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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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From the T-shirts of babes
Jonathan Pait
August 21, 2001

Coming to a T-shirt near you, if you will allow it. According to an article by Dave Scheiber, a Scripps Howard news writer, we can look forward to the following “attitude” words and phrases on the T-shirts of our daughters. “Hottie, Vixen, Flame, Savage, Fire, Love hot Stuff, Devil, Boy Candy, Bad Kitty, My Boyfriend Kisses Better Than Yours,” and more.

Now, the purpose of this editorial is not to focus on the obvious point--What parents are buying these things for their kids? Obviously, kids are buying them. The article points out that one producer of these shirts will bring in 100 million dollars this year. No, the question for today is “What is it that we consider intolerable?”

The following is part of an interview conducted by Mr. Scheiber with Richard Clareman, president of Self Esteem, a popular teen apparel company.

“In the words of Howard Stern, if the parents don’t like it, we’ll sell more units,” he says. “But I will tell you, we believe we have an ethical responsibility to the market, and to our world, so there are some shirts that we eliminate.”

A boy-bashing theme bit the dust. – “‘Boys Are Losers,’ ‘Boys Lie,’ ‘Boys Cheat’ – they were incredible, but we got a lot of grief for it, so we pulled them back,” he says. “I heard it from the National Organization for Women, the children’s advocacy group. I don’t want to cause controversy.”

Okay, let’s compare.

Acceptable: Unacceptable:
  • Hottie
  • Vixen
  • Boy Candy
  • Bad Kitty
  • Objects Under This Shirt Are Larger Than They May Appear
  • Naughty Girl
  • Sexy
  • Boys Are Losers
  • Boys Lie
  • Boys Cheat

Notice that Mr. Clareman is very sensitive to his “ethical responsibility to the market, and to our world. . .” His T-shirts speak loudly about where his morals lie. Oh, boy, don’t offend the National Organization of Women! Never mind that you offend the sensibilities of thousands of people who consider the sexual morality of their daughters to be more important than the age-old battle between Junior High girls and boys.

Let’s redo the above chart.

Acceptable: Unacceptable:
  • Pre-marital sex
  • Sexual innuendoes
  • Getting as close to nudity as possible
  • Virginity
  • Respect for women
  • Modesty

“Oh, no,” you say, “that’s a little extreme. Come on, loosen up a little, you must have some repressed issues from your childhood.”

Hey, I’m not the one sending the above message—it’s your junior high daughter’s T-shirt.

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