Thursday, June 2, 2011

Too Pretty To Do Math?!

Last week reader Sara P. posted a link to this t-shirt on the Epbot Facebook page, along with
the remark, "I weep for females everywhere."

"I'm too pretty to do math"??

I'm weeping with you, Sara.

I mean, hey, I think I've got a decent sense of humor, and a lot of the stuff that draws fire from feminists doesn't really bother me, but this? This bothers me. (I should note it's only available in womens' junior sizes - along with "Sugar Daddy Wanted.")

Maybe I'm just getting cranky in my old age.

Maybe I wouldn't mind so much if the shirt was even remotely amusing.

Or maybe - just maybe - we women should stop shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot by wearing idiotic t-shirts that reinforce degrading stereotypes OF OURSELVES.

But maybe that's just me.

This is from David & Goliath, by the way, a huge, mostly-juniors t-shirt company with lots of adorable designs along with stuff like "ask me about my meth lab" - but I'm not advocating any kind of backlash against them. The fact is, if no one buys shirts like these, companies will stop making them. So, for the sake of intelligent people everywhere, just don't buy it.

In fact, if you want to make a joke about your lack of math skills, why not do it with something like this?

via NoiseBot (available in women's sizes)

Or these?

By the way, the "too pretty" shirt is on clearance, so we can hope most of David & Goliath's clientele have a little too much self-respect to keep it in production. Fingers crossed, anyway.

So tell me, guys, what do you think? Is the shirt harmless fun, or putting women back a few decades? And while you're at it: what's your favorite smart/funny tee? Share your links in the comments, so we can make the world a better place... through shopping. :D


  1. Oh, my goodness, this one (in the form of a magnet) is raising a lot of hackles amongst female science bloggers. (And male science bloggers, too, for that matter.)

    Here's Tara Smith's take on it...And here's Pharyngula's take...And Isis the scientist's take.

    You can get introduced to some "there, there, it's no big deal, don't worry your pretty head" commenters, some nice condescension, and "mansplaining" about how there's really no institutional sexism in our society.

    Fun and games!

    For further fun, just go into the toy section of Target, WalMart, ToysRUs, and check out the "pink" aisle versus the "blue" aisle.

    Or take a look at this little juxtaposition.

    You've come a long way, baybeeee!

  2. UGH. I hate that first t-shirt. Your versions were awesome and I love the last one! There is no way, my child would be seen wearing the too pretty for math version. Talk about perpetuating the stereotype!

  3. Wow. I find it as offensive as you. It's so unfortunate that our society encourages the importance of looks and discourages intelligence. Why can't you be pretty and kick ass at math? Better yet, why can't being smart be far more important than being pretty. Stuff like this gets me riled, big time.

    As a parent to a teenage boy, I do everything in my power to make him value women for the stuff that really matters. It's incredibly difficult because the fact of the matter is, he goes to school with too many girls who live my this shirt's philosophy. The girls aren't just belittling themselves, they're teaching boys to do it too.

    I'm with Sara P., I weep for women everywhere.

  4. Snorg Tees is my fave cheeky/clever clothing site, wish they had a UK version. I tend to prefer the word play ones "Comma Comma Comma Chameleon" or "Becoming a Vegetarian is a big Missed Steak!" but maths wise it's gotta be Your Tan Line Is Showing (Hope I linked that right... long time since I did any HTML...)

  5. Helen the Snowy OwlJune 2, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Well, David and Goliath were also the ones who sold the "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" teeshirt a few years ago. I can't work out if that huge lump in their cheek is their tongue or their foot! ;o)

    I would say that it annoys me. But I've been railing against "maths is hard" for so long now that I just can't be bothered to be annoyed by one teeshirt. I'll stick to indoctrinating my Brownie Guide pack and my youth group that science is fun, useful and no more difficult than anything else and attempt to effect change that way.

    Having said that, I'd be so tempted to buy the teeshirt and wear it to Maths tutorials if I was still a Physics undergrad >:->

    My favourite teeshirt is actually an apron (though teeshirts are available) Baking is Science... although having just been to the website, I'd forgotten that I also like "Aerodynamically curvaceous"

  6. I think the saying is funny if said in conversation.
    I've actually said things like that when I'm having a bad day and can't figure out how to amortize the cost of an item for a customer. HOWEVER...
    On a tee-shirt it's just not clever.
    I think I'm more offended that there is a lack of creativity on that shirt than I am at the actual saying.
    And if I saw anyone wearing it, I probably wouldn't even register that is was worthy of my attention.

  7. I currently have an MS in Pure Mathematics and while working on my undergrad degree I owned the tank top version of that "I'm too pretty to do math" shirt. I thought it was funny.

    I currently own a "Pi by Numbers" t-shirt.

  8. It's horrible. I have a son, and I'm going to do my best to teach him that any girl that wears a T-shirt like that isn't worth his attention, no matter how pretty she is.

  9. Oh, boo! Lousy t-shirt! I mean, I'll take a book over a proof any day, but there's no need to insult myself with my own clothes. Ew. I would never let my daughter wear something like that, but then again, my favorite t-shirt is not exactly age-appropriate for the tween set, either:

  10. I don't care much for the math t-shirt myself. It might be funny if a man wore it.

    My favorite t-shirt isn't commercially available, unfortunately. Back in the dark ages when I lived in Chicago and Jane Byrne was mayor, she visited Hull House. They gave her a shirt that said "Jane Addams ran a Hull of a house". A little social work humor.

    My other favorite one from my Chicago years was "I shoveled the blizzard of '79". Much better than the "I survived the blizzard of " shirts.

  11. I don't care much for math, but I don't think it has anything to do with my gender. Here's a much more appropriate alternative for non-mathy people, coincidentally another mental_floss shirt. Nothing to be ashamed of there!

  12. I agree with you Jen, although math certainly was NOT my fav subject in school, this shirt sucks!!....When I'm looking for a good geek shift, I like to browse maternity shirts especially make me laugh each time!!!

  13. I think that, properly applied, it's a funny shirt. In fact, I bought one (and the matching pj pants) a few years ago for a good friend. Hi-larious because math is her job.

    But walking down the street? Probably not as funny.

  14. That shirt is horrific. It's as bad as the "Math Is Hard" Barbie Doll. I like anything at Think Geek but these are some of my favorites...

    Heroine: Marie Curie t-shirt

    Stand Back (Science) t-shirt

    Tech Support t-shirt

    Science, it works bitches t-shirt

  15. When I read that shirt, I think "yeah, but pretty doesn't last--math does." So the girl who's good at math is most likely going to be far more successful in reaching her own dreams than the pretty girl who doesn't do math.

    Honestly, I have learned that the majority of women are not going to go for this kind of humor. Women/girls who buy stuff like this are pigeon-holing themselves, not the whole of womanhood. They are making the choice to dumb themselves down. Sure, maybe we could protest D&G for providing the shirt, but they're not to blame--they aren't putting a gun to anyone's head to buy it. They've found a niche where they can make money, and I can't blame them. I have the same feeling about tobacco companies--they aren't walking around shoving cigarettes in kids' mouths and forcing them to smoke. It's a choice. It's up to the consumer to make the decision to buy the product or not and decide what kind of impact it will have on them. We need to stop blaming everyone else for our issues and start taking responsibility and making changes within ourselves. That's where society can make itself better.

    But on to the topic at hand...

    This is my all time favorite shirt. I own it. (And yes, I am against most forms of animal testing. And many forms of human testing, especially the AIMS test.)

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  17. I think it would depend on who's wearing it...if it's an adult woman who's a scientist and she wears it to make her friends laugh, that's one thing. If it's a young teen who doesn't understand how she's sterotyping herself, that's something else all together!

    I think you'd like this blog post on the topic:

  18. Ugh! That shirt definitely makes me mad, too. It is just perpetuating a mean and sad stereotype that women can't do math. That's just silly.

    I really liked those other shirts, though; mostly the pointless one.

  19. that is shameful
    in college I wore my
    Mathematicians Do It Rigorously shirt, and I have now given it to my daughter (age 22) who wears it proudly

  20. that is shameful
    in college I wore my
    Mathematicians Do It Rigorously
    tshirt, and now my college daughter proudly wears it too

  21. I think it's degrading. However... it reminds me of this story about my all-so-geekily-smart niece who wasn't so bright as a toddler. We used to tell her at least she was pretty! Heh, and now she's 14 in a special school for too-smart-kids and has a heart as big as her brain.
    I wonder if the math geek girls wore this would it actually make it funny? Probably not...

  22. Agreed! This kind of stuff frustrates the snot out of me! Women have enough to deal with without shirts like this encouraging negative stereotypes. If you gotta announce something about your looks across your chest, do it with one of these!

    BTW, as always, thanks for the great blog! Reading it always makes my day!

