Too Pretty To Do Homework

UPDATE: 8/31/11 11:15am: The shirt appears to have been pulled from the site. No other response yet from JCP.

UPDATE 11:30am: Others reporting link still works. Shirt still for sale. No response from JCP.

UPDATE 12:52pm: JC Penny has pulled the shirt! Woot! They have issued the following apology: “JCPenney 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.”


Girls hate learning. And they love being pretty. And they’re lazy bitches. Fortunately, there’s boys. And boys are smart. And boys like pretty girls. So brothers do their sisters’ homework and the boys get to do learning stuff and the girls get to dance to Justin Bieber! And everyone wins. The end.

Are you feeling ragey at the mere mention of something so stupid and insulting? Don’t smash anything yet! You haven’t heard the best (read: even worse) part. Right now, as school is starting back up again, you can buy this shirt at JC Penney online for your favorite little girl! And right now it’s just $9.99! It’s never too early to drive home the message that pretty girls are useless vapid sluts and ugly girls are boring… and worse, smart!

I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother does it for me
(Obviously designed by someone whose brother did her design school homework for her.)

And if you think there’s a punchline here that you’re not getting because you’re no longer a part of Kids These Days™, here’s the copy from the ad:

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.

Nope. Just your everyday smart girls are ugly/pretty girls are stupid meme. (combined with the even more horrifying “pretty girls like Justin Bieber” meme.)

The good news is that a woman named Lauren Todd has already started a petition asking JCP to stop being disgusting douches. Please go sign it

I also left a snarky product review on the JC Penney website. They told me it will take up to 48 hours to post, but I’m pretty sure it will never go up. You should probably go leave some, too. If nothing else, it helps get the rage out.

Your world-saving to do list for today:

And then, ladies, if you’re not too busy, maybe go help a guy with his homework.
UPDATE 8/31/11 10:02AM: This shirt is on backorder. If you need me, call someone else. I’m shopping for a new planet to live on.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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    1. I don’t think they’ll get it, Rebecca. If they’re stupid enough to sell a shirt like that in the first place, then they’re probably too stupid to see the sarcasm.

      1. Then again, they might, because when I went to put a crappy review of my own, I got a message saying, “We are sorry, but this product is not available at this time.”

  1. Signed…That’s just stupid! My daughters were both quite pretty and damned smart…Both have Master’s degrees and had academic free ride scholarships.

    I guess whoever made that shirt up thinks all pretty girls are Barbie. :/

  2. “Math is hard. Let’s go shopping!” — Malibu Stacy doll, Simpsons

    In 1992 the some actual real-world Barbie dolls included the phrase “Math class is tough!” along with “Will we ever have enough clothes?” and “I love shopping!”

    With 4.0 in my math minor, I can assure you that math is hard. But I like it. And I see no reason why girls should not like it.

    And this whole idea of having others do your homework just disgusts me. I do help students with their homework. And the main point of homework is that it helps you learn. Asking someone else to do your homework is wrong. It’s very wrong.

  3. Of course, you could be lucky like me and be actually ugly and smart.

    I’ve got one cat. Guess I should stock up on more.

  4. Thanks for linking to the petition, Elyse. I don’t want my daughter to ever think this kind of thing is anything but awful.

    1. Context: My daughter is 4. When I tell her she is beautiful, she says “I don’t want to be beautiful, I want to be good at drawing.” And she is (both beautiful, and good at drawing).

  5. Luckily, it seems that many many girls are ignoring these messages and we’ve seen girls out perform boys at almost every level at school. At the university level it’s almost comical the ratio of female to male – if it weren’t so sad.

    As someone who works in schools, I’m much more worried about boys checking out of school at a very young age.

    Here’s Old Navy encouraging boys to not do homework:

    (If you don’t want to visit the site it’s a shirt that reads, “Homework is not in my vocabulary.”)

    1. My greatest concern for academic dissuasion for girls is the obvious push towards humanities and social science and away from math and physical science. This shirt is ridiculous, but I’m far more worried about “Math is hard. Let’s go shopping!” statements.

