Wardrobe Malfunctions

Forever 21 Allergic to Algebra & More Controversial T-Shirts Photos

A week after the JCPenney controversy, Forever 21 has another t-shirt scandal. See the most controversial.

A week after the JCPenney controversy, Forever 21 has another t-shirt scandal. See the most controversial.

Forever 21's Flunking Messages

Despite JCPenney coming under fire for an anti-education girls' shirt in August, Forever 21 is still selling a t-shirt that reads, "Allergic to Algebra." It appears to be just one of many shirts with messages like "School Is Fun... When It's Over" and "F = Fabulous." JCPenney pulled their controversial shirt from shelves and immediately apologized for its message after an online petition drew attention. But Forever 21 has not yet commented on their tees and as of Monday afternoon, they were still available for purchase, except for the "Algebra" shirt.

JCPenney’s Homework Shirt Gets an F

JCPenney sparked media outrage with a girls’ graphic tee for sale on its website that read: "I'm too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me." The accompanying product description didn’t help matters, either: "Who has time for homework when there's a new Justin Bieber album out? She'll love this tee that's just as cute and sassy as she is." The shirt quickly became a viral sensation, with people tweeting in disgust about its sexist message and signing an online petition for the shirt to be removed from shelves. The company responded in a statement Wednesday that the shirt “does not send an appropriate message” and said it would stop selling it immediately.

American Apparel Says 'Teenagers Do It Better'

In early August, SheFinds.com noticed these conversation tees, courtesy of controversial clothing store American Apparel, which read “Teenagers Do It Better.” Considering that the company’s CEO, Dov Charney, has had numerous sexual-harassment allegations brought up against him, it seemed a disturbing choice of what’s been referred to as borderline-pedophiliac branding. A week later, The Huffington Post reported that the shirt was a collaborative effort with Electric Youth!, a magazine that features raunchy photos of boys between the ages of 16 and 21. When The Village Voice asked Charney about the design, he said, “I'm not involved with it. Electric Youth! would have directed that … We're making a million items a month, so I don't know about this particular one.” Despite the debate, the shirt is still for sale for $24.

Nike’s Pot-Promotional Line

In June, Nike was blasted for introducing a line of T-shirts that replaced its signature “Just Do It” slogan with the phrases “Dope,” “Get High,” and “Ride Pipe.” The company said the terms are part of skaters’ and snowboarders’ lexicon, but critics said the shirts endorsed drug use. Boston’s Mayor Tom Menino saw the tees in the window at Niketown on highly trafficked Newbury Street and asked the general manager to remove them. “Why would a national organization do that? Except to try to stoop to the lowest common denominator to get people to buy their T-shirts,” the mayor told WBZ Radio via CBS. “They should be out educating our young people about the damage drugs do to you. But in their windows on Newbury Street, they’re promoting the issue of drugs.” Then an antidrug group called Oregon Partnership sent a letter to 1,500 recipients—including some at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy—urging them to condemn Nike. “It's gone past edgy,” the group’s spokesman told CBS. “Sure, it is the language of skateboarders and surfers, but it's also the language of addicts.”

'Eat Less' and Stir Up More

A T-shirt that encourages people to “Eat More Greens” is one thing, but a women’s tee that read “Eat Less” sent a seriously controversial message. As this list indicates, Urban Outfitters has a reputation for making contentious graphic tees, but its infamous “Eat Less” gray V-neck was particularly criticized for promoting unhealthy eating habits. The shirt’s description on Urban Outfitters’ website was much more vague: “Eat less or more or however much you’d like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long topped with a v-neck.” The blogosphere was nonetheless up in arms about the garment, which one blogger called “tasteless.” Urban Outfitters pulled it from the website but apparently left it on store shelves.

When Clothing Gets Too Mature …

Urban Outfitters touts itself as a progressive, hip retail chain, but back in 2004 it sold a retro-styled T-shirt that said, “Voting Is for Old People,” and some customers took the shirt quite literally. “I do not think it is appropriate to sell anti-voting propaganda to future voters,” a 21-year-old Florida resident told MTV News after seeing it at an Orlando store. The young Yale graduate who designed the shirt explained its irony: “This shirt’s real intention is to sum up the current state of political affairs, pointing a finger at all of us who’ve been so apathetic in the past.” Urban Outfitters subsequently released a statement echoing the designer’s sentiment, adding: “We fully understand how this shirt might be misinterpreted and we appreciate the arguments that the shirt has raised.” Nevertheless, it stayed on the shelves.

Young Jeezy Redefines the Snowman Symbol

Early in 2005, drug dealer turned rapper Young Jeezy and Def Jam started giving out “Stop Snitchin’” shirts, featuring a snowman with an evil expression, to promote Jeezy’s LP Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. As the rapper became increasingly popular, bootlegged versions of the shirts started selling everywhere. "Snowman is a cool dude," Jeezy explained of the image to MTV News. "He's a gangsta, too. There's a Snowman in every 'hood … You gotta be that dude to look up to with the car and the girl. Whatever you do, be the best at it, because that's what the Snowman is going to do." But the symbol also gained some notoriety for being an alleged homage to those who sell “snow,” a.k.a. cocaine. Soon enough, some schools banned students from wearing the shirts, according to the Associated Press. The phrase (and Jeezy’s accompanying song) “Can’t ban the snowman!” caught on, and knockoffs are hot commodities nationwide.

