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T-Shirt Travesty This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Women have fought hard throughout history to achieve equality with men. So why are retailers creating clothing that belittles women? T-shirts have recently been marketed that demean females and send the wrong message about their intelligence. Last year, J.C. Penney released a line of girls' T-shirts that read: “I'm too pretty to do my homework so my brother has to do it for me.” Why would any girl want to project this image? The T-shirt basically conveys the idea that beauty trumps intelligence and that boys are smarter than girls.

The description of the T-shirt – which was sold on J.C. Penney's website – included the quote “Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out?” Do we really want girls to think that a pop star is more important than their education?

“Allergic to Algebra” and “Skool Sucks” were adorned on shirts recently sold at Forever 21. Is it supposed to be cute that school is spelled incorrectly? A girl who wears one of these tops is telling the world that she takes pride in her ignorance, which is harmful not only to her, but to all girls.

Interestingly, T-shirts for boys that degrade boys are hard to find. Why is this just a female issue? There is no reason for girls to feel less intelligent, yet these shirts add to this misconception. Recently, more than 1,600 people signed a petition addressed to the J.C. Penney chairman and CEO that stated: “Under the guise of ‘cute,' J.C. 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.” J.C. Penney apologized and discontinued the shirts.

The fashion industry needs to take a lesson from television, where on many shows the clever girl s the cool and respected character. Penelope Garcia on “Criminal Minds,” Abby Sciuto on “NCIS,” and Temperance Brennance on “Bones” are all brainy who are admired by casts and audiences alike.

As a teenage girl, education is my number-one priority. I have always been taught to do my best, try my hardest in school, and never give up. These demeaning shirts sold in popular stores go against everything our parents and teachers are trying to impress on us. I care deeply about my education and future, and I am proud to let others know that. Why would I wear a shirt that makes me seem brainless?

Clothing stores that cater to teenage girls should do us all a favor and sell only items that respect and empower girls, instead of demean them.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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