Forever 21 Is Now Selling a Shirt With an Ayn Rand Quote On It

But do the chain's customers even know what objectivism means?

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Forever21.com
Forever21.com

Forever 21 has a penchant for releasing controversial clothing, but a recent muscle tee emblazoned with the words of Ayn Rand seems puzzling for the fashion line targeted towards teens.

The “Unstoppable Muscle Tee,” priced at $11.80, bears a quote from the author and philospher, framed as a motivational statement:

“The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand

The quote refers to Rand’s capitalist-based theory of objectivism — that the moral purpose of life is rational self interest — a concept we highly doubt is taught in high school classrooms or discussed among teen lunchroom conversations. And it’s not much of a theory to stand by for an age group that still financially relies on their parents.

The idea of idolizing a contentious figure is reminiscent of the famed Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara t-shirts, made popular by the counterculture of the late 1960s. The t-shirt is now one of the most common shirts found on college campuses, often donned by young people who have no idea what the communist revolutionary symbolized–but check out that heroic-looking dude in the cool hat!

MORE: Forever 21 Back in Harsh Spotlight for ‘Oriental Girl’ Necklace

63 comments
NolanGray
NolanGray

Wait, most chains sold shirts with a genocidal authoritarian a few years back, but this is news?

nkelley
nkelley

To be fair, I can't speak for the high school students of today, but I know that when I was that age (and it wasn't that long ago), there were plenty of students who were more than familiar with Ayn Rand's work, and either vehemently with or against it. I was first introduced to Anthem by my 6th grade instructor. Granted I began to understand her philosophy better as I got older and reread her works, but I feel it is patronizing to simply assume that students are unfamiliar with theories of objectivism, or at least her more popular novels. As for Che Guevara- yes there are probably a number of young people who have no idea what he stood for and just think he looks cool- but for every one of those there are twice as many who know full well who they're wearing and what message they're sending.

Stop dumbing down the young people of today- they're far more educated and intelligent than they're given credit for.

JosephK
JosephK

A thumbs up for Forever 21 for printing an admirable quote from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead; a thumbs-down for the person who wrote the Time piece about it. Che Guevara was a mass-murderer who sacrificed himself to a political system that denounced self-interest as evil: Rand championed rational self-interest and a political system that upholds an individual's right to pursuit it, so long as he refrains from using physical force against others (of which Guevara is eminently guilty). If that idea makes Rand "contentious," then what does that make those who would argue against it?

JoeBlowski
JoeBlowski

by the way, i have never seen anyone wearing a che guevara t-shirt. also, ayn rand was a rabid hater of christianity and was the first 'saint' of the church of satan.  literally. 

alysemlasley
alysemlasley

I want to buy this shirt. Anyone know anywhere that hasn't pulled it yet??

erh725
erh725

I am a middle school student and a frequent customer at Forever 21. I have read most of Ayn Rand's works, (Atlas Shrugged, The Fountianhead, Anthem)  multiple times and, as a libertarian, agree with her objectivism and ideas on independent consciousness. While these ideas are not taught in the classrooms (at least not at my school) Like many of the most valuable things I have learned, I studied them on my own. I have often discussed them at the lunch table with my like minded peers. Please do not stereotype me based on my age. Being that I am thirteen, I am still largely dependent on my parents financially. But, thanks to the free market, I am confident that with hard work I will be able to get a stable job when I am old enough to do so. Is it just me, or does anyone else see the absurdity of  the author of this article comparing a shirt with a quote from one of the most brilliant thinkers and authors of the nineteenth century to a shirt with a portrait of a  Marxist,, brutal tyrant who, presided over the executions of  thousands of innocent Cubans, and, in total contrast to Rand, despised individual freedom. 

But I do wish that Forever 21 had not succumbed to pressure from the left, that t-shirt would have gone nicely with my "Who is John Galt?" shirt.



aynrandadvocate
aynrandadvocate

Actually, Ayn Rand's novels are somewhat popular in middle schools and high schools. Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged are reading in schools nation-wide, much, much more than they were 10 years ago. The Ayn Rand Institute alone has given away 2.5 million books to high school and middle school students across the country over 10 years: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=support_free_books


And if you didn't already know, Forever 21 pulled the item due to prejudiced complaints. Ayn Rand and her ideas may be gaining popularity in all areas of our culture, but they are still a persecuted minority.



