Today on CNN Newsroom

The latest news and information from around the world. Also connect with CNN through social media. We want to hear from you.
September 1st, 2011
04:34 PM ET

Former "Blossom" star speaks out about controversial t-shirts

A t-shirt for young girls offered on the J.C. Penney website reads, "I'm too pretty to do homework, so my brother has to do it for me." The shirt was being offered to girls ages 7 through 16. However, this shirt is off the shelves now because J.C. Penney got hit with so much outrage that they removed it from their website. You may remember Mayim Bialik from the hit series "Blossom" and she also stars in "The Big Bang Theory". Well she joined CNN's Brooke Baldwin on the phone from Los Angeles because Bialik has something to say about those J.C. Penney shirts.


Filed under: Brooke Baldwin
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. sonia waldorf

    UMD new football uniform. Look at MD state flag to find design similarity.

    September 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  2. john

    MAYIM BALIK??? Oh yeah, theres a name that will make America sit up and take notice.
    Obviously trying to reboot a forgotten career.

    September 25, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  3. LD

    John,

    She has a PhD in neuroscience. They probably talked to her b/c as a woman, and a genius, she is able to comment on the ridiculousness of the shirt. The fact she is a former child star of a popular show makes a catchy headline.

    September 26, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  4. Drew

    I hardly think her career is in need of rebooting. She has a PDH in Neuroscience,specializing in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome as well as being the Attachment Parenting expert for the Today Show blog and acting as the spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting holistic and green parenting and living. BTW, in her spare time she has recurring role on The Big Bang Theory.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  5. Father of Four Daughters

    @john: Her name should make you take notice. She left Hollywood to get a PhD in Neuroscience. She should speak out–she is a role model for education over fame.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  6. mercman

    Can't anyone take a joke anymore? This is as stupid as the million moms getting mad at Ben & Jerrys for Shweddy Balls!

    September 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  7. CosmicC

    Big difference – Shweddy Balls is humor of questionable taste, true, but if it has negative repercussions it's that no one will want to even try it and Ben and Jerry's will lose some money. The T-shirt would most likely be worn by girls who, at some level, believe the message. If more people cared about education, then more people would realize that the ice cream does not threaten our society, but the t-shirt does.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  8. Chris

    I happen to agree with Mayim. We should not promote things that flaunt looks especially with young girls at an age where they are struggling with their self esteem and identities. We have a friend that has a very pretty, smart and talented daughter of a normal weight for her height and age that wants to diet because she thinks she is too fat. This comes from the images shown in most teen magazines, movies and on many teen television shows. Young people have lost their adolescents due to the overly promoted, often time inappropriately dressed young actors and singers.

    September 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  9. deshawn

    this is stupid there is WAY too much going on to worry about a T-SHIRT wake up America SAD that this is making head lines

    September 26, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  10. jj

    Go Mayim! Wow, what an intelligent woman, a true role model. Loved Blossom and love her on Big Bang.

    September 26, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  11. Kirby

    Mayim says, "I bought me a PhD with the money myself made while on TV !! Who needs Mayim's input regarding a t-shirt? for crying out loud, it's just a t-shirt. Mayim stated in the interview, "let's take the focus off the silly t-shirts". How about we take the focus off her?

    September 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  12. batgirl

    And she is currently co-starring in Big Bang Theory as Sheldon's girlfriend, Amy Farrah Fowler. I think her show biz career is doing just fine, thank you very much.

    September 26, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
  13. Guest

    I think there is a huge difference between a goofy brand name for an Ice cream,and a T-shirt that demoralizes and perpetuates stereotypes.Maybe some hollywood types are fickle and shallow,but this woman doesnt seem to be one of them.

    Its a shame they all cant promote education over fame.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  14. Mark Taylor

    I've lived in at least 1/2 dozen states and a couple of European societies as well. There are some states – Arizona for instance – where people just don't seem to give a flip about what they will put on a car bumper sticker or t-shirt. This was relatively light but misguided stuff on this T-Shirt but I do take Mayik's point. America does need to step back and think about what it is ok to laugh and joke about and especially in company that includes kids. and don't get me wrong, I LOVE Arizona and would go back in a heartbeat if I could, however, there are some really, really lousy attitudes walking around out there and those folks advertise it on their cars and apparel and somehow think it is funny. I don't see this in Indiana where I currently live and NEVER saw this sort of thing in Europe. Lots of Americans need to get their heads out of their own backsides. Most people will say this is harmless but they are wrong wrong wrong.

    September 27, 2011 at 5:56 am |
  15. tcp

    Apparently, the majority rules in theis case, mercman. DEAL with it. If you want your daughter to portray herself as a vapid little troll, go for it!

    September 27, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  16. Bill

    We should outsource t-shirt censorship to China. They do it better, and cheaper.

    September 27, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  17. Franci Zalon

    Funny how all the comments from men say "It's JUST a t-shirt. Get over it!"................I hope they all have daughters some day!

