Clothing companies, beware: If you’re thinking of putting any text on a kid’s T-shirt, you’re likely going to screw up. Or at the very least, face the ire of the internet.
That’s the situation Old Navy finds itself in after Twitter users discovered a children’s T-shirt displaying the slogan “Young Aspiring Artist” with the word “Artist” is crossed out — and replaced with the words “Astronaut” or “President."
We live in this generation where people underestimate what an Artist can do. Shame on you, Old Navy. pic.twitter.com/mbVW6Fzy07
"No need to bash artists and young creatives” was the general sentiment among the Twitter users who took issue with the shirts, that appear to have that signature navy Old Navy label. (The shirts don’t appear for sale on Old Navy’s site but Mic has reached out to confirm whether they’re sold by the company and will update.)
In the meantime, Twitter users weren’t too happy with the shirts, which ironically were likely meant to convey an empowering message to girls, and help them envision themselves in fields typically thought of as only for men.
Of course, that message got lost by dissing another professional field that people feel strongly about (and that Old Navy, you know, works with).
Seen these new @OldNavy tops? I wonder if they realize that without artists, their company doesn’t, y'know…exist. pic.twitter.com/JhZ1yuw5ro
Dear @OldNavy, we need aspiring Presidents, Astronauts AND Artists. pic.twitter.com/ls1Gb183Sb
Seems @OldNavy thinks discouraging kids from a career in the arts is funny. #FAIL http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/DEVELOPING-STORY-Old-Navy-Selling-Childrens-Shirts-Discouraging-Working-In-The-Arts-20151229# … pic.twitter.com/uOIz8jl19i
Don’t let @OldNavy cross out dreams or aspirations! Artists can be astronauts too! @NASA_Astronauts @NASA pic.twitter.com/1s176cGLKs
This obviously isn’t the first time a company’s faced backlash over the messaging on its T-shirts for kids — and the backlash is often caused by shirts for girls that appear to perpetuate sexist ideas. In 2013, the Children’s Place came under scrutiny for selling shirts with slogans like “Born to Wear Diamonds,” and another that checked off “My Best Subjects” as “shopping, music, dancing,” but not math since “nobody’s perfect."
Earlier this year, Target came under similar scrutiny for a woman’s shirt with the word "Trophy,” on the chest, which critics said played directly into sexist stereotypes.
The “Young Aspiring Artist,” shirt from Old Navy was likely trying to avoid the sexist hot water that other companies have faced, but it forgot one thing: Don’t piss off the artist inside each of us.