“I Vote for Vodka,” “USA Drinking Team,” “Misery Loves Alcohol,” and “I Drink You’re Cute” are some of the phrases displayed on a recent line of female shirts by the trendy retailer Urban Outfitter.
Not to Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.). Withers, whose daughter was killed by an underage drunk driver, stated, “Kids shouldn’t be wearing these t-shirts. Marketing [alcohol-related products] to teens is not in any way acceptable.” Other opponents of the new line of clothing point to the fact that Urban Outfitters’ main demographic is between 18 and 24 and the second largest demographic is people under 18. Another bit of ammunition opponents are pointing to is the apparent youth of the models used in Urban Outfitters’ catalog.
Few would disagree that these shirts might not be the most appropriate for people under the legal drinking age. Fewer would disagree that people under the age of 21 should not be drinking. There is a reason we have a legal drinking age. The theory is that once you hit a certain age (21) you are generally considered responsible enough to drink. So it follows that the more responsible you are the less likely you are to drink and drive.
Is the heat that Urban Outfitters is enduring justified?
What are they supposed to do? Stop selling the clothing simply because people under the age of 21 happen to shop at a store? Designate an area of the store for “adults only” reminiscent of the curtained off areas of video rentals shops? Urban Outfitters is not a retailer whose clientele are exclusively under the age of 21. Regardless of your personal opinion on the tastefulness of the shirts and the slogans they don, Urban Outfitters has a right to sell the shirts. Similarly customers, especially those over the age of 21, have the right to buy them.
There is absolutely no way my mother would have allowed me to wear a male version of these shirts even after I turned 18. She probably still wouldn’t condone it even though I’m well beyond the legal drinking age. Not only would she not allow me to wear something like this, she, as many parents should, educated little old adolescent me on the dangers of drinking, and especially drinking and driving.
Good parenting is the first line of defense against underage drinking, underage drinking and driving, and inappropriate wardrobes.