Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Kids' Graphic Tees Can Stop Having a Moment

I'm trying to do a better job of looking for the bright spot in what seems like a bad situation. Take for example all the cold, snowy weather that we've had the last few months. Yes, it was very stressful and maddening to have the children home from school for basically all of January and February, but look at it this way: less of an opportunity to get lice, a lower probability of contracting a stomach bug, and as long as it stays cold you can postpone spring clothes shopping. This last item is key, because have you seen some of the options for children's clothing? I'm pretty sure that I've stumbled onto what is corrupting America's youth, and it's the graphic t-shirt. In other news, get off my lawn.

But really, please look at this:

Okay, so Target may have pulled this shirt out of stores because of complaints, but still, someone thought that Rainbow Bright, Robin Thicke's rapey song, and Flashdance-styling would all combine to form a perfect little girl's shirt.

The boys don't fair all that well either. They get the likes of this:

Who decided that it is cute to see kids wearing clothes emblazoned with sassy, dated pop-culture references? It's like some executive at Wal-Mart said, "Classy clothes, ain't nobody got time for that!"

Another Wal-Mart shirt and I'm not sure what this one even means:

Don't kids know when they're being pandered to? Don't they care? This just smacks of some adult taking everything he perceives kids to like and throwing them all in a shirt. "Can we have a shirt with epic, zombies, ninjas, and swag? Yes, we can!" I bet he was totally fired for not getting "Oh snap!" in the same shirt. But, no worries, he got it in this one:

Basically all the boys' shirts that don't involve super heroes have some kind of pop-culture reference that adults think that kids will like. Preferably these shirts also include bad grammar. Example:

Or a message which endorses or condones behaviors that no sane parent would want to encourage:


What message is this sending to little boys? It's funny and cute to be a lazy, lay-about, with bad grammar who doesn't do homework? Why, yes, in fact that's what makes your swag so sick! LOL!

So, what do the graphic tees tell us about little girls? Well, of course they're princesses...

These poor princesses are in deep trouble because all their American princes are busy getting out of doing homework, frittering their life away playing video games, and bragging about their swag. They'd better hope that some nice foreign prince who has been taught the importance of hard-work and industry saves them from a future of being the Princess of the Late Shift at Cracker Barrel. Or, of course the little princesses could get themselves educations and make their own way in the world because they're more than a pretty face. Right?

Oh, that's just me being silly because only homely princesses need to go to school. Cute girls have a whole other path to success, as long as they don't get taken in by a "modeling agent" who just wants to take a few "art photos" of them for their portfolio. Sigh, #cutegirlproblems.

Oh, wait, there's a shirt for that:

Wal-Mart is getting every penny out of that Sleeping Beauty image, as she's performing double duty on this shirt:

I think this message is fundamentally false. Kate Middleton looks cute in a tiara because she's an actual duchess. Regular people who wear tiaras, look like beauty pageant contestants. Not that this necessarily excludes these same people from looking cute, but more often they look a little desperate.

But, some of the shirts do try to send the message that beauty is more than just skin deep. "Try" being the operative word here:

I know this says "beautiful in every way," but given that Barbie is striking a cover girl pose and is not shown, say, working at a soup kitchen or volunteering at a hospital, I'm fairly sure what the take-away message for little girls is going to be.

Just when you thought the girls' graphic tees were just Barbie and princess-centric, we have this choice, which is more like the boy's shirts in its exploitation of how adults perceive that kids talk:

The best thing about this shirt is that it comes with this review:

SMH. I just am going to give a big ole bless your heart to that reviewer. 

Do you all think I'm being too harsh? What do you think when you see kids in shirts like these? Would you get them for your kids? 


  1. Is the swag what I think it is? Oh snap, indeed!

    1. I was listening to sports radio this morning (don't ask) and the hosts were talking about the meaning of "swag." They decided it meant both free stuff and was also a shortened form of swagger. I think that Tracy Morgan said it on SNL, which explains its current ubiquity.

  2. No. No comment. And, no. All of this scares me. I've been thinking of late about when the word "swag" started getting so much fanfare. Last year or two? It's just making kids want more and more cheap, useless crap. BTW, "beast" is now the new "sick." At least that's what I'm hearing in my car among boys ages 10-12.

    1. See above for discussion of the etymology of swag. Beast, huh? I've had all three kids say, "oh snap!" At first it was cute, but now it makes my skin crawl.

  3. Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. cute tees