BlueRavioli
BlueRavioli

Forever 21's John 3:16 inscription is said to be a sign of the owner's Christian faith.  So, it seems odd to promote an Atheist and her philosophies on merchandise, especially since those philosophies clearly exist due to her non-acceptance of a Creator.

awedelay
awedelay

Wow.  Has the author ever taken anthropology, literature, political theory, philosophy, or even ...English?  This is terribly written. Smut.

sandia
sandia

I might be totally wrong here, as I read the books on my own a few years ago, but it seems to me that a misworded quote on a bunch of poor quality, mass-produced teen clothing goes against most of what Rand stood for. Does anyone else see the irony here? Again, forgive me if I'm wrong. 

KristenLopez
KristenLopez

Comparing Rand to Che is just wrong. Last time I checked, she never murdered anyone.

Bliss_n_Vinegar
Bliss_n_Vinegar

I don't know why you doubt the revolutionary minds of young people, I read The Fountainhead for the fist time as a sophomore in high school and loved it so much that I reread it during my junior and senior years as well.  I think the financial situation of young people allows them to dream of making change and being revolutionaries when they are adults because they aren't yet jaded by the actual process of becoming an adult and seeing those dreams squashed by the hardships of life.

Have some faith in the future leaders of our world, especially if they find something in Ayn's quote that captures their attention.

BillWalsh
BillWalsh

This "article" by this "author" is so flawed I am literally dumbstruck.

Courtney, do yourself a favor, actually two favors: 1) Read some Rand and decide for yourself that you hate her -- you know instead of, like, you know, letting other people, like, you know, do your thinking for you. 2) Learn how to write.


nicolegilbert16
nicolegilbert16

"The quote refers to Rand’s capitalist-based theory of objectivism — that the moral purpose of life is rational self interest — a concept we highly doubt is taught in high school classrooms or discussed among teen lunchroom conversations."

 How about interviewing just ONE high-school English teacher for this article before making sweeping assumptions. We read Anthem AND Fountainhead in my 10th-grade English class. 

Secondly, it isn't just high-schoolers who shop at Forever 21-- it is a staple for most broke college kids as well.

JValliant
JValliant

Actually, I ~ was ~ taught Ayn Rand in a public high school.

eoniii
eoniii

You're comparing Ayn Rand to a Communist mass murderer? 

DavidBatson
DavidBatson

Ayn Rand is everywhere.

The thing that I like best about her philosophy is that she did not primarily create it for others to adopt it. She created it so she could write great novels. 

As an author (which she declared herself to be at nine years old) she knew that philosophy was the indispensable fountainhead of art. After experimenting with Nietszche and studying all the major philosophers, she realized there was no proper system of thought in existence for her to base her work upon, save for the seed of Aristotlean Logic. So, she created Objectivism. The rest is history.

So, for all those that blindly criticize her and her philosophy, realize she didn't make it for you. She made it for herself. She wouldn't care about you. She would only care about those who saw the value in her work after an honest evaluation of it. 

nkelley
nkelley

And FYI- call us nerds, but Ayn Rand was in fact a topic of our "lunch room conversations". And yes, that was in public school.

CatrinaGlasl
CatrinaGlasl

@erh725  You give me hope for American youth.  Keep telling it like it is.

jlau
jlau

@erh725 Though I disagree with your politics, I commend you for taking the initiative to read, debate and discuss, and form your own opinions. I was also an avid reader and news junkie starting from elementary school, and it's always great to see other young people do the same. I would note that the author was NOT comparing Ayn Rand to Che Guevara (much less endorsing either individual), but rather noting the similar phenomenon of retailers and other producers printing quotes, pictures, etc. of influential and controversial figures on shirts and other household items. 

TheDers
TheDers

@erh725 says the girl who is most likely attending a public school. lol. 

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@erh725  

dude, you're a kid. you may think you've got it all figured out but like you said, you're 13. you haven't lived, learned, or experienced enough to firmly take a stance on what you are politically. you may think you're a libertarian but again, you're 13. views change as you grow. and thanks to our wonderful economy, i hate to break it to you but hard work probably won't guarantee you a job in the future

AlysseReanne
AlysseReanne

@BlueRavioli They don't put stuff like that on shirts to express their beliefs. They do it for a profit, just like any other clothing store.

Jean-LucHUlmer
Jean-LucHUlmer

@awedelay Anthropology isn't really something that I'd use to my benefit while I'm attempting to promote my pseudo-intellectualism. 

jasongw
jasongw

@sandia The quote is accurate. That said, in what way do you think it "goes against" Rand's idea that each person out there has an inviolable right to their own life? 

MikeKloppel
MikeKloppel

@KristenLopez  Or argued for mass theft. Or argued from a racist perspective. Or every advocated violence or irrational acts of any kind.

She was a beautiful person and putting her name next to Che's because some people think she is "bad" is extremely disgusting.