  23. I don't think it's offensive or putting women back a few decades but I also don't think it's funny.

  24. I wouldn't mind so much if they also had a boy's version along the lines of "I'm too much of a stud to do math." Or similar. It's double standards that make me angry. Being a girl has nothing to do with how good you are at bath, and being a boy has nothing to do with how good you are with English. The only reason boys and girls tend to score higher or lower in those subjects, respectively, is because society is unconsciously placing an expectation that they should. Something really needs to be done about the rampant (although, granted, unwitting) segregation of all kinds of diversity in public schools.

    That said, I love that "Find x" shirt. Totally suits me! I'm constantly being mocked for my math skills.

  25. As a female engineer working in a VERY male dominated industry, stuff like this makes me sick. Gender equality has NOT been achieved in the workplace and anyone who says otherwise is completely out to lunch. Sure, women are being hired to do traditionally male jobs, but in order to achieve respect in the corporate workplace, especially in a male dominated workplace, women cannot be "feminine." Women cannot show emotions. Women cannot show sensitivity.

    The thing that gets me the most is that in my workplace, it would be more respected for a male worker to flip out on his subordinates and destroy his office when he got upset than it would be for a woman to show any emotion (i.e. cry) when she was upset. That tiny example to me says that the sexes, or more specifically certain traits that are stereotypically (and biologically) more "masculine" or "feminine" (i.e. aggression vs. emotion), are not respected on the same level in the workplace.

    How do we fix this? By getting more women into male dominated careers like math and science and engineering. What causes impressionable young girls to think twice about going into one of these careers? Statements like this one reinforcing that it is not "feminine" to do math.

  26. You are not overreacting. That shirt is despicable. Sadly, it's also just the kind of thing my 14 year old niece would love. *sigh*

    ThinkGeek is my favorite place for geeky girly shirts. I have this one which I absolutely adore. And the IT guy shirt makes me smile, but it isn't me. I do adore it, though.

    On a completely different level of geekitude, my current favorite shirt is the Edgar Allan Crow design from threadless. I don't even mind that I have to explain it to all of my co-workers every time I wear it. (And yes, I do mean explain it again and again to the same people.)

  27. Guh. As a girl who is damn pretty, I resent the implication that I somehow shouldn't do math. Especially as I JUST graduated with a degree in mathematics, so I can be a high school math teacher, and teach EVERYONE to do math.

    It makes it worse that it's David and Goliath. Their CEO, Todd Goldman, has a lot of accusations against him for stealing art. Judging by things like this, they seem pretty damn true:
    and this:

    So yeah. Dear David and Goliath company: Class up! Stop using stolen art, and stop reinforcing negative stereotypes!


  28. Maybe if the back said something like "...and too smart not to."

  29. it would be used as a rag for my paint brushes if it was free. That's about all it is worth!

  30. LOVE the way that you addressed this. And the t-shirt ideas that you posted were WAY better.

  31. THANK YOU!! As the mother of two girls, I'm so utterly tired of expounding on the wonders of what we women can do to my eldest daughter (1st grade) only to have someone else demolish that concept with what seems like a funny show or harmless comment from an older family member. What an older girl is wearing also makes a big impression on her 7 year old mind.
    And I agree--I'm not for limited someone's right to print these shirts but I'm all for making a statement to their bank accounts by not buying them.
    Thanks, Jen and keep it coming-I love your blogs without hesitation :)

  32. Ugh. Remember the talking Barbie that would say "Math is hard", among other things? Yeah, this shirt sucks. There are SO MANY great, funny shirts out there, I couldn't pick one (I like your examples), though I did find this one funny:

  33. These stereotypes do negatively affect girls and should absolutely be as verboten as racial slurs. Check out Stereotype Threat if you're unclear. We're having a hard enough time evening out the number of women in maths/sciences/engineering. We don't need this attitude that it's OK for women to go around saying essentially, "I don't need to be smart 'cause I'm pretty." It's great for girls to think of themselves as beautiful but that shouldn't come at the expense of their intelligence or their willingness to learn. /endrant

  34. I don't currently have any smart tees myself, but my kids have "Invincible", "Super Hero in Training", "Awesome", "I rule (with a ruler pictured)" and "Cool" (with the sign language letters above the words). I like those. I don't like the little baby or kid t-shirts that allude to a child being sexy. I also don't care for the ones that refer to what a brat the child is. You know, the ones that say something like "All Daddy wanted was a blow job" or "Little Devil" or even the "Princess of Everything" genre.

    Shelley in So. Illinois

  35. I completely get what you're saying, and I totally grok your concerns about perpetuating degrading gender stereotypes, and I can't see myself ever wearing a shirt like this.

    That said, as a reasonably intelligent female who is tragically math-challanged, I may be borrowing this phrase in the future. If we can't laugh at our own flaws, where's the fun?

  36. I tend to have a really thick skin about stuff like this. So, in my opinion, if this shirt was available in all sizes and had a male version (bonus points for leaving the word "pretty" on it, but an "I'm too handsome to do math" would be acceptable to me) I wouldn't be so tweaked about it.


    Since it is only available in female junior sizes, that tells me the manufacturer doesn't see this as a joke and thinks that teen girls are, in fact, dumb and only concerned about their looks.

    It could have been OK, but alas... it is not.

  37. Gross. As a youngster, a fellow classmate helpfully told me that I should stop doing so well in math so that boys would like me. Uh no. I just ended up finding a guy who likes really smart women.

    BTW, what's up with the fashion of wearing body hugging pants with stuff written across women's bottoms? The words "tacky" and "low rent" come to mind.

  38. Urgh, I hate that people think it's cool to be bad at maths. I graduate with a degree in accounting and finance in five weeks and whenever I tell people what I study they always reply 'urgh, I can't do maths' (not that it's all maths, but that's decide the point!). You'd never have people saying if I was studying English 'I can't read, I'm practically illiterate'!!

    Maths is important and cool!

  39. yikes! As a former math major (I've only changed about 5 times...) and high school varsity mathlete, I am completely saddened by that shirt. I don't expect all girls everywhere to be awesome at math. Not even remotely good at math. But the stereotype that girls who are pretty either aren't or don't need to be educated, regardless of the field of education... well, it really gets my knickers in a bunch.

  40. I guess I would see that on someone and wonder why they're advertising themselves as stupid....

  41. I actually find this shirt to be amusing, but I think that has more to do with my background. I am a geek girl who recently graduated from an engineering university. As a result, the male:female ratio is very unbalanced, and almost all the girls are geeks.

    Now because it is an engineering school, everyone has to take certain math courses, even if their degree is in, say, psychology. And not everybody is very good at math, especially myself and my (many) female colleagues in my major. Combining the fact that there are so few girls here (we say, "The odds are goods, but the goods are odd."), with the fact that I would do ANYTHING to get out of doing math, I see that shirt as pretty ironic.

    I'd find it much more offensive if it was something like, "I'm too pretty to fly a plane," or maybe, "I'm too pretty to perform surgery."

  42. Why?!

    It bugs me that someone is making these, but it also bugs me that some people wear their "inability" to do math as a sort of badge of honor. I've never heard anyone brag about being illiterate, but lots of people will tell you (with something bordering on pride) that they "can't do math."


  43. Yep, hatin' it. Against stereotypes of all kinds - hence I'm participating in SlutWalk LA tomorrow. You can be drop-dead gorgeous and brilliant at math, even if there's the social perception that "pretty girls don't need math."

    SlutWalk is about, if you've heard a twisted version, busting the myth that girls/women who dress like "sluts" are "asking" to be raped/assaulted. Uh, NO. Nobody is "asking for it," and yet, men, women & children get raped anyway, even those NOT dressed like sluts. Will be posting on rape myths tomorrow at: Writing in Flow

  44. There are lots more positive t-shirts for girls at Pigtail Pals. Great juxtapositions like "When you wish upon a star" under a drawing of a girl astronaut or "I broke a nail" with a girl construction worker. No math ones yet, but they've also got police officer, fire fighter, military, race car driver...

  45. Here's my most recent favorite -- girly, but not denigrating.,342610836

    We love math in our house, by the way, and just roll our eyes at this sort of stuff.

  46. I'm more confused over who does find that funny, because I'm not even mildly amused by it. I'm not offended, just... confused.

  47. Ugh - I teach math, and I hate shirts like this. I also hate when parents say, "I'm not good at math, so what can I expect from my child."

    Really? Last time that I checked, math skills were not in the genetic makeup of a child. Quit giving your child an excuse to fail.

    I do, however, love this book - super hottie and math skills. :)

    "Come to the dork side. We have pi."

  48. My favorite twitter response to this was, "Someone is too dumb to write slogans.". I can't find the tweet to give proper attribution, but it summed up my feelings pretty well.

  49. As a gamer girl who just last night was subjected to a slew of 'make me a sammich' and 'drugged girls can't say no' "jokes" in a chat channel, I can't help but wonder what men who make comments like that would see when they see a girl wearing a shirt like that. And then I feel nauseated. I am in hate with that shirt.

