Here are a few of the offending t-shirt quotes I am ranting about:
- Future Leader
- I’d rather be reading
- Girls Rule
- Brilliant Mind
- Girls with dreams become women with vision
- Intelligence is beautiful
- Girls can do anything
- Girl genius
- Smart Cookie
- Future astronaut
Let me be clear that none of these sayings are offensive to me by what they say or the message they send. They are all positive (if not a bit presumptuous or braggy) and used to boost girls’ self esteem and confidence. In 2017, most of us are raising our girls to be equals and teaching them they can do anything, right? Aren’t we already telling them in private that they’re worthy, they are smart, that reading is cool, that they can be astronauts? Why are we still advertising our beliefs for them on their t-shirts? I know it hasn’t been that long (a few years or so) since we’ve had the asinine shirts with quotes such as ‘Boys are better than books’, or ‘I’m too pretty to do homework’, but this is overkill. Our girls are inspired. You boost their self esteem on a daily basis. It’s time to move on and make some shirts that advertise their interests, not ours.
My daughter and I went shopping at Old Navy a few weeks ago and I asked her if she wanted any of the graphic T’s with quotes. She looked, shrugged and walked away. She told me that it doesn’t matter what she wears, as long as the fabric is comfortable. Then we went to the boys section to buy some gifts for her cousins. It was at that time I saw her eyes light up when she saw all the Pokémon and Minecraft t-shirts. I asked her if she wanted any shirts here. She already had a few Pokémon shirts at home, so she picked a Minecraft shirt, smiling the rest of the time we were in the store.
She told me that when she wears her Pokémon shirts, or carries her Pokémon figurines in her backpack, she draws other kids who have the same interests closer in order to start a conversation, and eventually become friends with them. This is how she and other kids her age find others to talk to, if they aren’t super outgoing or extroverted. Boys have more options for these types of shirts, while girls have their choice of plain shirts, frilly shirts or inspirational quote shirts.
I don’t like that she holds back on deciding whether or not to get a shirt from the boys section because it is a boy shirt, and since she’s a girl, she’s not supposed to wear it, as if she’s breaking some unspoken rule. Just put the Minecraft and Pokémon shirts in the girls section already. And make them in an array of colors. They don’t all have to be pink.
And about the pro-books inspirational quotes – just make the shirts with specific books or quotes from actual books. Or book characters. We know that books are good and reading is good. But what are you reading? What’s your favorite book character? What’s your favorite series? Shouldn’t those be the bigger questions?
Girls do have interests and hobbies. The next step for companies should be to cater to those things. If a girl walks into class wearing a ‘Brilliant Mind’ or ‘Genius’ t-shirt, nobody will want to talk to them because it seems too damn arrogant. We get it, your parent who chose that shirt for you wants you to be confident. But telling them is enough, no need to showcase it.
Let’s move on.