    September 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  18. C

    Why did they put it on their shelves in the first place?

    September 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  19. BL

    She's a Ph.D on a hit show, so I think her comments hold a little more wait than your average "Snooki."

    September 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  20. Nicole Wakelin

    Huh, I respect everyone's opinions and their own individual takes on humor. I am sure there are more than a few people would take great offense at the fact that Mayim portrays a brilliant woman as having absolutely no social skills, and desperate to be friends with the pretty, blonde girl. If the shirt offends, how can that stereotype not? Both will offend someone, but that alone doesn't make it awful. Plenty of people see the humor in her TBBT character, including me. I can see the humor in the shirt. (BTW, I'm the "self-proclaimed GeekMom" mentioned in this interview that would be perfectly fine with letting my girls wear this shirt)

    September 27, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  21. Rich

    John,

    I really don't think that she needs to "try to reboot a forgotten career". She already hold down a full time job as a PhD NeuroScientist and moonlights as a recurring character in the TV comedy show "The Big Bang Theory".

    September 27, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  22. TC

    "threat to our society"....more like "truth hurts!!"

    September 28, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  23. PR

    @Nicole Wakelin, i think it's sad that you profess to be the "self-proclaimed GeekMom", and think it would be okay for your girls to wear the t-shirt. it's amazing how we try to make things labeled "humorous" as inocuous, as if there's no effect at all. the reason we have advertising, and it is a billion dollar industry, is that "labeling sells" – it sells, products, ideas, ideologies, etc., etc...

    If they thought that was appropriate for a young girl, why didn't they have a counterpart that said, "i'm a boy, and since the only 'head' that i ever use is in my pants, i'll let my sister do all of the thinking for me!". that would be just as ridiculous, and inappropriate.

    I hope you will re-think your views when it comes to your daughters. i'm more open-minded when it comes to targeting adults, but children are still very impressionable, and with all of the issues that young girls have to deal with already, there's no need to promote un-healthy attitudes towards female intelligence. we're trying to educate our nation, and the whole world to the benefits of promoting education with girls and women, so this is just counter-productive. yes, it's a minor issue compared to the issues the nation and the world are facing, but it doesn't mean that it should not be addressed.

    this is not something that was even remotely cute. the creator of this shirt needs some additional sensitivity training-and obviously a little more EDUCATION!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  24. irisheyes

    JC Penney and anybody else who is involved or was involved should take an additional course in sensitivity training. Bottom line is that this is all about greed. Let's see who can sell the shirt befoe anyone notices just how tacky it really is!
    I think wearing clothes that advertise anything or anybody is a joke. I try very hard not to wear anything that has someone elses name on it unless they want to pay me for it and we know that's not going to happen. I never have understood how wearing shirts with writing, pictures and logos started from, but I wish it would go away! It's just plane tacky and shows lack of intelligence on the people who make them and the people who design them and the people who wear them!

    September 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  25. Nicole Wakelin

    @PR Oh my, there are many, many shirts out there that have what I'm sure you would consider an equally unacceptable slogan for boys. There's one (and darned if I can find it and I had a link) that's for boys, has a kid just lounging on the couch gaming and a slogan along the lines of "I'm allergic to fresh air". So, boys that game sit around and get fat and lazy and can't be athletic? Of course not, it's a joke. So, yes there are counterparts to this shirt out there. Oh, another good one. I saw a boy at school recently with a shirt that said "Stud" and had a picture of a muffin. Does this mean he thinks he's just valued for how he looks and that his brain isn't imprortant? No. It was a joke.

    No one has to agree with humor, no matter the audience it's geared toward or the source of the content. I maintain, however, that if I try to teach my children to run from and fear something as silly as a shirt, if I teach them that a slogan is that important...then I am the one allowing the shirt that power. It's not being forced on me. My reaction is my own. My power is in teaching my children to look at advertising, shirt slogans and anythng else as exactly what it is...an opinion by one person or group who came up with the thing. Not a mantra to which all must subscribe.

    Is it that I'm oblivious to the power of advertising? Of course, not. But I am not doing my kids any favors by protecting them from anything controversial. I talk to them about things like this and they are able to make an intelligent decision about what the shirt means. If they thought it meant they were only good for their looks and not their brains, that would be a problem. The don't think that at all, so clearly this shirt has not corrupted their opinions of themselves. How is that possible? Because I, as the parent, talk to my kids and I instill beliefs that are consistent with my own. They are beautiful and they're intelligent. They can be both. Any girl can be both. They can also appreciate a sense of humor without becoming morally outraged.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  26. TennesseeMom

    For all the people who say these shirts are just a "joke", you have lost your minds. When you dismiss things that demean our children, that is not a joke. When we close our eyes to things that are wrong, more wrong things creep in to our homes and families. That is why so many children see nothing wrong with bad language and sex on tv and in movies. The parents overlook it and the kids become immune to it. My daughter knows she is pretty but she also knows she has to study hard because looks can be taken away quickly and that is no joke.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  27. DAN

    Jeez, it's just a t-shirt. Lighten up....