    But then I remember ThinkGeek's awesome Heroines line, and how they were only in female sizes when they first introduced it, and how a bunch of men were sad because they wanted to wear them, too, and I feel just a little bit better.

  50. I think more than anything, I'm just TIRED of stuff like this. I mean, aren't we over all this "girls can't do math" stuff? BO-RING and not at all clever. I'd love to see the day that a shirt like this just receives a blank look. "Huh?"

    The shirt that made me laugh out loud was this one from Wondermark, "The Revolution will not be telegraphed" (in case the link doesn't work)--I love the art on it:

    I mention it also in honor of the recent passing of Gil Scott-Heron . . .

  51. I don't get offended often either but I totally agree with you on this one. I would never let my daughters wear shirts like that.

  52. I think that posts and people flipping out the way they are cause more harm than the shirt itself. The implication here being that if you plan on being a ~real woman~ you better embrace maths and sciences, otherwise you're just reinforcing stereotypes and setting back women's rights by years. What if a woman really is bad at math or science? Some people just aren't good at it. Should they be forced to be embarrassed of their other attributes? Maybe they are really good at English. Maybe they want to be a model. Maybe they can knit a blanket in record time. WHO CARES?! They are just as much women as ones that are good at math and science.

    And it's ironic that this post and the comments are reinforcing OTHER stereotypes while raging against that one. The last line of the post does it, with the bold and italic "by shopping" at the end. Because obviously it would just be ~SO GREAT~ if we could all do the one thing that women just ~LOVE~ to do in order to prove to everyone that stereotypes are just sick.
    Not to mention the commenters who proudly claim that they would ~NEVER ALLOW~ their daughters to wear such a shirt. Because we cannot possibly let a silly girl make her own choices. No way. If they don't agree, they are wrong.

    If a woman chooses to wear a shirt like that (key word being "chooses") then that is her choice. Maybe we should hear her side of the story - HER REASONS - for wearing it before we assume that she is leading a sad, pigeon-holed existence.

  53. It just goes to show that you have a very educated blog audience, if you didn't already know that. ;) I agree, that for certain people, it would be funny, but if its meant as a slur against smart women, then we should go burn every single shirt, clearance or no!

  54. I had to ask myself "What Would Sulu Do?" about this one. Which reminds me that I need to order the little Sulu(h)s some of those shirts. And mine is getting a little ratty already.

    Live long and prospere, my geek sisteren.

  55. @ Anony - you have some excellent points, but I just want to clarify: I never meant to imply that you have to embrace math as a woman. More that you shouldn't use your *gender* as an excuse - because you're right: everyone's different, & we're not all great at math. That's why I featured the "find x" shirt; it's basically saying "I'm not good at math," but in a more intelligent, humorous, and non-gender-based way.

    Also, I added the shopping line as a fun little nod to the fact that not all stereotypes are awful. Is it a stereotype? Sure. But shopping isn't necessarily a negative thing. If someone assumes I like to shop because I'm a girl, that doesn't bother me. If they assume I'm less intelligent because I'm a girl, THEN we have a problem.

  56. I would have to say if I ever saw a girl where that shirt I would want to take them aside and be like "honey come on now, I don't even know you but you have got to be smarter than that"
    But for great geeky, artsy and funny T-shirts is awesome!

  57. Can I just digress for a minute to point out that there is a rounding error on the "easy as pi" shirt?

  58. I'm mostly just restating what's already been said...

    But I do think the shirt is problematic. I get that some people may wear it as an in-joke because they are really good at math and whatnot, but that's pretty clearly not the way that it's intended by the manufacturers, and probably not by the majority of people wearing it.

    But even being subtly reminded that girls aren't supposed to be good at math, or that pretty girls shouldn't have to work... it bothers me. It bothers me when I see those attitudes expressed very literally, and even these "humorous" reminders don't sit well with me. It's stuff that has real consequences for a lot of women and girls, it's stuff that's negatively impacted me in my life, and being told to just brush it off because it's "just a joke" doesn't work for me.

  59. That is horrible! Why would anyone think that is appropriate?

    I do like the "find X" shirt, which one of the math teachers at my son's school has on the wall. But yeah, if you want to joke about math skills, that is much better! I am so glad I am raising my son without these sexual stereotypes.

  60. I don't tend to get irked by the same things that get stereotypical feminists up in arms either.

    That said, as a woman in computer science (more accurately, as a woman, period) that shirt is particularly degrading.

    It's not just that it's insulting, it's that whoever buys that kind of shirt obviously thinks it's cool or funny to be dumb or doesn't value their own skills. It's completely self deprecating and just sad.

    As for funny tees, I think most of the one's at Think Geek are pretty great. My favs:

    Aperture 1940s
    Hadron Collider

    And, of course:
    Ada Lovelace

  61. I actually say that! I don't think it's offensive and I don't see how it's putting women back at all. It's not like it's saying that women are too stupid to do math.

    I'm in a real estate class, and a lot of what we learn is math. I was never good at math and a lot of the people in the class have been out of school for a while so they're rusty on their math too. One day after we first started to learn the math, I said to everyone on a break, "I think some people are just too pretty to need to know math." It got chuckles from everyone, men and women. And I don't think it really just applies to women, men can be pretty too!

    I don't see what is so offensive about it. I don't think it's belittling anyone. I say "too pretty to know math" because I think I'm pretty, not because (or just because) I'm bad at math. I think the people who make it an offensive statement are the ones who see it as offensive. If everyone laughed, it would just be funny. And if there are any guys out there who don't get the joke that an empowered, strong woman can wear a ridiculous t-shirt, I don't want to know them.

  62. There are too many bumps on my head from the glass ceiling for me to ever want to wear a shirt that demeans a woman's intelligence in anyway.

    Erica B. I LOVE your quote and I plan to plagiarize it. :0D

    The cake may be a lie, but pi goes on forever!

  63. I am offended as a math teacher, a female in general, and darnit, a pretty female!

  64. I'm an English major. I just don't like math. Granted, it doesn't mean I can't do math. I made a 3 on the College Board AP Calculus AB Exam. I was 1.) surprised because of how much I left blank on the free responses and 2.) extremely grateful because it got me out of college math classes. I think I had this slogan as a flair on facebook because I thought it was funny. I could do the math, I just don't like it.

    What I do love, though, is science. I was sad when my AP score in Biology got me out of college science classes because the school I go to has some awesome Science professors. I love to do home "experiments" just to see what will happen and I like researching science based topics about language (like linguistic development in children).

    I'm also a huge Star Trek dork. I'm currently wearing my Star Fleet Academy Dept. of Xenolinguistics shirt proudly (Star Trek and English humor all wrapped up in one. Gotta love it!).

  65. Hi from a cranky old lady. We,women, were making stride in the world. ZPG was on it's way to stopping an over populated world. That sort of thing. Then came Madonna. The it was ok to be something to be used and mocked. Most of the readers might be too young to recall (or perhaps owned) the "Boy Toy" clothes. I lament so many things that followed. The color of the toy does not determine it's value. I know many strong women who adore pink. So it goes..

  66. See, I can't even read these comments, because I spend way too much money on clever t-shirts. 'Too Pretty To Do Math' is not one such clever shirt. >.> If you added something like 'Just pretty enough for Philosophy/Physics/Economics' or some other such topic, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

  67. I see math and I freak out- it just doesn't make sense to me. So when I add improperly or ask people for answers, I always finish with "Math is the reason I went to Art School."

  68. I have a Bachelor's in physics and a Master's in Education and I my final project was a 40-page literature review on women in physics. Stereotypes abound on many levels, and one I found was that if a woman wasn't in academics, she wasn't seen as "doing physics".

    I think the true point is that the choices need to be open--to everyone.

  69. why am i now singing 'drive in movoes and dashboard lights'?

  70. why am i now singing 'Drive in movies and dashboard lights'?

    "Can't you see she needed more than
    "Oh what a pretty child"
    You never taught her truth from lie
    All you told her was to smile"

    "Someone should have told her
    When beauty's all you offer
    How soon the world discovers
    That your beauty's gone..
    It's gone"

    apologies if this turns up twice....

  71. Wow, I can't even express how much I hate that "too pretty to do math" shirt, and that's saying a lot.

    This is a pic of me from "a while back". I think it qualifies as "pretty". At the time I was a teaching assistant for courses like statistics and research design and development. About 2 years after that pic I took a job where the responsibilities included accounting. I'm now self-employed, which still means doing accounting.

    I think the idea that someone is too attractive to do *anything* is just repulsive.