I would urge the writer to do a simple Google search of ("Ayn Rand lexicon violence") and then do the same with Che.

Do that and  tell me who was worth quoting on a shirt after that and who shouldn't be in the same paragraph as the other.

rainstrife92
rainstrife92

@JValliant I don't doubt you read Ayn Rand, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that you were taught Objectivism in high school. College philosophy professors won't touch it because it's incredibly difficult to understand. Just because you read it doesn't mean you know everything about it.

Also, no, I am no asserting that I know more than you on the topic. In fact, I'll bet good money that I don't.

dagpbert
dagpbert

@DavidBatson Rand escaped from the Soviet Union; her ideas of Objectivism were a direct result from growing up under a Communist regime that practiced Altruism.  That was why she championed the individual and individual rights/freedoms so much; her entire family lost everything to the Marxists in Russia, for the greater good of the state and others.  She very much believed that everyone had the right to chose their own path in life, regardless of what others think a person should or should not do.  Her philosophy came from a childhood and young adulthood spent under a dictatorial government and seeing the consequences to the human spirit from living under such oppression.  She did "make" this for everyone, for the entire world to see that every human can pick their own fate guilt free and that no one owes anything to anybody who has not earned it. 

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

Inasmuch as you may believe yourselves to be the norm, recent evidence has strongly suggested that stupidity and willful ignorance is more the norm among people today - especially in the aftermath of the destruction "no child" has wrecked on the brains of America's youth.

JacobDiehl
JacobDiehl

@AdrianBartholomew The Church of Satan was founded by Anton LaVey; he was a fan of Rand's. It is actually an atheistic ideology that lauds Satan as a representation of carnal, earthly desires.

AdrianBartholomew
AdrianBartholomew

@#libtardedamerica @erh725 Not being guaranteed something does not mean one should not increase one's chances.  Shame on you, taking away valuable hope from a 13 year old and in such an ignorant way.

NathanShafer
NathanShafer

Actually, AdrianBartholomew, while it isn't "founded" in atheism, atheism IS a fundamental part of the philosophy of Objectivism. Rand's philosophy, loosely encapsulated, is about viewing the world as it is, and dealing with that rationally, and faith in God is not a rational thing.

Which is why, despite my profound agreement with Ms. Rand on a great many things, I do not call myself an Objectivist.

groinksan
groinksan

@BlueRavioli What does atheism have to do with anything? Rand may have been an atheist, but any owner of a business believe in capitalism. You can praise a person's philosophy of personal liberty and capitalism even if you don't believe in the same spiritual beliefs.

AdrianBartholomew
AdrianBartholomew

@JoeBlowski @KristenLopez Read what she wrote about the Initiatory Use Of Force.

"
Whatever may be open to disagreement, there is one act of evil that may not, the act that no man may commit against others and no man may sanction or forgive. So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others."

Here is the rest:  
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/physical_force.html

dagpbert
dagpbert

@rainstrife92 @JValliant  As a high school literature teacher, I do often teach Ayn Rand, along with her philosophy of Objectivism - contrasting it with Altruism, which Rand was completely opposed to.  Rand's opposition to religion had NOTHING to do with having a belief in God or not, her point was that religion should not be used to control the unthinking masses, and that everyone has the right to exist on their own terms, as long as they are not purposefully causing harm to anyone else.  You follow the path that makes YOU happy and fulfilled, and if that happens to benefit others who are willing and able to pay for your products/services/whatever, then that's great.  But you DO NOT exist simply to carry the weight of the looters and moochers who won't or can't produce themselves.  Atlas Shrugged is my all time favourite book; and once my students understood Objectivism vs Altruism, our class had some great discussions about Galt's actions being justified or not, Dagney's tenacity to refuse to give up on the human spirit she can't understand is lacking in many people, and how the world would/could collapse if all the intellectuals did decide to go on a global strike.  Maybe the time has come for such a call to arms, metaphorically speaking - Who is John Galt??? Maybe those of us with intelligence and the ability to get things done should all be John Galt and walk away.  Let's see how far the looters and moochers get without us constantly picking up their slack........

Aurélie
Aurélie

@JoeBlowski Degeneracy? Aren't people free to hold their own personal beliefs about the way things are without being labelled? And "atheist" doesn't equal "degenerate". You believe in something that you don't even know exists. Atheists don't. Simple as that. Everybody is free to believe whatever they want to. There are so many religions in the world, so many theories about who God is; atheism is just one of those theories. You've got freedom of faith. Believe whatever you want to. Just don't call people who believe in something different from what you believe in "degenerate".