Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Abercrombie T-Shirts for Teenaged Girls Controversy

On November 2, I saw this Yahoo news story about a new line of t-shirts for girls, sold by Abercrombie, which contain sexual references.

Shirts start at $24.50 and they are called 'attitude shirts'.

Here are some of the slogans which are written across the breast area of the shirts.

"Who Needs Brains When I Have These?"

"You Better Make More Than I Can Spend"

"Do I make you look fat?"

"Don't be jealous"

"I had a nightmare I was a brunette"

"Blondes are adored, brunettes are ignored"

A "girlcott" was begun and people began voicing negative opinions to Abercrombie.

After the written press covered the story, it moved to television news reports from CNN and FoxNews.

Today the news hit that Abercrombie has taken certain shirts with certain sayings on them off the market. I have not yet been able to figure out which shirts were pulled off the market. (I bet those are already collectors items and that some are for sale on eBay already.)

Here is an Op Ed piece from Anchorage Daily News dated November 9, 2005. Here is a great quote from it.
The store calls these "attitude T-shirts" and they don't come cheap: 25 bucks to demean yourself and other females while fattening Abercrombie's profits.

If adult women want to make fools of themselves and contribute to anti-woman stereotypes, that's one thing. But when the hip place to shop aims those messages at girls, it's telling them if they want to be cool, they have to play down their intelligence, play up their perfect bodies and put down other girls.

Here is another Op Ed piece from the DesMoines Register dated 11/9/05. This article reports this:

Last Friday, the company issued a statement saying it was taking the action "in recognition that these T-shirts might be found to be objectionable to many young women, who are among our best customers."

The girls are " just jumping out of their skins" with excitement, said Heather Arnet, their spokeswoman, in a phone interview. They're even more excited that representatives of the company have agreed to meet with them to brainstorm about more empowering messages to put on T-shirts, according to Arnet, who heads up the Women & Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania. The girls came together during a retreat for a youth program the foundation runs in Allegheny County. They began hatching plans in August to do something about the T-shirts.

We've been talking about protest in this column lately - the issues that inspire it, the people who engage in it and the ways they get their points across. I love this story because it began with an outrage, but the girls didn't stop at feeling demeaned and discouraged. They did their homework and researched their options. They chose the "girlcott" after learning they couldn't picket at the mall because it's private property. They learned how to use the media by calling a press conference. Now they even have a national public relations firm signed on to schedule interviews with them.

Hooray for these young female consumers for voicing their opinions and winning!

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