  72. Hate that tshirt. I made collage tshirts for the daughters of a friend. I got photos off the itnernet off all their favorite things. All three had American Girls dolls. One had a math equation as she loves math. Another had a photo of herself at a swim meet. Another a soccer ball. I don't imagine any of the three will EVER wear a shirt like this. And if they tried they'd be getting stern lectures from their mothers as to why they won't be allowed to wear them. If either of my sons brought home a girl wearing a shirt like that I'd give her an interrogation that would make my sons die of embarrasment. My current favorite tshirt is one I got at Cafe Press with a cartoon kitten and a verse from Sheldon's "Soft Kitty" song on Big Bang Theory. I wear it with the keylime pi earrings I bought after you posted a photo of them here. Somehow I don't think either of my boys will be drawn to the type of girl that would wear a shirt like that (well, once they got past the hormonal surge if she was really cute). I'm looking forward to some kick ass daughter's in law.

  73. Long time reader, first time poster!

    The girls who are buying this shirt are actually doing the rest of us a favor: they're just letting us know what to expect! And giving us an opportunity to steer clear of them and avoid what would sure to be a painful social interaction!

    I have a Cafepress shop, Engineer Wear, that is pretty much devoted to nerdy (mostly engineering) t-shirts: .

    One of my favorites is pretty "cute":

  74. It's kind of dumb, and I would never wear it. However I do often say I'm too pretty for jail, so I can't complain. (I'm not actually in jail, I promise!) I love that Find the X shirt!!

  75. Hate this shirt. I will say though, that as an English Ph.D., one of my favorite phrases is "English Major: You Do the Math" which I saw on a shirt once. I did great in math in school but it isn't a favorite subject.

    This might be because while in 8th grade I had an old guy teacher who came over to see how I was doing in math class. I had an A in the class. I had finished all my homework in class and was sitting there working ahead. He came over and asked me how I was doing. I said, "Fine but I don't like Math." He said, "That's okay. Girls aren't any good at math anyways."

    I remember being floored by this.

  76. I think the "Too pretty" T-Shirt is appalling. I have a cousin who taught her young daughter to respond to "You’re so pretty" comments with "And I'm smart too!" I think that's just great.

    My favorite t-shirt says: Please don't interrupt me while I'm ignoring you

  77. I'd like to think that this kind of t-shirt could just be seen in a "haha, how funny, because of course that's completely ridiculous" way but unfortunately I see so many little ways that certain stereotypes are reinforced and perpetuated among the most tiny children.

    My niece loves pink, Disney, and princesses. I wasn't into pink and fluffy as a kid, but I can see that among children who have yet to get to the stage where they can understand that how you look doesn't determine your gender, a bit of stereotypical stuff can be a reassurance about their identity. But the message of "if you're pretty enough, one day a prince will rescue you" is hard to escape. I desperately want to tell her about female scientists, astronauts, authors, artists and explorers to even it up a bit, but she's too young to fully understand and appreciate that yet.

    I love this t-shirt, it's subtle, geeky and silly. (like me)

  78. @robyriker, love your shirts. I might need to get one of the periodic table shirts. I like "nerdy" the best. My 8 yr old son is currently obsessed with the periodic table. Definitely going to save the link to your site.

  79. This shirt reminds me of a comment my roommate made to me a few months ago when she was attempting to change the strings on her guitar. After several minutes of frustration, she blurted out, "Ugh, I hate this! This is boy work!"

    I was more than a little dumbfounded by her remark, because the task of changing guitar strings -- while somewhat tedious -- is not exactly heavy lifting. I became even more incredulous when I remembered that she had been playing guitar for FIFTEEN YEARS and had never once changed the strings herself. It was always something she had "a boy" do for her. I can understand not wanting to finish a tedious task (I'm known to drag my feet over things I'm not particularly keen to do), but to label it "boy work" made it sound like she thought girls just plain aren't supposed to do things like change guitar strings. Clearly the expertise of a boy is required.

  80. Yeah. upon re-reading my comment, I had to comment again to say that when I said, "I find it as offensive as you," I meant that I also find it offensive, not that I find you offensive. I'm sure you got my meaning, but I still wanted to clarify. :)

  81. When I was a teenager I really wanted a t-shirt that said Porn * (star) In Training (I know, bad idea, it was a phase I went through) that they were selling at Hot Topic. My mother thought it was disgusting and wouldn't let me get it, not even with my own money.

    Now that I'm an adult, I'm glad she didn't let me get it. Unfortunately, at the age of 15, I thought it was really cool and I'm afraid that other 15 year olds would think this "Too pretty" shirt is cool too. :( Not that I'm advocating some sort of backlash against the people who make the shirt, I'm just...I dunno, sad.

  82. This shirt is so insulting! I used to have a tshirt that said "Lefties are in their right frame of mind. Too bad I can't find it any more!

  83. I hate shirts like this. I would love to burn them all. It's right up there with the "Math is hard" Barbie from a few years ago.

    There's enough sexism out there without stupid shirts like this being made. Hopefully these at least will go away soon.

  84. It's sad because when I was a pre-teen, David and Goliath almost exclusively made t-shirts with cartoon monkeys on them. This is very far removed from the company I remember them as.

  85. Women who wear shirts like this are likely to give birth to children who will wind up on "Toddlers and Tiaras."

    Being pretty is okay. Being pretty and smart is wonderful. Being pretty, smart and a geeky gal is AWESOME!

  86. abbyinwonderland14June 2, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    i saw a magnet with that phrase on it at forevr 21 the other first i though it was cute, but then when i thought about it more i completely agree with you!! that is just so sad and u see even more girls wearing derogatory tshirts these days.

  87. @Jen - The point about embracing math was aimed at/taken more from the comments than the actual post. Comments like "any girl that wears a T-shirt like that isn't worth [their son's] attention" (no matter what? what if she turns out to be the girl of his dreams?) or "the girl who's good at math is most likely going to be far more successful in reaching her own dreams than the pretty girl who doesn't do math" (says who? by who's definition of successful?) or "they are making the choice to dumb themselves down" (what if she's gonna write the next great american novel? she's not dumb because she doesn't like/can't do math) or "maybe if the back said something like '...and too smart not to'" (implying, what, that if a woman is smart and pretty, she should/would do math?), etc.
    And - I promise this isn't written in a scathing or condescending way - with the exception of one shirt I've seen posted (the "find x" shirt), one would actually NEED to have a decent understanding of math in order to "get" what the shirts are trying to say. So they don't quite fit into the "I'm not good at math and here is my witty shirt to prove it" category.

    About the shopping bit, that's fair, but I have to again wonder: just because that stereotype doesn't bother YOU doesn't mean it doesn't bother anyone else. This is - admittedly - completely anecdotal, but someone assuming that I'm bad at math and someone assuming that I'm emotional and love to shop rate at the same level of annoyance for me. Obviously we can conclude that assumptions based on math skill bother you more than they do me, and assumptions about shopping bother me more than they do you, but that doesn't mean that one is more important than another. Shouldn't be we protesting ALL stereotypes, rather than just cherry-picking the ones that bother the most women the most often? I find that unfair. Especially because you'd be surprised how cruel people can be with the "lesser" stereotypes because they assume that it's totally okay to do, just like you did. I despise shopping, I think babies are ugly, children are annoying, and I don't like chocolate and you would honestly be surprised at how hurtful people's comments can be. Sure, it's not a do-or-die situation, but it can be plenty frustrating.
    It reminds me a lot of the arguments on the stereotypes about gender roles. I personally would be living the dream if I could be a housewife. I love to cook and read and watch movies and if I could do that for the rest of my life while my husband works to support us financially, I would be extremely happy. I cannot even TELL YOU how many women find this "disgusting." I don't want to be a housewife because of a stereotype, I want to because I hate working. But in the end it is still MY CHOICE. I am not personally setting ANYONE back. If a woman wants to work 40+ hours a week at a job she chooses, great, more power to her, I hope she's happy, but her having a job and my not having one doesn't make her more of a feminist and me less of one.
    Buuuut I'm going off on a tangent at this point, so I'm gonna stop now haha.

    In other news, my captcha says "comoment."
    It makes me think it's trying to be the comment of the moment. You are not a comment, CAPTCHA, and you never will be.
    Poor dear...

  88. Yeah, because we all know that pretty people are as dumb as a bag of rocks.
    Being gorgeous and a math genius, I know that they do not have an inverse relationship.

  89. Okay, I only made it through about half of the comments (so my apologies if this has already been written), but... Why can we be considered either beautiful or smart, but not both? It's been my experience that most people will only allow you to fill in one bubble out of those two. Why is that?

  90. Perhaps the one time it might be amusing is if worn, tongue in cheek, by an exceedingly ugly woman

  91. I just glanced at the rest of the comments so maybe someone already said this...
    I'll wear one - when they make it available in an XXL. Rat bastards. It's wrong on SO many levels!

    (I try to use my Wordpress acct every time I want to leave a comment and I can rarely get it to work - sorry!)

    Signed, ZhivagosGirl (Lara)

  92. I'm a teacher, and that sort of tee shirt really bothers me. The "Sugar Daddy Wanted" tee bothers me even more. Girls have more important contributions to make to society than just their pretty face, nice body, and reproductive and pleasure-gratifying capability. And people wonder why more girls than boys end up with eating disorders and self-destructive behaviors like cutting.
    Sadly, these shirts feed into that.

