T-Shirt Backlash

Are the slogans on these children’s tees offensive?

Two children’s T-shirts sold by the clothing store Old Navy recently caught the attention of many customers—but not for the garments’ style. Written across the front of the tees were the slogans: “Young Aspiring (Artist) Astronaut” and “Young Aspiring (Artist) President.” Many people felt that crossing out the word artist suggested that kids shouldn’t dream of becoming artists when they grow up. 

Parents, artists, and customers took to Twitter and Facebook to express their concern over the shirts’ message. Many people were upset because they thought the slogans would discourage children from pursuing careers in creative fields. They believed that the tees would lead those kids who hope to someday become artists to feel like their goals aren’t as worthwhile as other kids’ ambitions. 

Others questioned why those at Old Navy think being an astronaut or president is preferable to becoming an artist. Some social media users argued that many more kids will grow up to become artists than astronauts or presidents. They noted that artists work in many professions—as graphic designers, illustrators, art teachers, cartoonists, animators, and photographers—to name just a few. Some people pointed  out that even Old Navy itself relies on  artists to create its clothing designs.

But not everyone agrees that the tees’ messages are negative. Some believe the shirts—which were made for girls—actually encourage them to pursue prestigious careers usually dominated by men. Representatives at Old Navy also defended the shirt designs. A spokesperson for the company said that it sold a variety of graphic tees “meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations.” But because of the backlash, officials at Old Navy decided to remove the shirts from the company’s website and stores.

What do you think? Do Old Navy’s shirts inspire or discourage kids?

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