  6. Iszi: I was exercising self-restraint. Proud parents sometimes have to do that. ;-)

    Example: My youngest is a whiz at math (which I am not. All my math came very hard to me.), but doesn’t like it much. That didn’t stop her from getting academic scholarships and such…It’s called “working hard for what you want.” Our kids did all their homework themselves. They were free to ask for explanations and examples, but they had to do the assignments themselves.

    As I posted on Facebook under this story, I think smart women are far more attractive than the “pretty but dumb” women. I dated one of the latter and I had to give it up because she drove me nuts with her inability to carry on an adult conversation. Intelligence shot up to the top of my list of desirable characteristics in a partner after that.

    Personally, I think you need to be more or less matched intellectually to make it in a couple. Some guys may ‘feel smarter’ in comparison to a less intelligent woman, but pairings like that don’t last in my experience.

  7. “We are sorry, but this product is not available at this time.”

    I think JC Penney is starting to notice the rage… ;)

    1. Great T-Shirt. As soon as I get home I am going to order one! My sister is a university professor and I will make sure I wear it when I see her at Thanksgiving.

  8. How did the product development process go?
    Designer: “I’m working on a new girls’ shirt- I’ve got the concept down but I’m working on the phrasing”.
    Later: “got it! ‘I’m too pretty to do homework.’ It was so obvious- how did I miss it?”.
    Boss: “it’s good but I’ve seen pretty and stupid before. How can we add lazy? I know- let’s say her brother does her homework. I can’t wait- these will sell like hotcakes. Like hotcakes!”

    End scene. Continue rage.

  9. It’s easy to write this stuff off (and really, does JC Penney have customers young enough to bear children? OMFG, Grandparents!), but it’s far too common.

    Fuck these stupids–my little girl is going to get a 1550 on the SAT and wear this shirt while she gives her Valedictorian speech.

    1. HAYYY AwESOME! I was just thinking about the one I had, but it was a sparkly iron-on one- it said the same thing! I wish I knew where that shirt went…

  10. One does not have to be female to see the stupidity in such material. I agree that JCP is polluting the mind with crap such as this T-Shirt. Signed you petition, gladly. Me, 63 year old Male.

  11. Ugh.
    I got my (female) cousin (who teaches math) a t-shirt that says “I’m too pretty NOT to do math!” I like that sentiment much better.

  12. Damn it, JCPenney. What the hell is wrong with you?

    Little boys need clothes too. Where is my nephew’s “Show Me Your Tits” back-to-school wife beater?

  13. wait wait – this is the first thing I saw – so, this falls under the “pretty girls are dumb but that’s okay they just coast through life on their looks because men want to have sex with them and therefore give them things” trope, right?

    So..her *brother* does her homework for her? She’s so pretty her *brother* is infatuated with her and does her homework?? I picture the scene at the elementary school, where his friends express jealousy that he gets to do stuff for his hot sister, and he blushes with pride and says aw shucks. As boys do, when the topic is how bone-able their sister is.

    There are truly layers of gross to this one.

    1. I know. I had horrific images of “I’ll just bat my eyes at my brother and he’ll be powerless to not do my bidding.” There’s really few worse boners than brother boners.

      1. What has been said cannot be unsaid.
        What has been read cannot be unread.
        Thanks Elyse. Now I have to wash out my brain with bleach. Again. :p

  14. My father-in-law works for JCP. I know he had nothing to do with this, but I’m still going to show him this and ask what the hell they were thinking.

  15. Are all retailers in America such cowards that they pull any product that might offend someone? I mean this is a fairly stupid shirt but would you cheer if a store pulled a “There is no God” shirt because of complaints from religious folks?
    Home of the free and brave… oh yeah.

    1. Well, yeah they are.
      And exactly which retailer do you think would even sell a “There is no God” tee to start with?
      Us hateful heathens have to get that stuff online.

