Sherry A. Phillips

Suspense Author

What the heck is wrong with Urban Outfitters?

I am very familiar with the clothing store, Urban Outfitters, as I have a teenage daughter who loves their clothes. Though it’s not my style, it is hers and she has her own unique style, complete with pink hair. She’s a good child and doesn’t cause me any worries (except for paranoid mother worries – you know what I’m talking about).

This morning, I found out Urban Outfitters is promoting a provocative new line of t-shirts which is apparently touting teenage drinking. Slogans for the new t’s include “I Vote For Vodka” and “USA Drinking Team.” The t’s are modeled by a young woman who looks like a teenager and is wearing one that says, “I Drink You’re Cute.”

While I can laugh off a good joke, teenage drinking isn’t something to laugh at. No one wants a Snooki or Situation as their child. At least no one I know.

From Yahoo:

A recent survey reported that one out of five teens is drinking, using drugs, or smoking during school hours. For parents already rattled about kids and booze, it’s a jolt to discover these items when fall clothes shopping with one’s teen or ‘tween. The majority of customers at Urban Outfitters (whose representatives did not respond to our calls and emails) are between 18 and 24 and the second largest demographic is under 18. “Kids shouldn’t be wearing these t-shirts,” Jan Withers, National President of MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving), tells Shine. She explains that while MADD does not directly oppose drinking for people over the age of 21 or merchandising to adults: “Marketing [alcohol-related products] to teens is not in any way acceptable.” Withers’ own daughter, Alisa Joy, was killed in a car crash by an underage drinker when she was 15 years old.

Janet Evans, spokesperson for dontserveteens.gov, the Federal Trade Commission’s program to prevent underage drinking, says she is disturbed by the shirts, but tells Shine, “You can’t pull them from outlets.” They are protected under laws that allow the promotion of branded merchandise. Evans’ particular concern when it comes to underage alcohol use is graduation rates. “We need more research on drop out rates associated with teens and drinking,” she tells Shine. “The numbers are appalling.”

Withers thinks that t-shirts such as the ones sold by Urban Outfitters are a form of silent peer pressure but also sees a silver lining. “It’s a perfect opportunity to talk to kids about the dangers of alcohol use for teens,” she tells Shine. “Part of our mission at MADD is to prevent underage drinking and the research shows that the best way to combat this is to have an ongoing dialogue with our children.” She points out that while studies show that as many as one out of five kids is binge drinking, that means, “four out of five aren’t. We can remind our kids that not everybody is drinking. Parents have much more influence over kids and alcohol use than we think.”

My husband and I are not big drinkers. In fact, I don’t think I could tell you the last time my husband even had a beer. It’s been years. I probably have a cocktail perhaps once a year on a special occasion, and I never have that cocktail in front of my kids.

We’re iced tea drinkers in this family.

That said, teenage drinking and driving is no joke. Waaaaaayyyy back when I was a cheerleader in high school, a gorgeous cheerleader from another school (her name was Meg), left a party on a Friday night. She’d been drinking, lost control of her car and hit a tree. She died instantly.

I get the “cool factor” of Urban Outfitters. However, there is nothing cool about a dead teenager killed by a drunk driver. Especially if the teen drinking was the one behind the wheel.

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