Earlier this year, Forever 21 and J.C. Penny had problems with moms and teen girls, when they retailed their own versions of math-as-gender-warfare–t-shirts that read: Allergic to Algebra and I’m Too Pretty for Homework, So My Brother Does It for Me. Within days, the shirts disappeared from the shelves and their websites.
I wrote a guest blog post about this for Dara Chadwick’s wonderful blog You’d Be So Pretty If, which is devoted to encouraging positive body image in girls.
I was a great high school student. I did well in all of my classes (Okay, so I did fail band that one grading period because I didn’t turn in my practice sheets.). I was a responsible and eager student. But there was one subject that was a challenge for me: French.
I tried. I really did. But for whatever reason, the most romantic of all of the romance languages did not come easy. I had good teachers. I studied. I paid attention in class. But the best I could do was a low B — and that was with a lot of hard work.
Still, I didn’t have a t-shirt that read, “French Phobic.” I’ve never heard of a Barbie doll that says, “French is Hard!”
So what’s the deal with math?
Math is hard. But so is writing, reading, playing an instrument, painting, soccer, woodshop and, yes, French. In fact, if teachers and coaches are doing their jobs, students will feel challenged — which can bring up a variety of other feelings, from frustration to enthusiasm.
So what do you think about these t-shirts? Are they all in fun or bad for girls? Why does math get such a bad rap? Share your ideas in the comments section.