        1. Wait, so you see retail stores not wanting to piss off their customers as a decline?
          It has always been that way, the customer is always right and such.
          So if customers were offended by a product in your country the retailer would tell them to take a hike?
          I seriously doubt that.

          1. I think retail stores not wanting to piss off anyone is a sign of decline. Obviously pissing off everybody is bad for business. Not daring to piss off anyone is being coward, and i would guess not even optimal as business policy.
            “The costumer is always right” is bullshit. I think it is sensible to tell exceptionally obnoxious or irrational costumers to get lost.
            And yes, there are retailers who do piss off some segments of the society and they are still in business. Though I have to admit such retailers are a minority in my country as well.

          2. I don’t think this is a matter of stupid retailer caving because someone was offended. This was a case of many people being upset about something that was insulting and offensive. The complaint was about something that was legitimately damaging to their image, bad for their brand and upsetting to their customers. People responded by the thousands within hours.

            Is it always appropriate for companies to “cave”? No. In this case it was. And the public was outraged because it was JCPenny selling the shirt. If it was being sold at TShirt Hell or The Shore Shop, the outrage would be limited to a smaller number and the stores wouldn’t be hurting their brands or losing their base customers.

            It’s pretty stupid to offend the people whose dollars you are trying to attract.

            If a Christian store pulled “God is an asshole” shirts from their stores, that would be totally appropriate. If Rebecca pulled the same shirt from SkepticalRobot because Kirk Cameron was mad, that would be caving… and stupid.

          3. actually a reply to Nador but it goes in this thread.

            I’m going to have a shot at explaining this to you because I can see where you’re coming from but I don’t think you can see where we’re coming from. Imagine the shirt said something like “I’m black so I don’t go to school, I join gangs and sell drugs”. I think you would agree that this theoretical tshirt should not be sold. There is a difference between supporting free speech (a t shirt that says there is no God) and supporting racism or in this case sexism. The shirt portrays an offensive and invasive stereotype of women, it denigrates a section of society unfairly; that’s why it is wrong. A shirt that said there is no God would not do that, you could make shirts which had offensive stereotypes of Christians or more likely Muslims and those theoretical shirts should not be sold either.

    2. If atheists can get their way and get the word “God” pulled out of everything including the pledge of allegiance (on some items), I think people who believe in God can get offended at shirts that say “There is no God” and get them pulled.

  16. Again, I find myself scratching my head and wondering exactly what people who would design such a t-shirt could possibly be thinking. In addition to being blind, I find that loads of things from mainstream culture completely boggle my mind and often remind me that no matter what, I have always been a freak and a freak I will be until I snuff it.

    If I had suggested that I would do my sister’s homework because she was too pretty to bother with such things, my parents would probably have had me banished to some other family that had very different values than we do. In my family, the women and men and girls and boys all worked hard and we grew up thinking this was the way everything worked.

    My maternal great-grandmother, a Polish immigrant with minimal education, ran a dry cleaninging and tailoring shop in Jersey City. Her daughter, my maternal grandmother, was an English professor at Union College. My mother is an historian, retired from the Smithsonian. My sister is a very well educated science teacher in Massachusetts and her daughter, my niece, is an honors student in a math and science concentration high school.

    We men have been successful too but, excepting my great-grandmother and 15 year old niece, This entire line of women in my family have advanced degrees and all have done their own homework.

    I can’t imagine living with a different set of values or a world view that would think that being pretty is enough for one to succeed.

    I’m glad to see that JCPenny has pulled the product.

  17. Grrrrr. If you tell someone they are stupid enough, they will believe it. Don’t limit your children like that. Every child, female and male, should be encouraged to be the best they can be. I can’t believe how well the “stupid slut” fad has caught on these days. May it die a fast and gruesome death.

    1. I think the “fad” started in the late ’80’s early ’90’s with Hollywood. Remember “Valley Girls”?

      1. Good point. I was going to blame Paris Hilton but, you’re correct, it did start earlier. I only partly blame Ms. Hilton now.

