Don’t know if this has already been all over the place, but just in case, I’m going to leave it right here. JCPenney thinks girls are “too pretty to do homework”.
This is pretty depressing. An extra layer of depressingness, for me, is that I strongly suspect this came straight from a “consumer insight” about girls’ ideas about work, school, self-esteem (the other shirts in the range are similarly ham-fisted one-line encapsulations of “girl attitudes”).
This is one of the things that sometimes worries me about the mainlining of ‘consumer insights’ into the business decision making process. A while ago I coined a private term for ad or marketing copy that looked like it was lifted verbatim from a focus group: qualmonella - observations served up raw. This voice of the consumer stuff could pull in one of two directions. On the one hand it normalised people’s buying choices - curling up on the sofa with a tub of ice cream is fine because everybody does it. On the other hand it could individualise the mundane - all the quirky “everybody eats their creme egg differently” type of campaigns.
This kind of observational marketing annoyed me the more I noticed it but the attitudes it was working to reinforce weren’t generally harmful (except in the general sense that buying too much shit, eating too much etc is). This shirt is on a “normalising” tip but it’s normalising attitudes that actually are harmful. Yes, it’s jokey, ironic, etc. - you’ll note, though, that even though I’m pretty sure you could arrive at a similar “insight” for boys there’s no JC Penney tee saying eg “Who needs homework when you have XBox?”.