When I was a little girl having a hard time with math homework, my grandfather once said to me in his kindest voice: “It’s ok honey, girls just aren’t good at math.”
My father was, rightfully, furious. I didn’t understand why. I felt like I was a pretty smart girl, and knew that gender did not determine mathematical ability. But still, those tiny grains of sand (which are not so tiny coming from loved ones!) all add up to one giant beach of opinion that it can be hard to see around.
Sometimes the messages are subtle; like the fact that Chasing Fireflies carries this sweet shirt for little boys. Part of their “when I grow up” series, little boys can be a fireman, policeman, or astronaut. I’m not bothering with gender neutral terms like “fire fighter,” or “police officer,” because the girls on the site don’t even get a “when I grow up” option. It doesn’t even exist for them.
In the latest round of “marketers suck,” JC Penney has just pulled their latest catastrophe from shelves: a t-shirt for little girls which read “Too pretty to do homework, so I have my brother do it for me.” The shirt has been pulled, but let’s face it; in a world where anyone thinks this is ok, or the latest thing, and they should sell it to little girls, this is just ONE tiny block in the tower of sexism surrounding our girls.
Then there is Pigtail Pals. Check out their response, “Pretty has nothing to do with it!” I love it. Maybe if we all continue to squawk to retailers when they shove “too pretty to do homework” messages at our girls, the messages will change.