          1. I’ve seen Gidget and know who Sandra Dee is. I wouldn’t quite toss them in the “slut” category but they’re definitely typical of the dumb but oh so pretty stereotype being promoted here.

            Why do we never learn? Homework is good for you!

          2. I’m pretty sure Victorian ladies were discouraged from creasing their smooth brows by frowning in thought about things like science and politics, and were expected to have pleasing conversations that didn’t involve having an opinion or knowing about things that were supposed to be the domain of men.

  18. It started centuries ago. I think calling out various modern incarnations of sexism or misogyny as being anything particularly new isn’t very mindful of the actual history of gender politics and roles. It changes its style, from corsets to t-shirts, but it’s more or less the same thing.

    I’m sorry for saying so, but the attitude of “girls these days have such low opinions of themselves and are being raised on such sexist swill” kind of reminds me of the “moral breakdown of America” or “rock and roll is corrupting our youth” or “kids these days” or “culture is being dumbed down” attitudes. Like… pretty much completely untrue. Think back to the way women and girls were represented when you were young. Was it really all that different? Was it even the slightest bit more enlightened? If anything, it was probably worse.

    1. …which is not to say that things like this aren’t horrible and that we shouldn’t be outraged. I’m very glad it got pulled. Great job, everybody!

    2. Exactly, does anyone actually remember what the “moral” to the movie Grease was?
      We all remember the movie and the music but forget that in the end Sandy changes herself to be excepted. Horrid!!!!

  19. Damn. I was too late to sign. The petition page had “VICTORY” at the top, said JCP had caved, and there was no “sign here” button. Crap!

    Oh, wait, this is a good thing :-)

  20. I showed that T-shirt to my 17 year old daughter. Her reaction was “That is fucking stupid!”

    (she will be spending her last year of high school at community college through the state’s Running Start program, plus she received an 1830 on the SAT, being the only young lady there dressed to the hilt, including spike heels)

  21. I might take a moment to point out that homework is still super important even if you’re not getting perfect scores on your standardized tests. And if you have trouble getting your homework done, it could be a sign of a more serious issue than not having a brother who thinks you’re hot.

    1. Exactly.

      I’m the mother who did not do their children’s homework. I usually tell them I did homework when I was in school, it is up to them to do their own homework.

      By the way, this was a conversation that came up when certain Queen Bee Moms whose children (their oldest) were in my youngest child’s third grade complained about a book report. They were kvetching about the format and how to get it done, and asked me if my daughter was having any trouble. I told them that she did it, did not say a peep about it and that I did not do her homework.

  22. Shame on them for commenting on reality. No one likes to do homework and attractive people have an easier time getting others to do things for them. Granted, this is aimed specifically at girls, but anyone who would want to wear this shirt is probably someone who fits the description. Get over it.

    1. The thing is, cicero, this isn’t just commentary, this is, in fact, reinforcement of a pretty negative stereotype that goes back a long, long ways – even unto the elder days – to when it was commonly assumed that women couldn’t do anything aside from housework and making babies.

      In fact, women are so incapable that it was clearly understood that only Wonder Woman was able to do the kind of thinking MEN did:

      If it didn’t have a centuries-long history behind it, that t-shirt might be excusable by your argument, but in general, it’s considered idiotic to ignore the history behind something when it’s so obvious. Don’t believe me? Go wear a white sheet at a civil rights rally. After all, people have been wearing white robes for a long time, and they’re good for keeping the sun off your skin!

  23. I’ve got two chemistry classes that I wouldn’t have passed in college, were it not for the help of a smart, pretty girl who helped me study…

    1. During my third year of physics there were two girls in the entire year, I got paired with both of them in the lab. I believe it was then that I discovered that homework was bad, why do stuff at home when you can work together in the lab?

  24. Several years ago, Penney’s had a “I’m homeskooled” tee shirt and ended up pulling it as well. Is there no way to be funny without denigrating and insulting mockery?

