Forever 21

Are Math-Hating Shirts Sending the Wrong Message to Girls?

Written on September 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm , by

Have you noticed the Math-Hating fashion trend hitting stores this Fall?

First it was JCPenney’s “I’m too pretty to do homework” sweater and last week it was their possibly sexist shirt for tweens that declares Boys, Shopping, Dancing and Music as a girl’s best subjects (see our Momster Discussion on the topic). Now it’s Forever 21′s “Allergic to Algebra” tees. Can’t a girl catch a break?

When I saw the first of these shirts, I didn’t think much of it. I shop at both of those stores all the time, so I shrugged it off.

But then there was another. And another. Is this a thing now? Is it OK to make fun of girls for not being great at math?

I’ll admit that I am not the best at math. In fact, I always say I hate math and joke to my friends that there’s a good reason I’m in publishing. When the check comes at the end of the night, it takes the combined power of my iPhone calculator and my fingers to count how much I owe.

Yes, I still count on my fingers and I’m not ashamed that math isn’t one of my strong suits. I have plenty of other skills to make up for it. And yes, I hated algebra. But would I want to wear that on my chest? I don’t think so. Maybe being bad at math is something I should be working on improving instead of making fun.

Are these shirts sending the wrong message?

I know plenty of women who are strong at math. Great at it, even. Both of my paternal grandparents were math professors and my grandma actually wrote a math book that’s still being used in Universities today. She wasn’t allergic to Algebra, for sure. And I’m sure she would appreciate the Math Prize for Girls competition this Saturday, Sept 17th, on the MIT Campus more than she would appreciate this fashion trend.

What about you? Did you have strong women role models growing up? Are you one for your daughter? And what do you think of these tees– are they just annoying, really fashionable or a little bit offensive? Share in the comments below!