Who doesn’t love a graphic tee? It’s usually a harmless way to make a clever statement, and it’s proving to be a trend with some definite staying power in the casual fashion world.
But a new graphic pullover being sold at Target stores and online seems to have crossed the line between clever and concerning.
The Fifth Sun brand sweatshirt has the words “Wine O’Clock” printed across the chest. Innocuous enough, I suppose, for something in the women’s department.
But this particular shirt is being sold—and marketed—to juniors.
Admittedly, numbers aren’t my thing, but teenagers are definitely under the legal drinking age of 21, right? And sometimes not exactly in the most, shall we say, responsible mindset in those formative years.
The issue though, is this: here’s at least a little proof that teens are being swept up in the cultural obsession of pairing women with wine—and it’s got this woman scratching her head.
The description of the sweatshirt—which is listed on Target.com in the “Junior’s Tops” section and can be found in-store in the Junior’s department, too—reads: “This Burgundy sweatshirt might just be the same color as your favorite wine, pairing perfectly with the “Wine O’Clock” text across the chest. This relaxed sweatshirt with its cozy cotton-blend material provides comfortable wear, perfect for relaxing with a glass of wine at home or just letting everyone know what your next errand is as you’re out and about.”
Let me remind you, this is being pushed to your 14-year-old daughter. The 16-year-old babysitter. That 18-year-old college freshman.
None of whom should be spending any time enjoying “wine o’clock” at this stage of their lives.
As a mother of three daughters (and really, simply a mother and a former teenager), it’s the sort of marketing that has me wondering how we’ve gone off the rails when it comes to the messages we’re sending our girls—intentionally or unintentionally—about the glamour of drinking.
To be clear: I have no issue with the legal, responsible consumption of alcohol. You enjoy that glass of wine on a Friday after work, hard-working mama. Drink your cold beer by the side of the lake relaxing with friends this weekend, guys. You do you. Be responsible, and enjoy life.
But where I do take issue is when designers and retailers intentionally target underage, impressionable girls with the thinly veiled message that drinking makes you cool, or part of the in-crowd.
Obviously, teens probably aren’t making life decisions based on a graphic sweatshirt they see hanging on a Target rack. But those little messages, those attractive, young models looking calm, cool, and relaxed while promoting drinking? They’re subtle, but can have a profound impact. All we have to do is look at the staggering statistics about binge drinking on college campuses to know a healthy percentage of teenagers are choosing to drink, and they’re drinking irresponsibly.
Is it any surprise, really, if we’re making it look so attractive to them?
A recent study done by Curtin University’s National Drug Research Institute in Australia showed teens often perceive alcohol advertisements to be aimed at them because of the attractive young (of-age) adults pictured in them. In other words, they looked like peers, they looked like they were having fun—and that meant the teenagers surveyed were paying attention.
And that’s the issue, right? Our kids—our teens and tweens, especially—are watching us. They’re hearing to the messages we’re sending about alcohol, sex, drugs, and other potentially dangerous behaviors, and eventually, they’re making choices on how to act or not act on them.
As for this message on the shelves at Target? It seems like something our teenage girls could certainly do without.
Image via Leslie Means