  25. Just saw this post and two thoughts came to mind. I love mother effen ass kicking Elyse! And I thought if my sister had ever asked me to do her homework I’d have dropped on the floor in fits of derisive laughter.

  26. What I see from this, is that you saw a t-shirt that said something you did not agree with and bullied the provider into pulling it from the shelves.

    Freedom of speech -1
    Censorship +1

    I hated what the t-shirt said, so I just didn’t buy it.

    1. Did you know that freedom of speech applys to people wishing to criticize what’s already been said? It’s not “I said it first and my freedom of speech is that you can’t say anything against me.”

      And I love that consumers are bullies and the corporations are innocent victims with no way to defend themselves against our guerilla thug tactics like “asking politely” and “using our words to say we don’t approve”… and don’t forget the brutality of offering them a way to improve the situation before losing our business. How fucking capitalistic of us!

      1. Well said Elyse! It always amazes me when people complain about people using their right of free speech by asserting that by doing so the are hurting someone else’s free speech. Say What???!

      2. I agree that freedom of speech is a 2 way street. Like I can comment on this post. But if you where to take down this post because someone doesn’t agree with it, I would find that out of line.

        The way I see it the consummers lost something today because a product is no longer available because someone did not like it, that doesn’t mean that no one would like it.

        Makes me think of when people complain about a TV show and then they remove it from the air, well wait a minute, I wanted to see that show, why do people who complain win and not those that did not complain and just enjoyed the show?

        1. Well,if you feel that strongly about it,then why don’t you start a campaign to support bringing the ‘Pretty girls enjoy being ignorant and lazy’ T-shirt back. I’m sure that if you get enough support,that J.C. Penney will listen.That’s the nice thing about free speech.
          Good luck with that.

        2. The removal of the shirt, like the cancellation of a TV show, is a business decision.

          If the government had steped in and forced them to stop selling the shirt, you would have a point.

          As it is, they exercised their freedom to run their business as they see fit, and they decided that the negative publicity was not worth continuing to market a poorly designed and insulting shirt.

          If this was your business, you could have continued selling the shirt regardless of what sort of negative responses it attracted. It’s not. It’s someone else’s business, and they handled it differently.

          So somebody used their freedom to design and sell a shirt, a company used their freedom to sell that shirt, consumers used their freedom to express distaste for the shirt, and the company used its freedom to stop selling the shirt.

          Your proposed counter solution of not buying the offending product is actually WORSE for the business: businesses WANT customers to complain (when the laternative is going elsewhere, at least), because it gives them something to focus on fixing while trying to retain dissatisfied customers or draw in new ones. Customers who take their business elsewhere without giving feedback are lost customers that can’t be brought back.

          There’s nothing involved in this whole affair that constitutes censorship or opposes freedom of speech…with the possible exception of your apparent distaste for a company freely deciding to stop selling a product.

          So you’ve defended the marketing of a misogynistic product without showing any signs at all of understanding what the hell you’re talking about. Your mom must be proud.

  27. the only sensible way of interpreting this shirt is ironically…. and then it’s not offensive at all..

  28. Kind of hard to take this seriously when the has adverts selling shirts with slogans like “future trophy wife” and “W.I.F.E. Washing, Ironing, F*cking, Etc” I mean the advert is even on this page.

    1. Actually, the ads are targeted to the person viewing them (so, for instance, I see World of Warcraft and e-commerce ads). So, something in your viewing history has triggered those ads.

      As always though, we block offensive ads when people let us know about them. So just let us know what URL they go to and we’ll block them immediately.

  29. I posted the petition about these shirts on FB, but got a lot of negative feedback. That I was too sensitive, or it didn’t matter because it “wasn’t sexist,” or that it didn’t matter because supply and demand allowed the shirts, etc. Worst of all was that someone accused me of being like a Christian who wants to ban Harry Potter. I’m not sure how to respond to all this, other than saying that the shirts, which are for girls only, are outrageously sexist and I don’t like them. Can anyone post on my FB page to help me on this?

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