J.C. Penney is now selling a T-shirt for girls aged 7 to 16 that says, unabashedly, across its front: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Its sale price ($9.99 down from the original $16.99) seems to indicate that people may be too smart to buy into such girl-undermining messaging. The sales pitch with the tee 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.”
J.C. Penney is not known for being all that in touch or with it, but this seems particularly egregious and Internet-rage worthy — and, as such, people are taking to Twitter to express their disgust. There’s an online petition against it circulating, too — currently it has 685 signatures.
We called J.C. Penney Corporate to get a comment on whatever possessed them to think this was a good idea. We’ll update when we hear back, but, at any rate, we expect the shirt will be made unavailable fairly soon.
Other shirts in the line include a “Justin Beaver’s Future Girlfriend” tee and a “self-esteem” tee that says “I love my best friends / girls rock / girls have more fun.”
Update: J.C. Penney has responded with the following statement:
J.C. 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.
Update 2: In a further conversation with J.C. Penney about the offending tee, Kate Coultas of Corporate Communications told us, “We are not happy about the shirt! We’re looking into it right now, to find out how it happened. It was only online, not available in stores, and we have removed it from the site.”
We asked if J.C. Penney would consider donating to a girl’s educational program, as some people on Twitter had been asking them to do. Coultas referred to J.C. Penney’s history of support to after school programs, saying, “One of the reasons we’re so outraged is that this is not what we stand for. We’ve facilitated over $100 million [in donations] over the past 10 years to support after school programs in local communities. That’s a key important message for us.”
As for what exactly happened, here, Coultas says they’re still trying to figure that out, and don’t know if there will be consequences for any person in particular. “The most important thing was to pull it off the site. We want to make sure our customers know we are very, very sorry,” she said.
The online outcry, by the way, started this morning and popped up on J.C. Penney’s radar shortly thereafter, with the customer relations team responding to numerous customer complaints. The power of the Internet, people — killing one sexist T-shirt at a time.