The GEM Debate:
Is This A Fashion Statement Or A Faux Pas?
The other day, my darling daughter came home, eyes bloodshot from crying too many tears. I was alarmed.
“Casey, what’s wrong?”
“Mom, some really bad stuff went down at school today.” I took a breath and prepared for the worst.
Casey went on to tell me that she’s been hanging with a girl who just moved to the school. She happens to be in a different grade than Casey, but to my daughter, that makes no difference. She’s fun and they like each other.
Everything was fine until lunchtime the other day. My daughter went to get her food, leaving the new girl standing alone near a group of upperclassmen. They saw her and one girl shouted, “Get away from us Sophomore!” The young woman was hurt and embarrassed and Casey was too.
I helped my not-so-little girl through that by explaining to her that throughout the course of human history, people have tried to exert their superiority over other groups. Homophobic, straights, racists and in high school.. juniors over sophomores. So, imagine my surprise when I saw that you can now have that emblazoned across a shirt and wear it proudly in the lunchroom.
The website, BrandyMelville.com, is full of these pithy, little sentiments and I’m sure, thought of as cool by some. “You Can’t Sit Here!” not horrible to me as an adult but pretty damaging to a teenager. But as someone who’s experienced bullying and seen it just this week, I would have this message to the site and shirt creators:
I know the group you’re going after. I know you think the shirts look kinda cool on these young girls with bad a** attitudes showing through. But if they encourage behavior like what Casey saw the other day, it feels like you’re making a buck at the expense of other people’s peace of mind. Now I know you’ll say I’m just some old lady who doesn’t know what life is like in high school or it’s just a joke.
Two of those three things would be true.
But what’s a joke to one person can be devastating to others. With all the ways schools and parents are looking to solve the bullying crisis (and if you’ve been bullied you know what I mean by crisis), this seems short-sighted and downright mean.
What do you think?
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