Tees emblazoned with phrases deemed offensive to women have been yanked from Abercrombie & Fitch clothing stores thanks to a group of teen girls who launched a nationwide "girlcott."
Bowing to pressure from the public and supporters of the Allegheny County Girls as Grantmakers (the group of nearly two dozen girls who spearheaded the protest), the retailer announced Friday that it is pulling two shirts off the market: one with the slogan "Gentlemen Prefer Tig Old Bitties" and a second reading, "With These, Who Needs Brains?" across the chest.
"We recognize that the shirts in question, while meant to be humorous, might be troubling to some," the company said in a statement.
Several more questionable tees — with expressions like "Blondes Are Adored, Brunettes Are Ignored," "I Had A Nightmare I Was A Brunette," "Do I Make You Look Fat" and "No Money, No Car, No Chance" — are still available but could be pulled, pending negotiations with the girls later this month. The group has offered to help A&F come up with more empowering messages to put on its clothing in the future.
The idea for the boycott came during a meeting the girls had at a retreat this summer. As they were brainstorming ideas of what they could do to make a difference in their community, discussion soon shifted to the Abercrombie tees, which many of them saw as "nasty and disgusting," said 13-year-old Jettie Fields, the group's co-chair.
"There's a certain degree to where those shirts can be funny, but with the one that said, 'With These, Who Needs Brains?,' I think that's really pushing it and takes it too far," Fields said. "Girls need to know it's not necessary to wear these shirts, and that if they stop buying them, then Abercrombie will stop selling them."
The group held a press conference and then was blown away by the amount of support and media coverage the boycott received, Fields said. "We had no idea it would get this far, so we're all just really happy," she said. "I was like, 'Wow, people are actually taking us seriously. They don't just see as a group of little girls.' The fact that we were able to take down a huge corporation and have them listen to us, that's an awesome victory."
"We are delighted they won," said Sarah Gould, president of the Ms. Foundation for Women. "These T-shirts ... are potentially dangerous to girls and their health because it reinforces the message that girls are only as good as what their bodies are, and that's very undermining to a girl's healthy development. This girlcott just proves that today's teen girl is much smarter, more aware and very socially active. She won't blindly follow a trend or wear clothes from a brand just because it is deemed 'cool.' "
This isn't the first time Abercrombie has come under fire for the phrases on its clothing. In 2003 the chain was criticized for a series of tees that featured caricatures of Asians along with phrases like "Two Wongs Can Make It White" (in a mock dry-cleaning business ad) and "Get Your Buddha On The Floor."