Forever21 pulls sexist t-shirts after online backlash
“Sorry Ladies, I only date models.”
That’s just one of a handful of appalling slogans featured on new Forever 21 shirts for young boys, and it’s the reason the retailer is apologizing this week after dozens of people rightly called them out for being totally sexist and inappropriate for kids.
Earlier this week, Yahoo Style reported on the t-shirts, which were sized for boys as young as five and featured gross slogans like:
“Sorry Ladies I only date models”
“Chicks are all over me”
After the Yahoo article went up, people started tweeting about the shirts and tagging the brand using the hashtag #NotBuyingIt. It wasn’t long before Forever 21 pulled the $11 shirts off their website and issued a statement that read, “Forever 21 takes feedback and product concerns very seriously. With regards to the T-shirts in question, after receiving feedback we have taken immediate action to have them removed from our website. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the products.”
This isn’t the first time the brand has been in hot water over their t-shirt designs. They’re currently embroiled in lawsuits over several alleged copyright violations, including one that accuses them off using designs that rip-off Kanye West. In March, they were forced to apologize for selling a shirt that some thought joked about rape. Prior to that, they were criticized for selling a girls’ shirt that said, “Allergic to Algebra.”
Forever 21 may have apologized for offending anyone, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that these shirts were even approved, manufactured, or sold in the first place. A shirt proclaiming that someone only dates models would be bad enough on an adult. On a kid? It’s downright dangerous.
As psychology professor and author Christia Spears Brown told Yahoo, these shirts and other products like them reinforce “a harmful stereotype about boys that says their value and worth is dependent on how many girls or women they can ‘conquer.’ This has a ripple effect that can harm boys, both gay and straight, as well as girls. It indirectly says that girls are only for sexual attention and not for friendship.”
Kids don’t need to be concerned with sex appeal and how attractive their peers perceive them to be, and they certainly don’t need any more damaging messages sent their way about how girls and boys are supposed to treat one another. To some, it may seem harmless or even silly to stick a five-year-old in a “ladies man” shirt, but it’s not. Kids aren’t born sexist, and there’s no reason to buy products, toys and clothing items that introduce and reinforce harmful ideas about gender that shouldn’t exist in the first place.