  93. Urg - I am female, I'd like to consider myself pretty...and I can do math like nobody's business and kick butt too, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

    P.S. I LOVE the "find x" shirt :)

  94. I think if this were an ADULT shirt it wouldn't be offensive. I'm a geek in a great many ways. I don't see myself as dumb, and I love to learn most things. That said, I hate math. I can do anything as complex as basic algebra. Beyond that, I'm lost. My hubby has an associates degree in electronics and is working on a bachelors in engineering. He likes math. I tell him all the time that I'm too pretty to do math. And that I keep him around for those things. haha.

    So for me, it would be... at least amusing on an adult. On kids these 'ironic' slogans just aren't funny. Our youngest had a onsie that said "I tcp/ip but mostly I pee" Those sorts of cutsey/ witty/geeky(whatever form of geek you are) are far more apropriate than things advocating (even jokingly) that looks > intellegence. Truthfully, I prefer the wittier kinds for adults, but at least on an adult its less trashy.

  95. I have three very bright, very beautiful teenage daughters. I just asked my 15-year-old (who intends to study some form of engineering because she LOVES her current engineering design class) what she thought about the shirt. She laughed. I asked her why. She said, "Because it's just so stupid. No one would wear it for real, right?" I smiled. I have hope because my girls think like this.

  96. I was the best math student in my class all through grade school, and absolutely love the subject. I also like to think I'm pretty darn pretty. Math might not be every girl's thing, but I certainly did my part to prove that some of us can totally kick butt at it!

    I've got a number of math shirts I've eyed over the years: I always thought the Math is Delicious shirt was adorable, gotta love Fibonacci Bunnies, and this Problem Sleuth Fractal is just plain pretty!

  97. Anonymous brings up a good point. I'm really frustrated with all the negativity directed at women who 'just' want to be housewives. (I don't mean here, I mean in the world in general)

    My hubby and I have pretty liberal views. Our relationship and many of our ways of thinking border on the strange for lots of people. But I REALLY LOVE being a housewife. Eventually I want to go back to college. But that's because I like to learn, NOT because I feel I need a career to be fulfilled. MY home, my hubby and my babies (my youngest starts kindergarten this year *cry*) keep me plenty fulfilled. And I find it really offensive when 'feminists' give me crap about how I'm demeaning myself and all of womankind by my choices. I always thought the point was that women deserved the same opportunities. Not that we had to choose the opportunity, but that if we wanted it, we shoudl be able to. Just because 80s sitcoms told us that you can have a career and take care of your family "You're a woman, youc an do it all" doesn't mean that you HAVE to, does it??

  98. @ Jessica - BRAVO, and well-said. Some of my smartest and happiest friends are stay-at-home moms.

  99. Whenever I see crap like this, I head over to Science Daily and read one of the mathematics, engineering or physics articles. That way, every time I'm insulted, I resist the stereotype that much more!

  100. As the mother of a 2-year-old girl, I hate this so much I'm typing my comment one-handed while holding my one-day-old son with the other to burp.

    It makes me SO very grateful for people, especially women, just like you, Jen. Women I can show my daughter and encourage her to emulate and show my son and teach him to value and seek out. Women who do math, damnit.

    And what with the one-day-old, I don't have time to go find it but I've seen both a maternity shirt and a onesie with the phrase, "Proof that Geeks have sex" printed on them. LOVE.

  101. I'm famous!! Yay!!

    I'm a computer science major and a total math geek. I also like to think that I'm pretty, but I guess the shirt presents a dichotomy I simply can't refute!

    I really do hope that most of the people buying that shirt are doing so for ironic purposes.

  102. I'm not denying this shirt and the fact that it is only available for 'women's juniors' sizes is bad in 12 different ways.

    I am troubled by the comments, side by side, saying "I wore it ironically" and "no one wearing this is worth our time."

    I try to teach my teenage students to interact with as many different kinds of people as possible. Even people they think are weird or dumb or scary because it is through this kind of human interaction that we start to end stereotypes and prejudices.

    I applaud the need to voice concern to the companies making these shirts this way (in the ever wise idea of NOT BUYING THIS STUFF). But I don't think we can or should voice concerns about ALL people wearing these shirts.

    All that about "not judging a book by its cover" and whatnot. (I think Slutwalk is advocating the same message.)

  103. @Jen I do think we can combat things like this by wearing more geek shirts. ; )

    @Anyonymous 5:34 & 7:19
    You're right, but throwing the stereotype to either extreme, reverse-racism, wing-politcs, et all never really gets us anywhere.

    I think the underlying fault is actually with the idea--even joking--that gender, race, socio-economic status, whatever-your-label precludes or protects you from the effort of learning. I honestly think that discouraging a child in any subject can limit their scope down the road.

  104. I hate that first shirt! I am a math teacher and it actually makes me physically ill. I own the last shirt you posted (a piece of pi) and today (as I read your post) I was wearing this:

  105. Thankfully, we find ourselves living in a time when if you want to study math, you can go for it. Since that's the case, this shirt is only funny if the person wearing it is really good at it.

    Unfortunately, after all these years, there is STILL too much attention paid to women who assume the attitude that they don't have to know how to do anything but look good and shop and party, so I suppose unless that changes there will always be a market for this kind of thing, no irony implied at all. (Quick, somebody calculate the odds of THAT happening!) ;)

  106. @Kiwi - I totally agree. My core problem with arguments like this is that many people don't realize that in their attempts to rid the world of these stereotypes, they get a little too wild and end up putting down the women that embrace who they are - even if they happen to fit into that stereotype.
    Don't get me wrong here, I would love to live in a world with no glass ceiling where everyone is equal and happy and loving and phrases like the one on that shirt don't even make sense, but that is just not the reality of the world that we live in (at the moment, anyway. I'm still holding out hope that it'll happen).
    I guess I'd like to think that embracing one's shortcomings is not the same as putting a stop on learning and personal growth. I prefer to imagine that if someone gave something a try and found that it wasn't for them then they would disregard it, move on to the next venture, and embrace the fact that being NOT good at or into something is just as important to their make-up as a person as the things that they ARE good at. I mean, when is the last time someone said "man, I really just don't understand/like engineering, so I think I'll take a class on it!" Maybe they've made the choice to spend their time pursuing something that they enjoy or that comes more naturally to them.

    I understand the negative effect of these sorts of stereotypes and I disagree with the message and its origin, but bringing down the women that choose to love their faults and embrace the stereotypes that they fit into is just as hurtful as the stereotype themselves. I would rather see "hm, it sure is a shame that this is a negative stereotype. We should change that" comments than "that is disgusting and no woman should be allowed to wear it and the ones that do should be ashamed" comments.

  107. What we need is a t-shirt that says: I'm too pretty to play dumb.

    I saw way too many girls in high school pretend to be dumb long enough that by graduation they weren't pretending anymore. :(

  108. The troll in me wants to get the math shirt JUST so I can wear it to one of your book events. Thankfully, I'm both too cheap to shell out for it, AND definitely don't fit Junior sizes.

    Still, the fact that it's even being made is tragic. I was just starting to think nerdy girls were really coming into style, too! (still are in my book)

  109. Anon,

    As the guy who gets to moderate this board, I would ask that you please put your name on your comments. It makes you a lot easier to address specifically.

    And I guess I'm of the opinion that it's best not to put yourself in a box, especially if you're a young person who might start to believe the t-shirt. On the flip side, what a shame it would be to give a young boy a shirt that says, "Too handsome to cook." Or maybe, "Too studly to express love."

    I almost never comment on Epbot but I couldn't help but add my too sense. Peace out, yo.


  110. I think it would be funny if a high priced accountant was wearing it.

  111. @John - no problem on the name thing. I regretted not including my name in that 3rd comment to make it easier for me!
    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: I am Anonymous at 5:34, 7:19, and 12:30, and you may call me Liz!

    As for the rest of your comment, I hope I'm just reading it wrong (I'm taking two 400-level summer English courses at the moment so my brain is a little fried lol and the wording leaves your comment open to different interpretations) but it seems to have proven my point there. The shirt is made for women so if a woman wears it she is putting herself in a box, but if similar shirts were made/aimed at men, it wouldn't be looked down upon in the same way, it would be "a shame" and looked upon in the same way I said in my last comment that people should look upon this one: what a shame that that it even exists (as opposed to what a shame that that poor, sad woman is putting herself into such a sad little box like that).

  112. I bought this comic on a t-shirt from the creator (his website, is pretty awesome!), but they don't have it for sale anymore.

    Now that's a math joke! :D

  113. I had this shirt in high school, and would wear it to Calculus class. It was my way of making fun of the low expectations people had for me (a pretty girl)...made evident by their wide eyed "really?" response to my chosen major of Chemistry. If I still had the shirt, I'd keep wearing it...or maybe change to a "I'm too pretty to do Chemistry"!
    Can't take it too seriously as an issue since you have to CHOOSE to wear it. Good discussion!

