Forever 21′s ‘Allergic to Algebra’ Shirt Draws Criticism

Sep 12, 2011 11:45am
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(Forever 21)

A Forever 21 shirt with the words “Allergic to Algebra” printed on the front is the latest shirt to draw criticism for its seemingly anti-education message for girls and teenagers.

One shopper posted a photo on Reddit.com, a social news website, of the shirt on a mannequin with a neon green note attached to it with the message: “SMART girls are cool. Don’t buy this top.”

Many comments on Reddit.com expressed disdain for the shirt.

“It’s a big deal because there is still this childish perception — among females AND males – that girls can’t do math,” wrote a commenter by the handle mikgyver. “I can’t tell you how many times, as a girl who’s good at math, that I’ve been accused of ‘trying to be a guy’ when I get good grades in math.”

Another commenter, called “kadhai” and self-identified as a “student of mathematics,” wrote, “I’m curious as to what the story behind this top is, and who thought it would be a good idea to put something so offensive as this on a shirt.”

“Our merchandise is intended to appeal to all audiences, not to offend them,” Linda Chang, a senior marketing manager for Forever 21, told ABCNews.com in a statement. “We would like to apologize to our customers as our intent was not to discredit education and we are taking the proper actions necessary.”

The company told ABCNews.com that it is pulling the shirt from its website.

The trendy, Los Angeles-based retailer is popular among teenagers and the shirt is being sold for $12.80. There were no shirts that alluded to education in the men’s section of the website.

And the algebra shirt isn’t the only one on the website that seems to be down on school.

One shirt blatantly declares “Skool sucks” and another shirt has a list on the front that reads: “A+=amazing, B=brilliant, C=cool, D=delightful, F=fabulous.” The website’s tagline for selling the shirt is “F doesn’t always mean fail!”

One shirt seemed promising with the message, ”I heart school” emblazoned on the front, but a photo of the back reveals the rest of the message: “not…”

The “Allergic to Algebra” Forever 21 shirt follows a controversial and similarly themed shirt from JCPenney.

Less than two weeks ago, JCPenney pulled a shirt from its website that drew sharp criticism from consumers calling it “sexist.” The girls’ shirt read: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

After a Change.org petition was created to remove the shirt, the company obliged and apologized to its customers. “We want to apologize to our customers,” Ann Marie Bishop, a spokeswoman for JCPenney, told ABCNews.com. “We agreed that the shirt does not deliver an appropriate message.”

 

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