I don’t need retail therapy; I need therapy because of retail, amirightladies? Judging by how their clothes fit me—or don’t fit me, if we’re parsing words here—I think I’m allergic to Forever 21. In the latest of a string of bad decisions that make up their business model, Forever Twenty One, Incorporated released a T-shirt with the words “Allergic to Algebra” screen-printed on it, presumably by the hands of female factory workers in China. Not exactly the “for us, by us” our sisters were fighting for.
Look, I get it. Men are afraid of women who are good with numbers. I’ve been overdrawing my bank account every month for the past year to show how vulnerable my stupidity makes me. I’ve drastically over-tipped every hot waiter I’ve ever had just to publicly prove how bad I am with money. At the laundromat, I make a big deal about pouring out twice the amount of recommended detergent and just to be safe, I pour it in the wrong slot. I haven’t worn a clean pair of underwear in months. But I just know that one of these days it will all pay off in the form of one man in front of me, down on one knee, holding up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra ice cream.
What’s troubling to me about the messaging on this T-shirt is that Forever 21 is a brand geared towards young, impressionable girls. Girls are so easily convinced to believe anything advertisers tell them—like the fact that we could always lose five more pounds. Just because that happens to be true—or in my case five pounds, six times over—doesn’t distract from the danger posed by products like these “Allergic to Algebra” shirts. Girl doesn’t do math, girl doesn’t get a good score on her math SAT, girl doesn’t get into college. And college is really important. Especially for women, because we all know it’s the best place for any self-respecting girl to get her MRS. And take it from someone who learned the hard way, girls, your future marriage certificate is not waiting for you in line at the make-your-own-waffle station.
Hopefully, Never-ending Nightmare One and Twenty will go the JCPenney route and pull these harmful shirts from the shelves. I’m certain they have a well-stocked inventory of more tasteful choices like pleather booty shorts or fluorescent mesh bras to fill the vacated shelves. These items will still look terrible on my body, but at least they won’t be directly hurting our young women. Give them a chance to experience the blissful ignorance of childhood before the sea of Urban Outfitters graphic tees swallows them up whole. Or in my case, barely reach my mid-section.
Let’s just go ahead and put a moratorium on any sassy T-shirts that immediately equate intelligence with undesirability in a female. Being dumb doesn’t make you attractive to men, being attractive makes you attractive to men. Turns out you can be dumb and also ugly. Maybe I should put that on a T-shirt and sell it. Or, I would if I had any business know-how. Numbahs izzz hawd, amiwightwadiez?