  114. Hi Liz,

    Actually, I don't think that's what I was saying but it's very late here and I might not be entirely unsure of what I may or may not have not said.

    That said, there is a double standard when it comes to statements like these since it seems perfectly acceptable for a male to embrace male stereotypes. I think that is a shame. Embracing a negative stereotype that attacks intelligence or ability or even emotion is, I think, pretty much always bad whether you're a man or a woman. Especially if it's not funny or ironic. So.

    Would I give a t-shirt that says "I'm too pretty to do math" to my daughter? Nope. Would I give a t-shirt that says "Real men don't cry" to my son? Nope.

    But, then, I'm also an American so if you want to wear a shirt that reinforces negative stereotypes, I say go for it. I won't think any less of you. Or I might. Depending on what your shirt says.


  115. @John - haha that's fair. And I was willing to bet that it wasn't what you meant, I just wanted to clarify since the wording left it open to some interpretation. Thanks for the response!

  116. Sigh. This is why we Geek Gals need to keep being awesome and inspiring the next generation of geeklings.

    ThinkGeek is my favorite place for smart T's. During my last pregnancy, I wore this. (This is my first link attempt!)

  117. It's gross gross gross, but also, so is using "female" as a noun. Whenever people say that, I ask, "A female what?" I think it dehumanizes women, and I hear a lot more people use female as a noun than male.

  118. I'm a guy and I find it annoying.

    More annoying is the t-shirts etc for very young children that are explicit (for example the looking for a suger daddy one).

    But if I am honest, I have a hatered for David and Goliath in general. Given that they steal a lot of their 'art'. Check out here and here to see some example of how they blaintantly TRACE other artists and even clipart

  119. This comment has been removed by the author.

  120. It's not really a geeky shirt But it made me think of you. A Steampunk Seahorse.

    It's only available till midnight

  121. It's funny if you squeeze a 300 lb. dude into it. Just sayin'...

  122. I find it annoying, but it's not the worst shirt out there. In uni I liked my "blondes have more fun, but brunettes can read" shirt.

    Otoh, my little sister gave me what she thought was a cute shirt one Christmas. It had a little "shy" penguin on it with the word frigid across it. I was horrified, she was embarassed - she thought it said "trigid" and was a new brand.

    love your shirts tho! :D

  123. Back in the day (like, 15 years ago), I found a t-shirt that said "Pardon me, do you have any cheap, yellow mustard?"

    I LOVED it. I can't find it now.

    Sad face.

  124. I teach 3rd grade, and I have to say this shirt is foolishness. I have a wonderful picture of two of my girls from my first year teaching who made math shirts to wear each time I gave a math test. They wrote "Math Rocks!" and "Don't forget to check your work"all over them. Each year I have many gals (and guys) who love math--fear not, the next gen is not as shallow as the shirt would suggest.

  125. I said it on the Facebook link, and I'll say it again - this is just sad. No one should want this; being pretty and smart are not and will not ever be mutually exclusive.

    On a better note, my two favorite geek girl shirts (both of which I own) are Science + Music = Sexy (with a test tube, music note, and heart, but is no longer sold), and this Portal Science to do shirt from ThinkGeek. I'm studying for a PhD in Neuroscience, so it's fitting. And I love the babydoll shirt cut!

  126. Ugh. That first shirt is just awful. ThinkGeek is my favorite source for geeky tees, including one (in women's cut) that says "I am the IT guy." There's also a women's shirt with the old "10 types of people" joke (those who understand binary and those who don't). My favorite geeky shirt that I've seen recently in real life was at the Museum of Science and Industry: "May the F=MA Be With You." Physics joke AND Star Wars joke in one!

  127. OK, what if it were preceded by "Don't ask for my number"?

  128. Stupidest T-shirt I've seen in a long time. That shirt would be fit for burning or rags and not much else.

    As a attractive female electrical engineer and sister to a very "hot" (according to her students) math teacher I dispute this statement. It reminds me of the talking barbie who said "Math is hard."

  129. I don't like the shirt. I wouldn't purchase it for my niece (who kicks ass at math). I understand that it is funny for a female electrical engineer to wear, but only if people know what she does for a living. It is one more message for young women that pretty is more important than smart. There are far too many of those messages out there.

  130. Well, I have to admit that I am a girl and I suck at math... but I still consider myself a geek. And I find this t-shirt highly offensive. I think a much better alternative is this Mental Floss tee, which I own. At least it highlights my strengths while still being funny... and gender neutral.
    If you like math/science tees, Mental Floss has several. I got my actuary husband this one.

  131. My husband has this shirt from JCPenny. I love it! Talk Nerdy to Me

    I wanted this one, but they didn't have my size in the store Oh Grow Up

    They also had a green version that read "Get a Life" but I can't find that one online.

    My favorite t-shirt that I own has a big smiley face with glasses on it and says "Don't worry be nerdy". It was a Christmas present from my husband and he got it at target. Did I mention that I LOVE my husband. :o)

  132. @ Amy B. - I love, love, love your shirt idea.

  133. My favourite is one I made myself with t-shirt transfer paper on occasion of going (being taken) to a big computer nerd convention with some friends which reads "011000100110110001101111011011100110010001100101

    What's your excuse?"

    (It's binary and translates to 'blonde')

    It may not be the best, smartest, or wittiest, but I like it either way. I am not much of a computer nerd, expected and experienced people to not expect me to have any intelligence to speak of as I'm a blonde girl and wanted to make a pre-emptive strike. If they couldn't figure out the binary, what was their excuse?

    From the ones you can buy online, these are my favourites: Science is a verb now and Cogito Ergo Nom by the creator of the Questionable Content comic. (He's got a lot of good shirts, and I've been eying his apron already mentioned by someone else for months now)

    And these from xkcd: Stand Back, I'm going to try Science and My normal approach is useless here

  134. *headdesk* It's just sad that we as a society still tell our young women that they don't need to do math or science. Hopefully those of us who are in those fields can be a beacon of hope.

  135. I have to agree with earlier commenters: if the t-shirt came in all sizes and genders, i would be far less bothered. Heck, i might even pay to see a guy wearing it in size XXXL. And if i were in a math or physics course and the teacher showed up wearing it, i wouldn't be bothered in that context. Why? Because in both cases, it's clearly meant as an ironic statement. If some 15 year old sweet young girl wanders through the supermarket wearing it, however, it's problematic for me, because i don't know enough about her to know if she's the school math whiz being ironic or the kid who barely handles arithmetic and really thinks that math is ugly geek stuff.

    Context is everything. My standard rule of thumb for buttons (and, when i wore them, t shirts): if it's something i'd feel at all comfortable saying to absolutely anyone with no context to back it up, i shouldn't be wearing it.

    And as for girls and math...i've known lots of people who say they're bad at math or even that they can't do math. I, however, was almost a math education major in college (art and poetry called louder). I firmly believe that math, like reading, is something anyone can learn with the proper instruction that reaches them where they are. When people tell me they're bad at math, i always say, "No, you're not. You were just taught badly."

    Heh--my captcha is "coven". Clearly captcha knows me entirely too well.

  136. I'm honestly not horribly bugged by this shirt. My friend and I used to joke that we were "too cute to code, to pretty to program" because we were just so over not fitting into the world of computer science (she and I have 3 CS degrees between us). It was never an issue of not being capable, just a joke about how much we didn't fit in.

  137. God made women AWESOME. If women would see themselves through His eyes they would never worry about what anyone or any T-shirt might say. Check out Proverbs 31 sometime--- we're wives, mothers, business women, investors, strong, dignified, wise, kind, confident, prosperous--- all at the same time! And without giving one thing up to be another---

  138. Idea for a new T-Shirt: Take the "I'm Too Pretty" one as is and have the word "to" crossed out in red "ink". Under it, have written in "and I". Final saying: "I'm too pretty and I do math."

    Anyone, feel free to run with this idea.

  139. I have to be pedantic for a moment; the "Math is hard" Barbie is a bit of a misnomer. From Wikipedia: "In July 1992, Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, which spoke a number of phrases including "Will we ever have enough clothes?", "I love shopping!", and "Wanna have a pizza party?" Each doll was programmed to say four out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same. One of these 270 phrases was "Math class is tough!" (often misquoted as "Math is hard"). Although only about 1.5% of all the dolls sold said the phrase..." Not the best role model (I mean, it's Barbie!) but not quite the issue that word of mouth has made it.

  140. I hate this shirt - not only is it degrading...i's going to be stretched across the boobs. Gag.

  141. I think the shirt is great if worn in an ironic way. Like if a woman who was a number cruncher (like an actuary for example) or had a Doctorate in Mathmatics wore it. Then it would be pretty hilarious. But for a typical teenage girl -- not so much.

