JC Penney and Short Term Memories

I think what JC Penney did this week over the Ellen Degeneres/1 Million Moms fiasco was commendable. Highly commendable. No business should cower to bigotry and homophobia. The family values I teach my children are acceptance, love, and kindness for all human beings. I believe in equality, to my very core.

JC Penney played the firestorm beautifully, and they needed to, because they needed a PR home run. They got one — as many of the parents and concerned adults this fall who were outraged over the back-to-back mudslide of the “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother does it for me” T-Shirt Gate and the objectifying Phoebe Cates/pool tv commercial are now all wild for the JC Penney shop-in taking place this weekend. I won’t be attending.

I fully support Gay rights, the LGBT community, and the right to equality. But I also support our daughters, and I’ll be busy giving a keynote address on the role of women and girls in the media, ironically. I try my best not to shop at places that sell my daughter short, and teach my son not to expect much from girls.

I just went through all 8 pages of tops offered online for girls sizes 7-16. With the exception of a few “nerd” references on t-shirts showing Hello Kitty wearing thick black glasses, the vast majority of the shirts referenced shopping, bff’s, high heels, make-up, Peace, cupcakes, and phrases like “Fame, Fashion, and Friends”.

I just want more for my girl, ya know? Fighting stereotypes about one group of people doesn’t quite cross out selling and profiting from selling stereotypes about another group.

The t-shirt that helped Pigtail Pals go on one of our two wild viral events this fall is still selling like crazy — Pretty’s Got Nothing To Do With It. You can get yours here. Because you won’t find anything like it at JC Penney.

Pigtail Pal's best-selling tee that builds girls up.


The back of our Pretty tee, words were collected from our Facebook community as they described their daughters.


It Is Not About the T-shirt

Walk with me, now, and see the forest through the trees.

The JC Penney T-shirt Gate is actually not about a t-shirt. Kind of like the Holy Roman Empire being neither holy nor Roman. Confusing, I know.

This entire viral uproar is over parents and other concerned individuals being sick and tired of  the pervasive message marketed everywhere to our daughters that being pretty and obsessed with boys and shopping (maybe cupcakes and puppies as Anderson Cooper points out) is what being a girl is all about. It has come to define girlhood, and nearly every product made for them. Walk through any clothing department or toy aisle — what messages do you see for girls? What messages do you see for boys? It is gender apartheid, and our daugthers ended up with the short end of the stick.

I call bullshit. While JC Penney took one shirt down, as I said on Tuesday night, they’ve got another dozen that continue to sell girls short. A JC Penney juniors buyer purchased these shirts, in dozens of styles, from a manufacturer; another employee wrote the offensive and sexist online product descriptions. This doesn’t seem to be a one-time mistake. This seems to be a pattern of selling girls short. I don’t see the funny.

Pigtail Pals has been here since 2009 fighting to put better products and messages in the marketplace for girls. We’ve been blogging and directing an amazing Parent Community to fight for our kids. And we’re not about to change our message. 

We created a tee in direct response to the garbage at JC Penney. It is selling like wildfire. And it ought to, because pretty’s got nothing to do with it.

I’d like to see the media focus on THIS tee, instead of the one at JC Penney. We need to change the way we think about our girls.

Pigtail Pals new tee, available on eight colors 3T - Ladies.


I also want to set the the record straight for clothing label Self Esteem, owned by All Access Apparel, who unfortunately was brought into this by media and bloggers who did not check their facts. The LA clothing company Self Esteem is NOT the manufacturer of the tees in question.

Unfortunately, no one at Self Esteem was ever contacted to confirm that they indeed were the manufacturer of the T-shirt. The company was associated with the shirt because they were grouped on the JCPenney website where the ‘Too Pretty’ shirt was displayed.

“This huge oversight on the part of the media and concerned mothers has caused our company’s name to be defamed not only with one of our largest customers, JCPenney, but with our entire customer base,” said President of Self Esteem Richard Clareman. “We have always and will continue to promote positive messages to young girls.”