Never Too Pretty to Do Homework
A shirt sold by JCPenney gives girls and boys the wrong message.
As Little Miss S becomes older, she’s become more vocal about how she dresses. When she was around 2½ or 3 years old, she asked to wear only pink clothes, to my chagrin. Then she went through a dresses-only phase. Not just any kind of dress, but long, ankle-length dresses, because that’s what princesses wore. For a year or so, she purposely wore mismatched socks. And she wore her shoes on the wrong feet.
Recently, I have not been allowed to give any input on what she chooses to wear each day. The only time she’ll consider my fashion advice is if she’s outgrown her skirt or pants. I remind her of the weather forecast for the day and tell her to choose wisely.
Her first day of school involved a light pink shirt with a teal and black plaid skirt. I couldn’t persuade her otherwise, so I just accepted it. It’s her way of expressing herself. She’s having fun.
When we shop for clothes, Little Miss S gets to vote yes or no. I still have the final say, but I want her to actually wear the clothes. What I don’t like are some of the clothing choices that are available for young girls. I’m a firm believer that young girls should dress like little girls and not mini-versions of Disney pop stars.
Recently there’s been a lot of controversy over a T-shirt that was sold at JCPenney. The shirt reads:
"I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me."
The description further says, "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."
The shirt was eventually pulled from the store's inventory.
What sort of message does that send to our girls? I know it’s supposed to be funny and cute, but no one is ever too pretty to do homework. So instead of using their brains, girls are supposed to use their looks to get places? It’s not the 1960s Mad Men world anymore, but some days, it seems like not much has changed.
Little Miss S wants to be a chemical engineer when she grows up. We encourage her love of science by taking her to see science shows at the library, borrowing books and even doing our own science experiments at home. We attend science festivals and even met the hosts of PBS’s Design Squad.
It can be very difficult for girls to break into fields that are traditionally male, and engineering is one of them. Companies who want to make a buck exploiting the pretty girl idea aren’t thinking about how damaging the message can be. Remember the Barbies that said, “Math class is tough”?
Neither Little Miss S nor I have yet to experience the joys of homework yet, but I won’t be telling her that her beauty is more important than her brain.
Thien-Kim Lam is glad that Little Miss S can't read what that shirt says yet. Her parent column appears on Colesville Patch each Tuesday. You can also find her blogging all things parenting at I'm Not the Nanny and sharing her love of food and craft at Cup of Creativi-Tea.