  142. I hate this shirt - not only is it degrading...i's going to be stretched across the boobs. Gag.

  143. Yeah, I think that shirt is ridiculous. Women who buy that shirt must think they're too pretty to have a job as well. Unless their office is on Hollywood Blvd. :-)

    Here's my favorite math shirt which I wear every year on Pi Day.

  144. I like this t-shirt:

    smarter than you

    I've never added a link before, so if it doesn't work, obviously I'm not worthy of the shirt...

  145. It is disturbing and unfortunately that seems to be the trend among the younger generations. My cousin sees nothing wrong with portraying herself as a b**ch and a redneck. Then she become angry when she doesn't receive the respect she thinks she deserves. Any attempt to change her perspective just falls on deaf ears. It's a sad situation because I know she has so much more to offer.

    Ironically enough, in a poll of attire that guys find attractive, shirts with stupid slogans like this ranked pretty low.

  146. Thanks for the post.

    I have given them negative feedback and also shared the information with my friends and family.

    I have young sisters that are in the "age range" for these shirts and they have plenty of friends.

    Not sure if it'll make a difference, but I can't NOT say anything.

  147. Come back with a shirt that says, "I'm too smart to care what brand your shoes are."

    WV "cavisti": That T-shirt is a cavisti.

  148. Kinda off topic here, but I just have to say that I really admire and appreciate all of you discussing this shirt right now. It is really great to see strangers on the Internet holding a respectful, coherent debate about something. Too many times I've seen discussion on a controversial topic degrade into shouting matches and name calling. Reading all these comments has been a bit of fresh air. This blog is awesome, you are all awesome and I love you!

    Liz (not the same as the previously anonymous Liz)

  149. haha! Someone should wear this who isn't pretty at all. That would be so ironic.

  150. I love this "Math is delicious!" shirt so much I own it. It comes from the online comic strip Questionable Content, which I highly recommend if you're looking for a place to waste time whilst being highly entertained.

  151. I think this shirt is funny maybe it's because I hate math but I don't find it degrading at all. I think it's funny.

  152. So it's not girl-geek funny, but this was my most recent geek tshirt purchase. It's extra funny cuz I live in Asheville NC and the regular "coexist" bumper sticker is EVERYwhere.
    Geek Coexist

  153. I find it Very Interesting that the very thoughtful, interesting (provocative?) Liz -- formerly Anonymous -- listed some examples of what pretty girls might want instead of math:

    "Maybe they are really good at English. Maybe they want to be a model. Maybe they can knit a blanket in record time."

    English major, model, knitter: srsly?

    What about a car mechanic? Engineer? Biochemist, orchestra conductor, MD, belly dancer, lawyer, rock star, movie director ... T-shirt designer ...

    I love seeing all of the thoughful comments (only read half so far!). I found it very interesting that even here we don't see our own biases.

    Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy
    (researcher, belly dancer, knitter)

  154. I think it sure says a lot about the wearer, but I don't think it does anything to harm the women's movement in particular. There are stupid women and there are smart women; there are stupid men and there are smart men.

    The wearer of this shirt is announcing to the world that they are a stupid woman; it would be logically fallacious to jump straight to the generalization that because one woman is stupid, all women are stupid. As a smart woman, I tend not to interact with stupid people, and as a result the fallacious generalizations made by stupid people have no impact whatsoever on me or my life.

    I personally don't find the shirt funny or cute, and would probably think twice before talking to someone who was wearing one. That said, I really don't think this is a feminist issue so much as a "people are stupid" issue.

  155. I feel like the shirt isn't necessarily a step backwards as much as it is an admission that this stereotype still exists, unfortunately. There are still women who believe that looks are more important than/exempt them from any kind of intellectual exercise. I totally agree that women (especially those of us in the geek community!) ought to do whatever we can to discourage this stereotype. Women can be beautiful AND smart. There's no reason for those two qualities to be mutually exclusive. If I ever have a daughter, that is what I plan to teach her. (That's also what I plan to teach my son about prospective dates!)

    A long time ago, an elementary school teacher of mine had a shirt that said, "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." The wordplay still makes me smile :D

  156. did we start taking tee shirts seriously? I mean, when my hubby wears his "I just killed a clown" shirt (which, as a clown-phobic, I LOVE), do I really need to feel nervous when we walk past policeman who might take it literally??

    My only complaint is the size limitation - and if it's on clearance, that may not even be relevant! Probably all of the curvy geeky girls like me already bought the normal person-sized ones.

    The day I start taking myself seriously is the day I turn in my geek badge and start watching Bill O'Reilly. Jussayin'.

  157. Yeah, "Too Pretty to Do Math" is a bit over... but context can be very important, yes? If I were redesigning the T, I'd probably print, "Can do math - would rather read!" or something similar. My favorite T, purchased at WorldCon Boston, depicts a classic dragon savoring her hoard - of books. It says, simply, "Bookwyrm". And I've had several people tell me that "Bookworm" is spelled wrong. No one seems to get the idea that books are better than gold and jewels to a true bookwyrm!

    from the bookgeek who realized her dream to own a store full of treasures bound into books - Merry at Annie's Book Stop/Sharon, MA

  158. I wouldn't let either of my daughters wear the Math or the Sugar Daddy shirt. But going on the website, there's a lot of other shirts from that brand I wouldn't let them wear and if I had a son, a lot of shirts on there I wouldn't let him wear either.

    And yes, I said I wouldn't LET them wear. Because I'm their parent and I buy their clothes. There were quite a few fashion "choices" my mother wouldn't LET me wear either, and now all I can say is Thank God.

  159. Math has never, ever been my strongest subject. In fact, I loathe it, and fear trying to take algebra again in the fall semester (4th time's the charm, right?). However, I would never, ever wear this shirt. Just because I am not good at math does not mean that I am unable to respect people who are good at it. I feel sorry for any woman who has so little self respect, that she would feel that this shirt is somehow funny.

    I want this shirt instead, cuz I would take math classes that had ninjas in it:,guys/style,shirt

  160. You know, I have a BEAUTIFUL 12 year old daughter that is too beautiful NOT to do math BECAUSE (as my husband and I tell her all the time) any boy that can't handle a smart girl has some serious issues. We have fought the "dumb girl" thing for a while now because she is so smart and is afraid that boys won't like her as much because of it.

  161. The shirt is stupid and not funny UNLESS, it's being worm by an ugly ogre lady ha ha. now THAT'S funny. I'd give her props for her sense of humor.

  162. Fortunately for me I was in college before anyone told me I wasn't supposed to be good at Math, after winning the Math award all four years in high school.

    I merely laughed at him, then he asked me to help him with his Calculus.

    I'm an accountant now - math is my bread and butter.

    The shirt doesn't upset me much though - stupid people are going to be stupid, and all the teen girls in my life are too smart and self-aware to be stupid.

  163. That shirt stinks. Nothing funny about it.

  164. @Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy - I see your point there, but I had ulterior motives in choosing the English/knitting/model things. I was trying to show that a woman might want to embrace the stereotype that she fits into, and those would be stereotypically "feminine" things.

  165. I don't like it. It doesn't completely offend me...that is, I guess it's better to say that I'm not surprised and wouldn't be if I saw someone wearing it. But I don't like it, and it is slightly offensive, along the lines of the (thankfully mostly forgotten) dumb bunny t-shirts ("boys are dumb, throw rocks at them").

    I much prefer this one from Mental Floss. It's smart *and* expresses my opinion at the same time!

  166. I can see why there's a backlash against it, but I'm pretty sure (unintentional..) that this is mostly tongue-in-cheek. Rather than reinforcing the (negative) stereotype, I'd say this is recaliming it for women.
    I can see quite a few of my arts-student friends wearing it for example, despite most young, female arts students being extremely progressive.

  167. Ill be honest - I'd totally wear it. To work even. Of course, I work as a financial analyst for a major company, so itd be funny to me at least.

  168. Personally as a geek-girl who has always stuggled with mathmatics and is always being told that I am too pretty to call myself a geek - yes I have not that I believe it, I might wear this more to make fun of my pathetic ability to always get 8x8 wrong and to fool people into thinking I am an idiot until I smack the upside the head with a brilliant argument in whatever debate we're having. If you actually believe the statement then you are already prejudiced and probably think that way anyways.

  169. I think it has possibilities. My aunt likes to refer to herself as a dumb blonde, I think it would make a great gag gift for her.

    Sorry, no cute shirts to add.

  170. I am weeping also! I'm studying psychology, and there IS a difference in ability in maths/sciences between men and women, but NOT due to gender differences! Stereotype threat - you believe you will be worse at something, so you don't try or don't practice it, means that you are worse because you aren't trying or practicing. So "joke" t-shirts like the too pretty one are reinforcing this. I hope noone buys it!

  171. It's better than the "trainee poledancer" tshirt for pre-teens I have seen, but this is still on the continuum of sexism that got Katie bullied.

    My fav is the self-rescuing princess.

