Parent, Teacher, Activist
I recently shared the story about the “Too pretty to do homework” shirt with my daughters. That evening, my 12-year-old got online and read the article in Shine and on the Pigtail Pals blog as well as the comments that readers made. She was shocked at what she saw as the callous responses of some readers. When she started sharing her strong objections to the “too pretty” shirt as well as her feelings about those who said it was no big deal, I encouraged her to write a guest post for me. I think it’s vital for adults to hear what young girls are thinking and feeling about these kinds of products. Think it’s no big deal? Read on to see what a middle school girl has to say, then think again.
“Last night I got on a website called Shine to read a post about the most recent t-shirt scandal, “To pretty to do homework.” It was all fine and dandy until I read the comments that other readers had written about the article. People were saying things like, “It’s just a joke, get a sense of humor!”, “There are people starving and living in poverty out there and we have a post about a t-shirt?”, “These people are just trying to get rid of freedom of speech in the US!” and my personal favorite, “I don’t see how this is offensive.”
Let me explain something to you, all you people who agree with any of these comments above. To those who think this is a harmless joke, this 12-year-old girl is not laughing. Remember, I’m the one who this shirt is targeted to. Even if this was made as a joke, it’s not funny. The thing is, girls my age are really sensitive to messages like this. So, if we hear this sort of thing enough, we will start believing that it’s not important to do well in school if you’re pretty, or that if you’re smart you can’t also be pretty. If you still think that’s funny, a bunch of insecure girls failing classes because they won’t do their work, then you need some help. There is absolutely nothing funny about that.
Then there’s the argument that people shouldn’t be worked up about a t-shirt when there is poverty in the world. I agree that it’s important to fight poverty and world hunger. But, really, we have tabloids, fashion magazines, sites like Perez Hilton that provide shallow commentary on the lives of celebrities, and you’re complaining about this issue getting some attention? The way I see it, this is much more important than the latest celebrity hook-up.
And to those who say that Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals and others who complained about the shirt are trying to restrict you and get rid of freedom of speech, you’ve got it wrong. In fact, we are exercising our own freedom of speech by voicing our opinions about this shirt. Sure, JC Penney’s had a right to sell it, but we also have a right to say, “This product stinks.”
If you don’t understand how offensive this shirt is, then here’s the thing: This shirt is saying a girl’s value comes from being pretty, and we shouldn’t invest our time in petty things such as school and intelligence. I’m not saying I’m against looking pretty, as Melissa says, pretty has nothing to do with it. I just don’t think it’s the most important thing. And, I don’t think it’s only a guy’s job to be smart. Get it now?
I want girls to have a chance to do more than look pretty, and if that means that I have to break down this stereotype one t-shirt at a time, then so be it. Soon, the world’s going to know that there is much more to girls than meets the eye.”