    September 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  28. Megapril

    Right... Like we should create a special department of the government that decides "what is funny?" Or a department to decide what were allowed to joke about?? That's where this womans commentary is going, and that could lead to a very depressed world in which I do not want to be a part of. Seriously, we are a free country and people are free to buy a silly t-shirt if they want. If it doesn't sell, then chances are you won't see many more shirts with the same theme, but there is no way I am going to let anyone else decide what choices I have based on the risk someone might get offended... Give me a break and lighten up Blossom!

    September 28, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  29. spunkylemon

    reminds me of the "i'm too pretty to do math" shirts sold at Delia's stores (and other stores), yet there is not enough outrage to remove those "gosh darn offensive" shirts. i think Delia's still sells them, so if you really miss those discontinued JCP "sexist" shirts to buy for your little girl because it looks "cute" (not to mention advertising to the world that she will be a future ditz), the Delia's shirt would be a great alternative! *(rolls eyes)*.i hate how t-shirts like these reinforce the stereotype that pretty girls don't care about education, you can't be smart or be good at math; that only unattractive girls can ace math. so, what (serious) subjects are "pretty" girls cut out for then? Drama class?

    September 29, 2011 at 5:25 am |
  30. Lynne

    Yes. Yes it was just a joke. And yes it is just a T Shirt. But why does that make it unimportant? Nazi's printed propaganda posters depicting Jews with huge ugly noses as "just a joke" in order to incite hate, therefore making their job easier.
    No – before I get the replies that hammer me for comparing the two – it is NOT the same thing. However, anything that is "just a joke" still has the ability to porfoundly impact other human beings and instill incorrect and heartbreaking ideas.
    I would hate to have a child that believed being pretty was more important than being intelligent. And, as a teacher, I find the shirt abhorrent.
    That being said... its still censorship to remove it, and I can't support it. It should be up to parents to correct this notion and not allow their kids to wear it.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  31. Pupwup

    What about the demeening political cartoons. Why not bring out that kind of demeening conduct instead of a silly T-Shirt.
    I think that political cartoons do more harm that those silly T-shirts.

    September 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  32. Bill

    Thats it America, no more jokes. The pc police are here.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  33. Doug

    Unless the parents are "Ken & Barbie, and cannot teach their daughter the nuances of humor rather than being so obsessed with being politically correct, wht's the problem. No four letter words just a caustic remark that if the parents are rasing their daughters right, they'd know what sarcasm is.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  34. Paul in TX

    NIcole Wakelin, the difference between the two examples you cite is the audience. While Balik's portrayal of the "science nerd" desperate for female friendship might sound offensive to some, The Big Bang Theory is a show about adults and aimed at adults. Children of the age that the t-shirt in question is targeting have no business watching a show like that. The intended audience of TBBT is not generally of the impressionable age. And if you're the type to believe the studies, there are plenty of them around that suggest this kind of thinking has hindered the progress of females in society, the "I'm a girl, so I can't be a scientist" crowd. Yes, most of us adults know that's a crock, but it took us awhile to figure that out. If you want to empower your daughters, this t-shirt is not likely to do it. And kudos to those who would buy the shirt for their daughters because "they know it's a joke." The problem is with the girls reading it who DON'T know it's a joke.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  35. Homie

    Hey, Christmas is coming! If J.C.Penny's doesn't have them, then where CAN I buy some of those T-Shirts?

    September 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
  36. Get a Life

    I'm leaving MY parenting choices up to actors in Los Angeles and humorless women everywhere!

    September 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  37. Nicole Wakelin

    Paul, I agree the audiences are very different, but that doesn't change the core of the argument. There are plenty of impressionable young adults, say high school and college aged, that watch TBBT. I'd go so far as to say that girls that age are more concerned with how they are perceived than younger girls. They'd be more likely to think that they want to be attactive above all else, so if smart makes them a nerd, who wants to be smart?

    I know my kids think the shirt is a joke. And since this whole thing I have asked lots of their friends, random sample yes, but my curiousity got the better of me, and not one of them thought the shirt meant you couldn't be pretty and be smart. They all thought it was silly, some of them liked it, some of them didn't, but not one thought it was telling them they couldn't be smart and pretty.

    Will you find some girls who don't know it's a joke? Absolutely. That child's parents have dropped the ball, but the simple removal of a shirt, or any message is not going to fix the problem and "save" them. The attitudes of their friends, and other adults that might be able to help compensate for what their parents have not managed to do. So, if you look at it that way, if there's a girl with self esteem that wears this, and a friend without that same esteem sees the shirt, then she may learn that it's a joke, that the message is silly, and possibly it will help her rethink how she sees herself. You just can't know.

    October 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm |

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,826 other followers