The Children's Place pulls sexist T-shirts for girls

Parental outrage over messages that foster stereotypes forces an about-face. Why do companies keep trying this strategy?

By Aimee Picchi Aug 6, 2013 11:50AM

Girl's T-shirt (© Children’s Place via Children's Place's (PLCE) latest T-shirt line put the clothing retailer in an uncomfortable place: in the crossfire of parental outrage. 

The retailer sparked anger for girls' T-shirts like one that says "Born to wear diamonds" and another depicting a checklist under the phrase "My best subjects." While subjects such as "shopping" and "dancing" are checked off, "math" is left unchecked, with the added explanation "Well, nobody's perfect."

That made some parents hopping mad, and some filled The Children's Place's Facebook page with angry messages. Some vowed to stop shopping at the retailer. 

"As an environmental scientist, I just can't justify endorsing your business," one woman wrote. "The 'right thing' to teach our children is to ignore degrading propaganda, and present yourself in a positive way."

The retailer reacted to the furor Monday night by posting a message that it was pulling the T-shirts and assuring patrons that it takes "feedback from our customers very seriously." It added: "There are countless women in all walks of life who excel in math, including our very own CEO."

While The Children's Place moved quickly, it's just the latest retailer caught up in charges of promoting sexism in children's clothing. 

Remember J.C. Penney's (JCP) "I'm too pretty to do homework" T-shirt? That piece of clothing advertised the wearer's inability to complete schoolwork while celebrating the fact that "my brother has to do it for me." The T-shirt, aimed at girls ages 7 to 16, was pulled in 2011 after outrage from parents. 

Then there was Gymboree's line of onesies advertising girls as "Pretty like Mommy." Boys were "Smart like Daddy." 

The continual roll-out of sexist clothing raises the question of whether these items are popular enough that the stores will keep trying to sell them. One researcher told The Daily Beast that while sexist representations in clothing declined in the 1990s, gender bias returned to fashion in the 2000s. Some critics have pointed to nostalgia for bygone eras like the 1960s, as commemorated in AMC's "Mad Men." 

Regardless of the reasons behind the sexist clothing, women are still at a disadvantage when it comes to enrolling in engineering and science degrees, even though most college students are female, according to Girls Inc. On top of that, women are also less likely to be portrayed as executives or doctors on TV. 

After The Children's Place said it would stop selling the T-shirts, customers applauded the decision. As one wrote on Facebook: "Thank you for pulling that shirt. Time to move into the year 2013."

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 

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Aug 6, 2013 12:19PM

The proper response from The Children's Place should have been as follows:


If you don't like the shirts, then don't buy them. Given the inappropriate crap being marketed that makes 10 year old girls look like hookers, we feel that our shirts are pretty low on the list of things you should be concerned about. We are free to market what we choose and you are free to not buy what you find offensive. Thank you, have a nice day and God bless America.

Aug 6, 2013 12:44PM
 If you want to teach your daughters (or sons for that matter) something, teach them -If their relying on T shirts for Life advice then you are the one to blame, not the shops that sell T Shirts. Some stupid crazed feminist mother started this I'm sure.
Aug 6, 2013 12:28PM
Don't like don't buy. I honesty don't see the huge deal.
Aug 6, 2013 12:40PM

Oh, for heaven's sakes, chill out, these shirts are harmless. Someone always has to start a stink over nothing !!!


Aug 6, 2013 1:07PM

These "outraged" mommies need to get a hobby!  If YOU don't like what the shirt says then here's a thought DON'T BUY IT!  Geez with all the REAL problems that our country is in THIS is the NONSENSE these parents focus on??!!!  How about being outraged over things that will AFFECT your children's future??? 

Aug 6, 2013 1:12PM

Better than "Born to have children out of wedlock:......

Aug 6, 2013 1:52PM
Seriously people??? If you don't like or approve the shirt, NEWSFLASH...... DON'T BUY IT!!!  Everyone is "so offended" all the time now over STUPID stuff!!! Get over yourselves!!! It's up to YOU to teach your child about self esteem and values, not a T-Shirt!!!  These are the same Moms that started the "everyone gets a trophy" society that is severly handicapping the future children of this country and turning them all into gaint disrepectful wussies that are not prepared for the real world as adults then get their "feelings hurt" when things don't go their way!  Notice a trend? 
Aug 6, 2013 12:54PM
This is insane. People are so touchy and sensitive nowadays. Do these people literally have nothing better to do than complain about CHILDRENS clothing?
Aug 6, 2013 2:02PM
I'd rather they wear that than a Justin Bieber t-shirt
Aug 6, 2013 1:37PM

Thank GOD they pulled those shirts from their stores.  Somebody had a gun to my head and I almost had to purchase one.


Now that the offensive devil-spawn shirts are no longer available, all our worries are over.  That was a close one!

Aug 6, 2013 1:52PM
The shirts are cute and fun. People need to find some other way to fill their time besides being hysterical idiots.
Aug 6, 2013 1:23PM
Aug 6, 2013 1:49PM
""As an environmental scientist, I just can't justify endorsing your business," one woman wrote. "The 'right thing' to teach our children is to ignore degrading propaganda, and present yourself in a positive way."
THAT IS ONE DUMB ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST!   The 'Intelligent' do NOT ignore anything.   Anyone see a correlation between "IGNORE" and "IGNORANCE"?
We, as a society, are becoming so hung up with "Politically Correct" we can't see the forest for the trees.   People fail to see their own short comings and think if they IGNORE them, they will just go away.
Aug 6, 2013 2:59PM
These t-shirts are the least of my worries.  I am finding it increasingly difficult to find any clothing for my 10-year old daughter that isn't either out and out vulgar or makes her look like she should be standing on a seedy street corner somewhere.
Aug 6, 2013 1:21PM
as girls shorts get shorter and tighter,tops skimpier.......this is what idiots latch on to? Does that mean we should rename movies too? like diamonds are a girls best friend? STUPID non issue!
Aug 6, 2013 1:38PM

I just cant stand how easy people get butt hurt today.

This country is getting to be a joke.

Do you know if you work for the county gov in Seattle you cant say you are brown bagging your lunch due to someone getting butt hurt over it? People like this make me sick.

Have a ****ed up PC day :)  

Aug 6, 2013 1:15PM
It's funny how parents complain about a few words on a shirt they do not have to purchase, but will put their tween in clothing. Which is the lesser of two evils, a shirt that makes you sound like a simple or clothes that make you look like a simple . Today's society seems to have a great need to place the blame on someone other than themselves. It is not the media, movies, video games, or hip hop and rock music that makes your children who they are, it is you first. Parent's are the first teachers and the biggest role back to your regularly scheduled program.
Aug 6, 2013 1:26PM
I could not agree more with what most are saying...what is the big deal?  IT'S A T-SHIRT!!! How is it degrading? What kid do you know would rather do math than go shopping and what girl wouldn't want diamonds! It's not saying they are less of a person because of it! People need to start worrying about important issues, not what's on a t-shirt, that, guess what...YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY!!!
Aug 6, 2013 1:35PM
I'm amazed. I guess its OK to to sell t-shirts with vulgarity all over them -- and these are considered what again? And what, please tell me, is so wrong with this? 
Aug 6, 2013 2:05PM
Another prime example of how Obama was elected TWICE.
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