Girls are bad at math. Algebra is lame. It’s cool to brag about hating school. These are the cringe worthy, subliminal messages major fashion retailer Forever 21 is sending teen girls through the sale of its T-shirts.
T-shirts are emblazoned with the message “Allergic to Algebra” in a way that looks loud and proud but is more shameful and disheartening.
Change.org has now posted a petition asking Forever 21 to stop selling clothing with “sexist messages.” The petition letter reads: “Simply put, 'Allergic to Algebra' pushes an ignorant, sexist, and debunked trope about women and math that will not die as long as shirts like these are sold by major retailers such as Forever 21.”
The “Allergic to Algebra” T-shirt costs $12.80.
That’s not the only anti-school message the Los Angeles retailer is selling to its tween and teen audience. “Skool sucks” is written on one shirt while another says, “I love school” on the front and “not” on the back.
ReducingStereoType.org, a website that publishes psychological studies about stereotypes says that messages such as “Allergic to Algebra” is a harmful stereotype regarding one's gender and can be incredibly detrimental to a child’s personal achievement.
Just last week JC Penny was under the scrutiny of feminist blogs, concerned parents and disgusted consumers when they were forced to yank their “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother does it for me” shirt from the shelves.
JC Penny issued an apology that said:
“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 for any concern we may have caused and assure you that we are taking action to ensure that we continue to uphold the integrity of our merchandise that [our customers] have come to expect.”
The JC Penny product page has been taken down but the original sales pitch for the shirt was “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."
Currently, there is a dead link on Forever21’s website when you try to click on the T-shirt in question.
Mariandl Hufford, the director of the Center for Advancement of Girls in an opinion column for the Philadelphia Daily News asks, “Why in 2011, it is still commonplace to degrade girls and paint them with a brush of disempowering emptiness, more interested in beauty than smarts?”
Forever 21 has yet to begin to answer that question or take action on the uproar over their controversial T-shirt one-liners.