Originally created 07/06/06

Moms offer alternatives to racy T-shirts



ATLANTA - Four suburban Atlanta mothers are waging a counterattack against "attitude tees" - shirts with racy or provocative slogans that form the latest front in the wardrobe war between parents and their teenage daughters.

The four Lawrenceville women, with six daughters among them, grew tired of arguing with their girls over the bold T-shirts. They started Girls With Potential last summer to sell shirts with a positive message.

"Do you want your 11-year-old running around in a T-shirt that says, 'I'm a hottie'?" said Barbara Reilly, one of the co-founders. "They don't even know what a hottie is. They just think it's cool."

Attitude tees are marketed to preteen and teenage girls. Their sometimes bawdy slogans appeal to that age group's yen to rebel or to define their own identity, child psychologist Yo Jackson said.

"In and of themselves, developmentally, they make sense," said Ms. Jackson, a professor at the University of Kansas. But the tees can be a problem, she said, when girls wear suggestive shirts that might elicit negative reactions from people.

When the company launched its Web site in October, the shirts came in four designs. Under the slogan "Girls With Potential," all of them feature two cartoon girls, Brinkley and Kit, involved in activities like tennis, softball, music or doing well in school.

"Every time I wear my Girls With Potential wear - and I wear it quite a lot - I get people coming up to me to ask where I got the shirt," said Ms. Reilly, 43. She estimates the number of shirts sold at about 1,000.

Ms. Reilly said she was surprised but happy that the shirt most demanded by customers features a design showing one girl holding a paper with an A on it and the other holding a math textbook.

"I think a lot of mothers are buying them for their young girls to show them that it's OK to be smart," said Julie Frisbie, 42, another co-founder.