  172. I'm a female high school math teacher. The hardest/most important part of my job is convincing students (unsurprisingly enough, mostly the girls) that they are indeed good at math and they can learn and they are smart. Most of my students have had a teacher or parent (or both) tell them that they are not good at math enough times that they started to believe it. I get very upset when I hear parents say to their student "well, I was never good at math, so you won't be either", or other comments along those lines. It takes months of constant reinforcement to remove the trauma that these "innocent" comments inflict on students.

    But, at the end of the day, it's worth it when you see a student that used to hide in the back of the classroom and avoid eye contact in the hopes of avoiding being called upon or learning switch to sitting in the front of the classroom and bouncing in their seat with excitement to answer math problems.

    I wish that our society would stop reinforcing the idea that math is hard and it's OK to believe that you are bad at math.

  173. The shirt sort of feels like it can be degrading to women, but not really. I think it would be self-degrading if a young woman chose to wear it. She might as well wear a shirt that says "I'm an idiot."

  174. I think it's a terrible message if one chooses to take it seriously (either the wearer OR the viewer). Do we think a lot of people would do that? When I first looked at it I assumed it was a joke.

    But then, I run on the worldview that the universe would be a better place if we all took fewer things seriously. :)

  175. I hate this t-shirt. I hate even more that I see shirts like this in the girls' section. So far the worst I've seen is a hat that said "My boyfriend is away for the weekend" marketed to 7-14 year olds. I'm trying to raise a smart, aware girl, and the clothing gurus aren't helping by implying that she should be dumb and slutty to succeed.

    Luckily my daughter has discovered Snorgtees, and is now the proud owner of "Hedgehogs. Why can't they just share the hedge?" She also has a funky one that says "Come to the dark side. We have cupcakes."

  176. MAybe you have allready seen but I just like it Hello Schröddy. Also a great answer to that "Hello Kitty" stuff that also reduces women and girls to persons who love pink and kittys and spends to much money for pink things with kittys on it.

  177. It gets under my skin every time I see shirts and whatever like that. My other favourite was a shirt I saw in some tiny shop when I was up in Alaska that said "Home is where my husband is" and a male one that said "Home is where my wife is".

    I know its supposed to be cutesy or whatever but I found it rather ugh. I love my husband dearly, but he doesnt define my existence.

    As for my favourite shirt right now, it isn't a feministy or smart one, its a shirt that says "Dont B H8N On The Homos" and another that says "Str8 against H8" because I'm a big gay rights person. =D

  178. OK, so, I own this shirt, but I actually have a backstory for it.

    I bought it in college, because I was a computer science major, and we shared a department with the math majors. See? I was in computer science, because I was too pretty to do math.

    I kept it because my math major husband went on to get his Ph.D., and we hung out with his classmates almost exclusively. It was my humorous way to keep people from asking me if I was in the math program/why I wasn't in the math program.

    I've stopped wearing it since then, though, since it's just insulting out of context.

    BTW, I've owned it for 5 or 6 years.

  179. Tweens and teens are pressed enough to fit anti-intellectual stereotypes. Consider the mental mush that companies, singers, actors, reality TV stars, etc. present to kids as What All The Cool Kids Do. D&G deserves to end up with an unused warehouse of these.

    Am I the only one here who *isn't* flipping out over "Math Is Hard"? Because you know- for most of us, male and female, it's not some degrading statement about gender inequity. It's just the truth.
    I know plenty of men who loathe math as well. I don't know of a single little girl who was given one of the 'Teen Talk' Barbies that spoke that phrase who decided,
    "Oh no, math is something I'm not supposed to be good at! I'd better give up on it right now!"
    I would have found it nice that someone intelligent had trouble with the same thing I did, LOL.

    Then again, Barbie-bashing is one of those things that is all about personal motive and perception. The wide variety of settings and accessories, meant to let a child exercise her own vision of a dolly world, is instead spun as 'oh look at all the cr*p she has! She's _materialistic_!!And she's blonde, so she must be stupid!' etc. A lot of projection on something that's supposed to be a kid's companion in creating his/her own world, ne?
    Come on, she had an *astronaut* outfit in 1965, and numerous professional and technical outfits since then. In 2011 there's a Software Engineer. Instead, it's easier to perpetuate the 'beautiful = stupid' stereotype- and to ignore that she's been many hair and skin colors over the years! (Now if you want to join me in complaining about the cheap and unattractive B.doll clothes currently made available, I'm with you. Ugh.)

    Anyway, we have a a popular culture that tells our kids that sleazy, gangsta and dumb is the way to be. That's *really* something to be concerned about when you see how many kids are buying into it, and how many parents either approve or just don't care. Let's make sure that the kids we know and love are given something a lot smarter and more positive than this.

    /long long rant over
    //hands soapbox to next person

  180. I would find the "too pretty to do math" Tshirt very funny if it were on someone who was obviously Not the "Barbie doll" type-- or someone that was Proudly and Obviously a Math Geek. Context adds humor.

    I'm particularly fond of the Tshirt we bought my rocket-scientist niece for Christmas: it says "With Enough Thrust, Pigs Fly Just Fine". :)

  181. After we made a spelling error on our Top 5 Reasons to Date an Engineer shirt, our SWE section made shirts that said
    "I'm an enginere"
    "I'm an enginire"
    "I'm good at math"

    With the misspelled word "engineer" crossed out each time.

    Another of my SWEsters has a shirt that has a parabola and says "Math is more fun with curves" or something to that affect.

    I'm still rooting for a t-shirt that says, "I have an unhealthy attachment to my graphing calculator"

    All that being said, yes, I take offense at anything, whether it be a T-shirt, or a Barbie doll that tells girls that math is hard.

  182. I may not be the best at math, but that has nothing to do wih intellectual ability... Or looks, for that matter. No (future) child of mine will grow up to be so self depreciating. It's crude, offensive and makes me want to weep for future society.

  183. I'd be sad to see a young girl wear this shirt, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to purchase one for my sister - a math professor at an Ivy League school. :)

  184. Here is the antithesis to the "I'm too pretty..." t-shirt, also from Mental Floss.

    My literature side likes this shirt

    My science side likes this shirt

    Yet another shirt that I've seen that I loved was across the chest were five different types of dice, and underneath it said "Don't make me roll for initiative"

  185. I gotta say, as a Geeky male I find women of science far more attractive than a mindless pretty princess.

    Nothing "stirs my geek" (ew) more than being out-geeked or out-scienced by the opposite sex.

    Frankly, any drone vapid enough to wear a shirt like that wouldn't be worth the trouble to look at.

    Give me the girl wearing an equation shirt saying, "Even if my shirt is derivative, it's still functional."*

    *I saw this shirt at a Con and have never been able to find it for sale anywyere. It had a picture of a SIN/COS on it. I've always wished I'd have stopped the girl and asked her where she got it.

  186. I didn't scour through the 180+ comments to see if anyone recomended Toothpaste for dinner's t-shir site. Great online comic by the way

    I got my mathmetician brother a shirt that said "if your not part of the solution your part of the precipitate"


  187. I love all tees from mental floss. Because I'm 12 and I love math. And funny tees.

  188. I actually have that t shirt.

    I love it. I am a terrible math student but excellent in English. I actually have a numbers dyslexia and I frequently write my 3s backwards like an E.

    I also think I'm quite pretty, so I just like to poke some fun at my learning disability while being a cocky little shit.

  189. This shirt tries to cash in the 'nerd cred' school of humor, but fails miserably. There are plenty of other math-based humor t-shirts out there (I particularly like the 'get real/be rational' one), so there's no need to go w/ this one. It's not nerdy, it's low-brow.

    And low-brow humor is actually one of the most difficult types of comedy to pull off. It's too easy for it to devolve into stereotypes & bodily function gags. Now if that caption was under a picture of, say, Chuck Norris, then it might be funny. Might be. As it is, it's just another bad attempt at humor, which are a dime/dozen on the net.

  190. Jen, I saw a girl wearing a Angry Birds-themed shirt with the caption "I'm a bird brain" and I about collapsed right there in the grocery store. I hurt for her SO MUCH. I felt like she was wearing a "Kick Me" sign, only she paid for it.

  191. The birth mother of my 11-year-old stepdaughter bought her this t-shirt. I am APPAULED. What a GREAT message to send your daughter out into the world with. This is just a gateway t-shirt that leads to the "I plan on marrying rich" t-shirt she's apt to buy for her when she's 16.
    If it ever makes its way to our house, it will be discarded immediately.
    If I saw any kid on the street wearing a shirt with such an "it's ok to be dumb" message on it I would judge the parent who let her wear it.

  192. What a serious world we live in! Have none of you heard of banter? I would think that 99.9% of people wearing this would be doing it for tongue-in-cheek reasons. David & Goliath also do "boys are smelly, boys are stupid" and "boys are stupid, throw rocks at them" tshirts - do you seriously believe that this encourages girls to attack boys?


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