, with everyone from mommy bloggers to women’s rights activists to Lisa Bloom herself (!) tweeting about the shirt.
From angry to funny, the tweets all blasted JC Penney for selling the shirt, stating that they wouldn’t shop at its stores, and using hashtags like #iamtooprettytobuyyourstupidtshirt and #iamtooprettytoshopatsexiststores.
By late morning, JC Penney removed the t-shirt from its webpage and issued an apology.* This remarkable turnaround was all due to the power of women bloggers and social media users who were able to make change happen FAST.
So I woke up inspired by Think and determined to change my own habits and encourage my young daughters. And within a couple of hours, I watched it happen. I watched women use their increasingly powerful voice through social media to bring about positive change for women and the next generation of girls.
And if you need a new shirt for your daughter, check out Pigtail Pals – they just introduced a new shirt inspired by the one that sold girls short. It reads, “Pretty’s got nothing to do with it.”
Exactly. I’ll be buying two for my little girls.
*The statement from JC Penney: “JC Penney is committed to being America’s destination for great style and great value for the whole family. We agree that the ‘Too pretty’ t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale. Our merchandise is intended to appeal to a broad customer base, not to offend them. We would like to apologize to our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.”