This post has been updated.
There’s an old soap ad for women that says, “Most men ask, ‘Is she pretty?’ not ‘Is she clever?’”
It ran in 1924.
Eighty-seven years later, J.C. Penney seemed to think the notion is still one to promote, only this time around the target was girls.
“Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out? She'll love this tee that's just as cute and sassy as she is,” the online ad read.
Mothers quickly took to the Internet in a rage.
“How is it funny to promote to young girls that what we value in them is their looks, not their brains?” Liz Gumbinner, a blogger at Mom-101 wrote, labeling the shirt a “huge fail.”
Lauren Todd, who is not a mother, but who has worked with kids for a good part of her life, saw the shirt on her friend’s Facebook page and she figured, “maybe I could send a message to corporate America.”
She started a petition at Change.org Tuesday night to “tell J.C. Penney ‘I won't shop here until you stop selling merchandise with sexist messaging.’ ”
“In a world where women are fighting for respect and equality, J.C. Penney is promoting a message in the vein of Mattel's talking Barbie who bemoaned, ‘Math is hard, let's go shopping,’ ” the petition reads. Within an hour Wendesday morning, a thousand people signed it.
Within two hours, the shirt was no longer available online at J.C. Penney.
Just after 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Todd received an email from J.C. Penney that said, “We agree that the “Too pretty” t-shirt does not deliver an appropriate message, and we have immediately discontinued its sale... We would like to apologize for any concern we may have caused.”
Kate Coultas, a spokeswoman for the company, said that the shirt was not availble in stores, and that it had been pulled from the Web site. She said the company was looking into finding out how the shirt made its way past a vetting process.