Underage Motorcycle Shot Leads to Lawsuit

Once again, Urban Outfitters is under fire. The company is currently part of a $28 million lawsuit for a T-shirt featuring a titillating photo of 16-year-old model Hailey Clauson “spread eagle,” as the suit reads, on a motorbike. Clauson’s parents are seeking damages from Urban Outfitters; from photographer Jason Lee Perry, who took the provocative picture of the model when she was just 15; and from two more boutiques. Though her parents approved the photos at the time of the shoot, Clauson claims no release was signed, allowing Perry to sell the photos to Blood Is the New Black, a clothing company that, in turn, made T-shirts and sold them to Urban Outfitters and other retailers. “She's a professional model,” Alice Davis, a videographer who assisted Perry in the shoot, told Good Morning America. “She posed herself.” Perry added on the morning news show: “I never thought I'd be with you now, here, on ABC, about a girl wearing shorts and a button-up shirt.”

Illegal Immigrants Stand Against Spencer’s

In 2010, a shirt sold at the chain store Spencer’s that read, "Illegal immigrants are like sperm. Millions come in, but only one little bastard works,” caused quite a stir in all corners of the country. “This is, to me, very racist, and to say that millions come here and only one, I won't say the word, only one comes to work, it's very hateful,” a 22-year-old Mexican-American from South Florida told the local Fox affiliate, 7News. "There's millions of immigrants searching for a better life. It's just a slap in the face to us, like we just come here to ruin the country, and it's not that." The shirt had also been sold in California and Maine, but residents’ complaints there led to its removal. A Spencer's spokesperson said: "The shirt was not directed at any group. We meant the shirt to be funny and topical, but because so many find this shirt offensive, we've decided to pull it from the shelves."

Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner Debates

Who knew Yale University and Urban Outfitters had such a heated history? Before the retailer recruited a Yale grad to design the aforementioned “Voting Is for Old People” shirt, the Ivy League university’s administrators reprimanded the company for selling a men’s T-shirt that depicted a kneeling nude “cow girl” as “tender juicy beef,” and labeled her body parts accordingly: “chuck” for her shoulder, “round” for her hip, “soup bone” for her thigh. The uproar began when an administration assistant in the women’s and gender studies program came across the shirt while browsing the store’s racks. She rallied some Yale bigwigs to get behind her, and Urban Outfitters ultimately agreed to take the "Kansas Cattle Queen" shirt off shelves across the country.

Kate Moss’s Ready-to-Wear Message

Then-35-year-old supermodel Kate Moss shocked the world in 2009 when she told Women’s Wear Daily that one of her mottos is “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” Despite condemnation, the pro-anorexia message made its way onto a T-shirt two years later, thanks to the label Teen Modelling, which sold the “size zero” shirts on Zazzle.com for the bargain price of $23.95. It was bad enough that the shirts were being sold in adult sizes, but the slogan also made its way onto shirts for children and toddlers. A spokesman for an organization called Beating Eating Disorders told The Daily Mail, “Using children to model this kind of pro-anorexia product is clearly and plainly wrong.” A Zazzle spokesperson responded to The Daily Mail: "Zazzle does not have a specific comment on the 'size-zero' slogan merchandise … Because Zazzle is a custom products platform, it enables all users to create their own products that feature their own content. In this way, Zazzle is an outlet for users to express their personal opinions." The shirts are still available on the site in all sizes.

Targeting Fascism for Boys’ Fashion

After Gen. Francisco Franco's reign of terror in Spain, the country changed its flag in 1978, removing an eagle the dictator had added and banning the image from there on out. But when someone put the Spanish flag on a T-shirt for Target during the World Cup in 2010, they used the fascist one, Jezebel noticed. The $6.99 infant/toddler shirt was pulled from shelves the following day, and a Target spokesperson told The Star Tribune: "We certainly apologize for any discomfort or offense this shirt may have caused." The item was exclusive to the store, even though it was not Target's brand, and the company offered a full refund for anyone who had already bought the shirt unknowingly.

Diana Cannot Rest in T-Shirt Peace

Time does not heal all wounds. It had been 11 years since the death of the beloved Princess Diana in 2008 when an Australian T-shirt company called Goat Boy released a royal tee, featuring a portrait of the late princess with the text “She's DEAD … So Get Over It.” And to make matters worse, the site superimposed the shirt on Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip for online advertising purposes. Among the offended, monarchist Prof. David Flint told The Daily Mail, “It's a pity we breach society's standards just to get a sale. It's not right to be cruel to people who obviously can't defend themselves.” A disclaimer on the Goat Boy site, which still sells the shirts for $49.95, reads: “If anyone gets offended by our designs, we'd like to humbly point out that you're wasting your righteous indignation on a bloody T-shirt, when you should save it for something that actually matters.”