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JC Penney Insults Girls' Intelligence With Dumb T-Shirt

By amywindsor |

 JC Penney's Offensively stupid t-shirtI don’t even know where to start with this awful t-shirt that is currently for sale at JC Penney. I think an exasperated sigh will have to be just the beginning of the tirade that I want to pour down on the thoughtless tween apparel buyer who thought this shirt was a good idea when they added it to their inventory list for the 7-16 year old girls’ department.

Because… REALLY?! Really, JC Penney?!? This is what passes for an acceptable graphic tee for our little girls in 2011? Really??

I thought the American public and blogosphere were predictable enough in their outrage over such touchy subjects, like the intelligence-to-looks ratios of their daughters, to keep manufacturers more on their toes about things like this. 

In a society that is already permeated with the over-importance of how good you look, we do not need any t-shirts like this one, no matter how silly, harmless or vacant it may seem, on our little girls. Period.

Since we’re talking about looks, though, I feel compelled to add that I feel like I must be looking at something from the 80s, because this shirt’s fug factor is through the roof. Moreover, seeing as more girls are now graduating from college than boys, I’d say the girls of the 80′s would’ve countered this kind of ridiculous statement-T with a resounding “Girls RULE, Boys drool.” Do you think that JC Penney is aware that 57% of college graduates are girls now? I’m guessing they didn’t do their homework

As a little reminder of past PR nightmares for stores that thought this kind of shirt was a good idea, see Hollister’s grand misstep with these rotten t-shirts they put on their shelves in 2007. At least the JC Penney shirt is just dumb, not crossing some kind of jailbait line of decency.

Hollister's bad idea shirts for tweens, circa 2007.


You can see other obnoxious t-shirts for kids here, but I doubt they will piss you off half as much as this JC Penney one did.

************* UPDATED 12:27 EST Aug 31, 2011 *************

In response to the many comments of dismay pouring in to their facebook page and the birth of the twitter hashtag #PutThatOnATShirtJCPenney, JC Penney has made a statement via their facebook page stating:

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 you and all of our customers and are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that they have come to expect.

Are you going to forget that this happened and go back to thinking that JC Penney is all about upholding the integrity of their merchandise? Personally, I think I’m going to hold a grudge on this one for awhile… Not just because of the shirt, but because the description for the shirt, which went like this: ”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.” Ugh.

For back-to-school clothing free of slogans, check out these great clothes under $50!

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About amywindsor



Amy Windsor is an avid mommy blogger whose blog, Bitchin' Wives Club, was named one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs in 2012. She was a contributor to Babble's Parenting channels.

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39 thoughts on “JC Penney Insults Girls' Intelligence With Dumb T-Shirt

  1. Lisa Rae @ smacksy says:

    Holy hell!

  2. LOL it is such an ugly shirt!


  3. Whatevs says:

    Wow. Ugly AND stupid.

  4. Melissa says:

    The shirt is ugly, offensive and wrong. Seriously, this was an easy one. You’d think.

  5. Janice says:

    As a mother and a teacher, this shirt is wrong in so many levels! And you’re right, the shirt looks so out of fashion anyway, why did they put it on the shelf?

  6. Shandeigh says:

    I don’t know why people are wigging out about it. If you don’t like it… don’t buy it. Easy fix.

  7. Kelly says:

    Are we sure some buyer didn’t just find a box of these lying around left over from 2 decades ago, cause this certainly looks like one of the horrible 80′s things I wore at that age!

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Kelly I think this shirt would be funny if it was Spuds MacKenzie saying it!

  8. Bresponsible says:

    I think it’s a horrible shirt. I completely do not agree, however, with the author thinking I would find it more inappropriate than the Hollister t-shirts. I’m sorry, but what mother or father would allow their child daughter to wear a shirt that read, “the twins are quite a handful’, or ‘i love the woody’. All are disgusting and degrading, but that is so far over the top.

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Bresponsible Just to be clear, what I said in the post is that “at least the JC Penney shirt is just dumb” — I find the Hollister shirts much more offensive than this one. This one is just… dumb. It offends me by merely existing in this day and age, when companies should know better than to make this kind of mistake because they should know that their audience/target market is going to find it offensive. AND because of it’s reinforcement of the pretty vs. smart stereotype. ;)

  9. Lauren says:

    Ok, don’t see the big deal in this. It would have been a lot better if it had said “I’m too pretty to do homework, so I flirt with the school nerd, so he’ll do it.

