Just last week, I began my daily routine of secretly trolling Instagram at 7AM, refusing to get out of bed at such an ungodly hour. Typically, there isn't much going on at 7AM that I didn't catch the night before, occasionally friends from my neighborhood bar will appear on my phone screen, drunk, yelling, and I'll feel a twinge of jealousy until I check the time posted — three hours ago?? Nope. Just as I was going to make my final half-hearted scroll, a seemingly mundane picture caught my eye. It wasn't the pic of gaunt, unimpressed models in skant, all-white evening attire — you know, the kind of attire that you would only wear if you were attending an award show? No, those pictures are a dime a dozen as summer rounds the corner stumbling into Fashion Week. What had me sitting up straight was the hilarious conversation below the caption on a photo of Zara's controversial "White Is The New Black" tee.
My cousin, a fab costume designer, facetiously admits that she had no idea why everyone was up in arms about the statement tee. After all, Rebecca goes on to marvel, there are very few celebs dripped in black garments at this typical red carpet event. Knowing my cousin fairly well, I giggled at her sarcasm, but what really had me in some morning stitches, was IG followers who claimed to purchase the tee because white was their new fave color. "Yussss!" I thought, what a hilarious dialogue to have on a public platform first thing in the morning."This warrants starting my day an hour early."Of course this got me thinkin' about all the distasteful tees out there. Is Zara's shirt super offensive to me? Meh, not really, but it definitely makes me tilt my head to one side, my mouth to the other and think "C'mon, brah... think just a lil bit."
As someone who wears band tees that some find offensive
(pentagrams, flaming nuns, and profanities hurled at the rich), I try not to
throw stones in glass houses. However, there are plenty of tees that I've
stumbled upon in my lifetime that had me stop and question the violent urges
suddenly swimming around my mind. Some of these aren't offensive to everyone, but drudge up painful memories and stereotypes for others. Just because you have the right to be offensive, doesn't mean the masses won't try to silence your ignorant behind.
1. Co-Ed Naked
administrations were none too impressed by the surge of Coed Naked t-shirts
being worn by their youthful students. If you lived in New Hampshire in 1994,
you may have been sent home from school because of your "Coed Naked
2. Keep Calm, Rape On
I honestly thought the wacky groups out there to preserve white ethnicity would be the most offensive personal opinion/stance someone could take until I saw this T-shirt. Not only are the "Keep Calm..." shirts incredibly annoying to me, but encouraging rape is one of the more ign'ant things you can stand for. In fact, you'd have to be one of the very few people in the world to not have been or know someone affected by sexual assault to not demand for this shirt's extinction. Amazon pulled the shirt from its site almost immediately and the company shortly went out of business.
3. White is the New Black
Now, is the goth in me offended or is the Black-American in me offended?
Here's the thing, white isn't the new black at all. Unless... wait does that mean, that white folks are being stop and frisked in Harlem more than any other ethnicity? Are white people growing more and more afraid of the police and the government that "protects them?" I imagine my grandmother in Virginia seeing this t-shirt and fainting, then me having to be like "No, Grandma, it's not like that at all. We're actually not finally switching places with white folks." Maybe when a bunch of teen goths start running around in all white eyeliner and white long velvet skirts Zara could give this another go... but I wouldn't advise it.
4. Enjoy the Silence
Plenty of popular
surf shops have stopped selling this arguably offensive tee which subtly encourages
women to stay silent on issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault.
Apparently, the ocean is really quiet and that's the excuse that is made to
justify the meaning behind this shirt. Life can't possibly be silent when you
are wearing a shirt that will make people want to scream in your ignorant face.
5. Prison-Striped Star of David Shirt
Zara is starting to remind me of my racist uncle. You know he's not super racist and it's not his fault that he catches on slow, but sometimes I wonder if all of us know better, why doesn't he? We still talk to him because you know what? He genuinely feels bad afterwards and he has really cool hats. Wow, just like Zara! The popular clothing company has removed the shirt and issued an excuse similar to my fave popular excuse used by most racists: "You know I didn't mean it that way".
6. "I had a Nightmare — I was Brunette"
I had a nightmare that we were in an '80s cliché where people
still had hair color stigmas. Abercrombie
& Fitch, competing with Zara for world's most endearing ignorant company,
pulled the shirt from their popular clothing line after numerous complaints
were made on not just this particular winning tee, but an entire series of shitty shirts for
women to put down other women based on image. Unfortunately, the damage was done and small venders continue to make the shirt — custom-made, of course.
7. Eat Less
Because no one has eating disorders and body image issues in 2014! That's how I imagine the geniuses at Urban Outfitters came up with another offensive t-shirt. I know some intelligent people that work on the floor at Urban; I'm thinking they should be allowed to attend those close-door meetings so they can stop corporate from repeating the same offensive mistake in a variety of subjects plastered on a tee.
8. Don't Be Sexist, Bitches Hate That
A few years ago, a pal and I were in line at the deli when of course, someone with exact change jumped in front of us while we were putting our items on the counter. "'Ey! You don't see these bitches on line in front of you?" The deli guy exclaimed, proud that he defended our honor as my friend and I begrudgingly purchased our Limonitas in disgust. Personally, I am trying to phase out the word bitch — it's just gotten out of hand. I'm going to do the job that Queen Latifah started, but then had to focus on her denim game, talk show game, cover girl game instead: Don't call me a bitch, I don't think it's funny, I don't think it's cute, I don't think we're "past that." That goes for all genders, you will see my shoulders tense, my eyes narrow, and my sense of humor shut down when I am the subject behind the word bitch. Thanks to the many companies that will put literally anything on a shirt, I get to see teens, grown-ups, and yes, even an elderly man on the subway sporting this offensive tee.
9. A Mexican Stole My Other Shirt
1. I don't believe you 2. Are you saying you only have two shirts? 3. You're a dick. I stumbled upon this hidden gem in a sea of "Keep Calm and Date a Mexican Girl" and "Everyone Loves a Mexican Girl" tees. I am still trying to figure out the target audience for this specific tee. Also, do all brown people share the stealing stereotype now?
Whatever happened to the "If you think what you have to say is offensive, don't say it" rule of thumb that my parents made me follow? Fortunately, most of these shirts are out of circulation, but let them stand as a reminder for companies to smarten up just a little bit.