Monday, August 10, 2009

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a brief rant.

I was at a store recently, shopping for clothes for my kids - my four daughters. And these are are what I found. Now, I have a healthy sense of humor, and am even not averse to sexual innuendo. But some of these shirts were the right size for my ten-year-old daughter, the one who still makes fairy houses in the back yard. The one who writes poems like this:

Barbie Meets Acid Rain

Barbie was walking in the grass
Knowing nothing about the Earth's mass.
Acid rain started falling down
And soaked her purse, body, and gown.

And she melted.

So this is what American Eagle Outfitters and Abercrombie and Fitch want her to grow up and into? Someone who flaunts sexuality before she's anywhere near ready to "Get Lei'd?" Someone who thinks school is a drag and being a "class cutter" is cool? They don't want her to have a broad mind and a tight argument, they want her to be a broad with a "tight end" and "tiny bikini" which she pulls off on Girls Gone Wild. Sigh.

So is it possible that these a**holes at American Eagle and Abercrombie don't have mothers/daughters/nieces/sisters? No, of course not. But clearly the value of a dollar trumps the value of their families.

OK. I'm done now.



i love her poem...really smart..
but those goddess, they're horrible..

a thousand shades of twilight said...

Yes, that poem is inspired! Clearly she takes after her mum!

I agree - this really gets on my wick. I hate these t-shirts, especially on kids. I must confess to being slightly alarmed at my niece's generation (what comes after Generation Z?). They call each other things like "hot bitch" without irony. Being a "hot bitch" seems to be a number one priority. I just don't get it, and am often heard to mutter, 'whatever happened to feminism'? And whatever happened to being a kid?

Grrr. The makers of these t-shirts are so cynical!

Miss Janey said...

Miss J feels that sometimes a letter to the head of the company is in order. This is definitely one of those times. What awful crap to make for kids.

Kim Hambric said...

When I was young (so long ago) my mother told me that only trashy people wore clothes with words on them. We could wear a t-shirt with a college name or sports team on it to the pool or to sleep. No where else. I think she was right about that. I do not want anyone to read my daughter.

Sure its freedom of speech. Its also a ticket to teenage pregnancy. Won't those trashy words look great stretched out over an 8-months-pregnant belly.

Maybe I'll get lucky and my daughter will always let me pick out her clothes for her.

I'm gonna put the hoodoo on those damn retailers.

jason said...

all kinds of wrong!

Elizabeth said...

Granny - The poem's a hoot, isn't it? Happily, she thinks these shirts are as repulsive as I do (you gotta brainwash 'em early and often!).

1000 shades - You'll adore her. All grown ups do. She's one of those little kids that uses GREAT BIG words, but pronounces them incorrectly because she's only ever read them in books. And she's very punny.
She is not, however (don't tell your niece!) a hot bitch. Yet.

You know, in my day, "bitch" was a word we reserved for cat fights in the girls bathroom or as a cutting hiss under ones breath in the halls. Much much nicer!

And cynical is exactly what these shirts are!

Miss Janey - Believe me, I'm thinking about it!

Kim - Just warning you, your daughter will absolutely not let you choose her clothes when she's older. In fact, you'll consider yourself lucky when an item you've chosen for her doesn't get a disgusted eye roll!

Jason - Yep, they're every kind of wrong!

ayem8y said...

You know, I used to fashion merchandise for SAKS and they would have these same suggestive T-shirts every year when back to school season would begin. I can’t tell you how many times some woman would berate me openly on the floor. Honestly what are the buyers thinking?

BTW - I love that Barbie melts at the end. She always suffered the same fate when my G.I. Joes would invade the neighbors Barbie pool party.

Pop Tart said...

I've written about this before (and you should see the crap for infants!); it only seems to be getting worse.

Marianne said...

I think it was Abercrombie and Fitch that some young women in our area publicly boycotted (girlcotted) with encouragement from the Women and Girls Foundation a couple of years ago--and the particular T-shirt was taken off the market--however the publicity Abercrombie and Fitch got from this may have attracted some buyers.

sageweb said...

Ha ha I love the poem. THose shirts are all over ..they are disgusting..I am glad Homer and his sister dont wear clothes.

Elizabeth said...

Ayem8y - As if it was your fault that Saks was buying that crap! (I wouldn't have yelled at you.)

Yes, Barbie is the lightening rod for all our fears and dreams. (I used to dress my ken dolls up in drag... Gosh, who would'a figured that I'd love hanging out with gay men?)

Marianne - I remember that now! We all know that these shirts express deep societal ills. I wish we could deal with those more directly!

sage - Yeah, I love the poem too. She has a great sense of humor! I know that you would NEVER let Homie or his new sis wear such awful things! (Though it would be kind of funny to see a neutered dog wearing a "Hot to Trot" tee shirt!)

L said...

This is long, sorry, but it makes up for all the other times I only read and didn't comment.

I don't know what it is about t-shirts with writing on them. I am a child of the Abercrombie and AE generation, and I am highly dissatisfied with the personal outcomes it has produced for me. A recent personal encounter with unwanted sexual attention at a party really jarred me. My gut instinct as a recent inductee into the "adult" world was:
1) I should show up next time wearing a strap on and then see who tries to pull that crap!
2) I should show up next time wearing a burqa (and then see who tries to pull that crap!)

Somehow my instincts led me to two utterly distasteful and self-blaming options: violent sexual confrontation, or rash bodily effacement. Friends agreed after some debate that neither really solved the problem, which should never have been associated with my body. These were superficial solutions, and probably both would have had the same result: unwanted sexual attention.

The best solution we came up with was to learn how to object using spoken words, and call them on their shit.

But for people like me and maybe even Elizabeth's daughter, in threatening situations I freeze and withdraw, feeling gross, rather than confront, feeling empowered.

I agree with Kim's mother: why should we let people read our young women in this way?

Although I have to object to the statement that this is the ticket to teenage pregnancy. The problem is way deeper; an unwanted pregnancy is not the worst thing that could happen to a young woman. An unhealthy body image & poor self worth last a lifetime.

The sad truth of the matter is that people in power will read what they want to, regardless of whether it's written across your breasts or not.

Certainly these big corporate decision makers are only adding gasoline to the fire.

I wish there was some better way to arm our sisters and daughters against the inevitable. I think the answer once again lies in open conversation with kids: about sex, body parts, masturbation, the works! If kids are able to value their bodies for themselves, and not for the reaction they cause or the power they hold over others, then it may be more second-nature for them to reject these absurdities, whether it's on sale at Abercrombie or at a party with work people.

Just a shot in the dark.

Nonetheless, I wish these big corporations would grow a pair and make it cool to melt the Barbie already!

Dauvit said...

You should get that poem printed on a shirt for her!

These teeshirts bring us to very much the same discussion we had on Flickr about the "Bratz" dolls!

As to that hideous marketing phenomenon, Abercrombie and Fitch, they showed their true colours over here recently:

more cowbell said...

Genius. Maybe she could market it. Acid Rain Barbie. With teflon umbrella.

What's really sad is that those shirts made to fit a 10 year old are being worn by 16 year olds with eating disorders and skewed body images, thanks in part to our sexed up airbrushed media.