(Girls going back to school wearing ‘dance’ t-shirts. (Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post / Getty Images))

Urban Baby Blog: Selling stereotypes to toddlers

A couple of days ago, someone shopping at The Children’s Place noticed a shirt in the girls section. It was a list of “skills” with a check box next to each one. The skills were shopping, music, dancing, and math. All of them were checked off except math with the words ‘nobody’s perfect’ printed underneath. The shirt is pink and glittery and very girly.

The mommy twittersphere exploded.

Is there a boy version of this shirt? Of course not. Why would your puny female brain ask such a thing? Boys are good at math. In case you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm there, I have a few problems with this shirt.

First: Shopping. The Children’s Place caters to babies and small children. Babies and small children don’t shop. They don’t have any money. Adi might come along with me shopping, but it’s me doing the shopping. The oldest child that can still fit into clothes from CP might be old enough to walk to the bodega and buy milk alone. That’s not that impressive. Look, mom! I can cross the street and buy stuff with money that you gave me! Wow!

Second: Music. I’m pretty sure the music isn’t referring to studying the piano or appreciating opera. Listening to music isn’t a skill. Untangling my iPod headphones might be a skill, but inserting them into my ears isn’t. Music is important to listen to of course, but anyone with hearing ability can listen to music. So either the bar for women is so low that using ones ears is considered worthy of note or this shirt is a dig at the deaf community. Deaf Culture has music (I went to a deaf concert once — it was pretty awesome) so I’m going go with the former.

Third: Dancing. Finally! Something listed that one can actually be good at! Assuming that the shirt means something other than twerking.

Fourth: Math. Full disclosure: I’m great at shopping, I studied music (opera in fact), and my grandparents were competitive ballroom dancers. I also suck at math. Really REALLY suck at math. At restaurants I use a calculator to figure out the tip. Sometimes I count with my fingers (did I say sometimes? I meant always). I can speed read the Sunday Times in an hour and remember everything but as soon as my brain sees a number it has a panic attack and shuts down and I start drooling.

This shirt totally applies to me. If I were in elementary school today I’d probably be tested for dyscalculia. Since I’m not in elementary school today, and I have a calculator on me at all times, I’ll skip the adult dyscalculia test and go shopping instead.

Being bad at math isn’t cute. Being bad at math isn’t feminine either. I know plenty of women who are great at math and plenty of men who are worse than me. I’d love to give you a ratio but thinking about that makes me nervous. Do me a favor — ask around and figure out how many of your lady friends are good at math compared to the men and get back to me. Then tell me if the men get on a train at Albuquerque and the train is heading to New York at 150 miles per hour, how long before it reaches Grand Central where the women are standing over me cowering in a corner because the numbers are scaring me.

I fully intend for my daughter to be good at math. Despite my numerical failings, her DNA has some math skill hidden in there. My husband, a computer programmer, is fantastic at it. My grandmother (A woman! Gasp!) played the stock market, made her own investments, and took herself from poverty to wealth all on her own. You know, because of math.

The Children’s Place tweeted an apology.

But the question is, are they sorry for promoting sexist ideas that people like my grandma (and her math) fought to do away with?  They don’t seem to be sorry for hiring buyers and using designers who think dumb women are cool.

I for one won’t be shopping there anymore. And that isn’t some empty boycott threat either. I buy a lot of clothes there for Adi and have spent a lot of money. I know this because my husband does this weird addition magic trick and tells me I spend a lot of money there. I’m taking my shopping skills elsewhere.

RELATED: Toddler style without the sticker price

Gosh. Men are so smart. I should stop my silly girl brain from thinking too hard before it gets hurt and start making a meatloaf or ironing something.

Actually, I’m not that great of a cook either. Nobody’s perfect.

Urban Baby Blog: Selling stereotypes to toddlers rachel levin figueroa revised nbc parenting family NBC Latino News

Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker.  She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito.  You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.

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