  10. ker says:

    Don’t buy it of you don’t like it… Seriously going to ban a store for a shirt? Get over it

  11. bwsf says:

    I sincerely hope I never have a daughter. Society has it out for them before they’re even born. Sheesh.

  12. Desirea says:

    really your gonna bitch about a stupid shirt u guys need a life there are other important matter not some shirt who cares if u dont want your kid to wear it dont buy it stop getting your panties in a twist over a shirt.

  13. Kimberly says:

    I am with the other person that said if you don’t like it then don’t buy it. OMG people, is this all you have to do is get online and complain about a shirt that says I am to beautiful to do my homework, so I’ll let my brother do it. Don’t you want your daughter to think she is! If I had a daughter I would, but I don’t. God blessed me with 2 sons. You guys need to get a life and move on, let me tell you!! I would complain about the girl that are going to school half dressed. Go complain to the principal about that!!! Not this shirt!!!! Maybe some of the others, yes I would complain about, but this one passes in my eyes….MOVE ONE!!!

  14. Leigh D says:

    Clearly Penny’s will pull the shirt if this goes viral….I wonder if they will destroy or donate….not sure which is worse-especially considering the likely recipients of said donation…..

  15. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    The hell?!?!?

  16. Andrea says:

    The shirt is truly stupid, and I agree with a public shaming campaign. What worries me is taking it to the next level: let’s make it illegal. Uhm, let’s not. Complain, sure. And the best possible action: DON’T BUY IT! Problem solved.

  17. Christine says:

    I wouldn’t let my daughter wear it…although she is too pretty…but she’s also very smart too! But, no I would not buy it. There was a t-shirt at Kmart in the girls section sizes 4T+ that said “I recycle boys”….and I thought who would buy that? And I think that’s what it comes down too…if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. I didn’t buy fish net tights for my daughter either because of what people would think or say…there are many types of articles of clothing that is inappropriate for girls to wear without having an actual message written on it.

  18. Darlene says:

    I definitely won’t buy it for my daughters along with all the stupid shirts that say “It’s all about me”. “I’m a princess”, etc….They put stupid stuff out there and keep doing it because people keep buying it.

  19. Adrian says:

    Well, it’s amazing how noisy and hysterical some people get over a t-shirt and its ridiculous slogan. Granted, this isn’t the wisest choice of phrasing, but really? It’s kinda funny, actually. Any brother who grew up with an older sister knows the older sister tries to get away with this sort of behavior (doing homework, etc.). I think it’s lighthearted and really ought not to be taken so damned seriously. That having been said, most of those t-shirts in that inappropriate t-shirt photo are pretty bad. Like, really bad. Except, however, for the one on the far left: “girls just wanna have sun”. How in heck is THAT offensive? My wife LOVES the sun, and would much rather spend the day in the sun with a good book than marking students’ papers. So, I don’t get it.

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Adrian I find the sun incredibly offensive because it burns me when I stay out in it too long. And causes cancer! ;) I jest, just about the sun being offensive, though. The rest is totally legit.

  20. srjudge says:

    I think the difference between this shirt and the Hollister shirts is intended audience. I’m guessing the Hollister buyers, as misguided as they were, created the shirts for a egotistical, sex obsessed 20s market. The shirts are gross, but were created for dumb adults. The Penney’s shirt however was targeted to parents for their daughters—yuck, yuck and yuck.

  21. K5Learning says:

    It’s sexist and it devalues education. In a world where so many of us try to make a positive contribution to building self-confidence in young women and bring positive messages about education for both girls and boys, it takes just one wrong move, like this one, to bring it all back to the surface.

  22. The_PPLS_Advocate says:

    I don’t think it offensive. I have seen shirts that are alot more offensive. If you don’t like it do not buy it.

  23. Allie says:

    I’m usually for the “if you don’t like it, don’t watch/buy/support it” attitude, but I think this shirt deserved the outrage. The only place I could see this shirt being worn is on an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, and most of those people are a lost cause anyway. I think the ickiest part for me is that there are probably lots of little girls out there wearing this not because they believe the message, but because the person buying them the shirt did.

  24. Karen says:

    Those Hollister shirts are a hundred times worse.

  25. Bunnytwenty says:

    Is it just me, or does it seem obvious that Penney’s decided to sell these shirts just for the publicity? I mean, a lot of stupid people seem eager to defend them, so hey, more sales for a store that nobody has cared about for like twenty years. Seems like a slam-dunk to me.
    (And obviously, anyone who would buy this for their child hasn’t thought this through very well. You do realize that if your child is pretty, you’re telling her she’s dumb, right?)

