Girls and “Self-Esteem” Tees

April 24, 2008

In an advertising supplement to the Sunday newspaper for April 20, 2008, the JCPenney advertising flyer contained the following ad for “Girls’ Self Esteem® Screen Tees.” The logos in the ad read:

I Want Everything Fabulous!
I Love Being a Daddy’s Girl
Daddy’s Expensive Little Princess
Girls' Self Esteem Tees

That may be JCPenney’s idea of a girls’ self-esteem message, but it is not mine. JCPenney invites customers and others to comment on both their advertising and JCPenney’s Commitment to Social Responsibility: “Built on the legacy of founder James Cash Penney, who believed in doing what is ‘right and just,’ JCPenney is committed to being a good corporate citizen through the support of environmental, social and ethical initiatives.”

I passed along this information to AAUW members and other friends all around the country. I wrote to JCPenney’s immediately via their website. This was JCPenney’s reply to my e-mail on Monday, April 21:


We welcome comments and suggestions from our customers that call matters
to our attention and enable us to address each issue. Customer concerns
are always forwarded to the proper areas responsible for the issue. Your
comments are a great help toward increasing satisfaction of all JCPenney

At JCPenney customers really are our Number One Priority. Thank you for
giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. You are a valued
JCPenney customer and we appreciate your patronage.

Thank you for shopping with JCPenney.

A friend from Virginia also commented in much the same tenor and tone that I had used. She received this reply on Tuesday, April 22:

Thank you for contacting us online.

Thank you for contacting us regarding the apparel that we sell. We understand your concern and sincerely regret the distress this has caused you. The JCPenney Company was founded on the philosophy of bringing high quality, good value merchandise to every customer while at the same time providing the selection of fashionable apparel and products they desire. We would not be serving customers well if we disregarded their needs. However, you too are a valued customer and your opinions and needs are equally important to us.

While we cannot tell you at this time that we will never offer these again, we can tell you that our merchandising department will carefully review your comments. As one of the country’s major retailers, we will continue to be responsive to our customers’ needs as well as their concerns.

Thank you for writing and please continue to share your opinions with us. We value your input and continued patronage.

Thank you for shopping with JCPenney.

Clearly they are beginning to respond to the e-mails. Of course, neither of us has any intention of shopping there again as long as they merchandise anything like this to girls sizes 7–16 (read ages 8–15)! You can help in this effort by contacting JCPenney’s (select “Advertising” in the topic box) about this matter. Thanks.

NOTE: This post is by guest blogger Donna Seymour, Communications Chair, AAUW St. Lawrence County (NY) Branch.

By:   |   April 24, 2008


  1. It’s too focused on selling, there clearly isn’t a filtering process that includes morals and good parenting. The guys who put this together may not even have kids and find it hard to understand the significance. Its a shame large organisations find it hard to admit to making mistakes until they are pushed into a corner.

    Good article, well done.

  2. fairytalekids says:

    Oh to be a PRINCESS! – It’s a dream of most little girls. The challenge of inspiring these little would be princesses to give the same attention to inner qualities as they do hair, makeup and clothes is one that many parents know all too well. The challenge becomes to define the princess world in terms that a young girl can not only dream but LIVE!

    This was my inspiration for writing the book “On Being A REAL Princess, Secrets of the Happy Heart Princess”. This book is about how to be a princess from the Inside-Out! It’s about how it feels to be a princess.

    Featured in the book are sixteen princesses from around the globe who dance into your world with affirmations and messages on what it means to be a REAL Princess. They understand that a REAL Princess is strong, smart and kind. She knows how to think for herself and is proud of who she is and what she believes in. She dreams big and knows that she can make her dreams come true. She understands that everyone is different but each person is special.

    The book includes interactive journaling activities dealing with values, self esteem and decision making. It is a useful tool for parents, teachers, religious leaders and other caregivers to open a dialogue with little girls on all those important issues they face as they grow up in an increasingly complex society. It is never too early to begin the discussion on these simple values and feelings, all ages seem to feel it’s power in reminding them of what it is to be a REAL PRINCESS!

  3. Beth says:

    The tshirts are not meant to be about self esteem….they are just put out by a company CALLED “self esteem”. You misunderstood the ad. And what is wrong with a tee shirt saying “I love being a daddy’s girl”? Most girls are daddys girls. I dont think the shirts are bad anyway…let little girls have fun and want to be princess’…they are JUST kids. You are reading too much into a simple little girls tshirt. I think the shirts are cute and I buy self esteems clothing all the time for my little girl.

  4. Heather says:

    I agree with Beth…it’s only the brand of clothing…not actual self-esteem shirts to increase self-esteem in young girls…it was an innocent mistake.

  5. clarkp says:

    Things just don’t seem to change. TheUndomestic tweets today:

    Hollister makes “appropriate” t-shirts for 15 year-old girls (“Legal-ish” = FAIL)

  6. DL Fields says:

    And on the flip side…one day I saw a t-shirt in a Target ad that read “Someday I’ll Be Your Boss.” I couldn’t resist and bought it for my then five year old daughter.

  7. The_L says:

    “I Love Being A Daddy’s Girl” isn’t too bad, but the others… Why would I want to be described as “expensive?”

    I used to buy Self-Esteem tops, but clearly the brand refuses to live up to its name nowadays.

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