Forever 21 Under Fire For Seriously Terrible T-Shirt Design

by Jerriann Sullivan

Retailer popular with kids, tweens releases victim-blaming shirt

The latest “what were they thinking” piece of clothing is a new victim-blaming shirt for men from Forever 21 that will make you scream “ughhh.” The white graphic tee reads, “Don’t Say Maybe If You Want To Say No.”

If you’ve ever been to a Forever 21 store you know they are crawling with kids and tweens who love the cheap, typically trendy clothing. Can you imagine your teen seeing this message or worse yet buying it? Who was the genius that came up with this design?

“Forever 21 strives to exemplify the highest ethical standards and takes feedback and product concerns very seriously,” a Forever 21 representative told Refinery29. “With regards to the T-shirt in question, upon receiving feedback from our customers, we took immediate action to have it removed from our website.”

This isn’t the first time offensive clothing has been sold by American retailers — and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last. Target got in trouble last year after selling a t-shirt for women that many thought was sexist. The article of clothing read “TROPHY” and was sold online and in stores, the Huffington Post reported. A Milwaukee woman worked to get the shirt discontinued saying it perpetuated rape culture by suggesting “that women are merely objects, not humans, to be used for men’s pleasure.” Target’s response was along the lines of “well most of our customers aren’t complaining.” You can still purchase it online.

Rape and rape culture are a big part of our national dialogue right now. A few weeks ago, Lady Gaga brought tears to the eyes of attendees at the 88th Academy Awards when she performed her Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens to You” alongside survivors of sexual assault. The song was written for the documentary The Hunting Ground — a documentary focusing on sexual assault on college campuses and the victim-blaming that occurs when survivors come forward. Which is the kind of attention Forever 21 was trying to capitalize on, according to The Cut. “Congrats, Forever 21, for using justifiable outrage over rape culture to sell more cheap shit,” Eve Peyser wrote.

It is hard to believe this design made it from concept to completion without anyone saying, “maybe we shouldn’t make shirts with a rapey vibe.” No parent should even have to think about messages like this being available for their teenagers to purchase in a store that’s in damn near every mall across the country. Forever 21 is very aware what their target market is. That this shirt made it on to the website or floor of any store is totally no okay.