  26. Erin says:

    This kind of crap makes me GLAD I have a daughter because I have the honor of raising her to respect herself and her abilities. I am thrilled that she will grow into a woman that gives the finger to this kind of nonsense. Well… if I have anything to do with it. My parents raised me to laugh at and dismiss the type of attitude portrayed on these shirts, and I certainly do. It makes me feel that I can instill the same values in my daughter. If I have a son someday I will instill those same values in him.

    I have heard statements from parents of little boys to the effect of, “I’m glad I don’t have a daughter, because [fill in latest JCPenney or Hollister-esque misstep].” I think this is the wrong attitude. Well, I know it is. If these parents are disgusted by things like this, as they should be, then it is their responsibility, every bit as much as it is the parents of daughters’, to teach their sons that this is wrong. We all need to be on the same page here. Neither men nor women benefit from a society that tries to influence girls to be vacuous creatures who do nothing for themselves. What self-respecting man wants to be married to THAT?

  27. Julie says:

    Really… it is a shirt not the end of the world. There are more important things to worry about like our country, men/women in the service, kids going hungry, people losing jobs etc. If you have this much time to complain about a shirt then you need to get a life and stand up for the important things… Family… God…. Our Country!!!!

  28. Confucius says:

    You people are so pathetic to think this shirt is so terrible. I personally apologize for you being such a lonely waste of skin. I pity your kids and hope you can find work very soon

  29. Allie says:

    @Julie: Taking the time to complain about someone complaining about a shirt must take away from all time you spend standing up for the important things in life.

  30. Erin says:

    Is the fact that it’s on a shirt what makes people not take it seriously? If there was a billboard in front of your kid’s school that said, “Listen Up, Girls: You are to pretty to do homework, so let your brothers do it for you,” would that offend people enough? It’s the message people, not the medium, that is offensive. Nobody is taking issue with shirts. They’re taking issue with what is ON this shirt.

    And personally, I find the medium offensive too, for what it’s worth. This is a short to be worn by girls, and they’d wear it in school. It’s just as bad, or worse, than the hypothetical billboard, if you ask me.

  31. Jenna says:

    I see a lot of stupid shirts… the fact that there’s one more in the world doesn’t really get my panties in a bunch. And as for holding a grudge against Penny’s, they made a bad move and appologized for it when they realized people were offended… in my book that’s the right way for them to have handled it. We’ve all made thoughtless decisions, I wish we all appologized and admitted it afterwards like they did.

  32. grace says:

    I actually thought it was kind of funny.

  33. gracegirl says:

    Are you freaking kidding me? All this over a t-shirt. It is a joke!!! It is not meant to devalue education, or emphasize the importance of looks, nor is it a marketing tool JC Penneys thought up. There are more important things to get pissed off about other than a t-shirt that no one is forcing you to buy. Those of you bitching the most are probably ugly or stupid or both!! Get a life!!

  34. Denise says:

    Wow, I think its obnoxious how many people are yelling at everyone for being outraged by this shirt. I get it, you think its petty. But how did we get to this point that manufacturers are making T-shirts like this and actually selling them? Because no one said anything about it. The point isnt just the shirt – its the downward spiral of our culture and how we have come to a point where a store can actually sell shirts targeted to minors that are explicitly sexual or degrading. And its because people like you say “don’t worry about it” that has let them get away with it. I dont even want to take my children clothes shopping, EVER, because of the trash that is being sold to them. We have sexualized young girls in this culture in every way possible and it is DISGUSTING. If no one says anything about it, it will just keep happening.
    And if you think that a shirt like this, or this attitude for that matter, doesnt hurt anyone, check out the statistics on sex-trafficking in this country and child pornography and then tell me that there isnt a problem with the sexualization of children in this culture.
    The people who disgust me are the ones who can read trash on a shirt like that and NOT see a problem with it!

  35. Denise says:

    And seriously, why do you all have to be so completely nasty about it? Like @Confucious saying that the other commenters are a waste of skin and to get a job? and @Gracegirl (which, by the way, your name is an oxymoron to your comment – what kind of grace are you sporting?) who says that those complaining are ugly, stupid or both . . . seriously? Does this make you guys feel better to bash other people online just because you disagree with them? You want the other commenters to get a life but you are doing the SAME thing . . . wasting time commenting on a blog post about t-shirts. If you really don’t care about it, why are you even posting something?

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