These T-Shirts Are Feminist And Introvert-Friendly

by Jodie Layne

If you have Instagram, you probably know that many of the folks at Bustle are big fans of Netflix, wine and tacos. You've also probably realized that we're not alone. The odds are fairly good that you've seen a photo of the goods from Stay Home Club, a Montreal-based lifestyle brand that bills itself as "designs for the disgruntled." The line is dedicated to one thing and one thing only: the introvert life.

While some of you are out there #YOLO-ing it up, there are plenty of people who are just content to stay at home with their chips, wine and furry pets. These humans are candidates for membership in the Stay Home Club and potentially are already card-carrying members (because yes, SHC ships out a membership card with each order). Originally, they sold pillowcases printed with images from artists like Bei Bei Bad Girl and eventually a shirt in owner Olivia Mew's logo design — a woman's face surrounded by cats and their moniker. It was an instant hit and the brand's following remains loyal and committed (they have over 23,000 Instagram followers and, currently, 14 of the 32 styles they've expanded to are completely sold out).That's pretty freakin' impressive for a brand selling sweatshirts that read "Awful" and "The Worst."

Awful Crewneck Sweatshirt, $48,

In similar fashion (get it? Fashion?), All Bad Days is a brand that has a somewhat overlapping ethos: "Art and apparel for the eternally bummed." Riffing off of the popular hashtag #campvibes, they launched their first collection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, totes and prints — entitled "Damp Vibes" — last fall. The collection was a complete hit and even garnered them a celebrity fan: My dream babe, Jessica Williams. Each and every single item sold out!

ABD is sneaking peeks at their new line "Together Alone," which includes underwear printed boldly with "NOPE," pencils that bear their name and "Always Worried," and plenty of branded t-shirts and sweatshirts. I missed out on their first line, but cannot wait to get one of their "NOPE" snapbacks on my head this spring — and I know I'm not alone. It's not surprising to me in the least that it's mostly women who've jumped on the bandwagons of these companies either. I think their messages and presence are something that women have needed for a long time. Can a t-shirt company be revolutionary? I think so. And 2015 seems set to be an all-time banner year for the sad introvert. It's about time.

So Much For Being Optimistic Burn Out Tee, $30,

The gendered double-standards of being emotional, and especially being sad, are blatant but leave no wiggle room for an "appropriate" way for women to be emotional. We're mocked in the media as being "hysterical" with no control over our feelings, ready to cry at moment's notice. We're told to be stronger and more rational, like men (you know that whole monolith of male people and how they all act the same). Yet women in politics and on reality show competitions are bashed for being steely, cold-hearted, uncaring bitches. When men show sadness or depression in literature or on TV, it's seen as either a noble trait or a valiant struggle. When women are sad or depressed, we are perceived as sad and depressed, and no one wants to deal with it.

Women are often viewed as emotional caretakers and universal mother figures. So how could we possibly need help or be sad? These narratives hurt everyone: Male suicide is triple that of women. Women are seen as inherently "moody" (which seems to me like a really condescending way of talking about emotions) and they are twice as likely to experience depression. Feminism is working at breaking down these gender stereotypes so that everyone feels like they have the "permission" and means to express however they're feeling, but it's slow-going. In their own unique ways, I think that ABD and SHC are doing a small part to lessen the stigma around sadness — whether they're directly addressing mental illness or not.

Instagram is a two-headed beast, like most social media. One facet is competition, comparison, and that eternal feeling of FOMO. In the endless feed, it can feel like everyone is living a better life than us and having more fun. Social media is supposed to be for showing our shiniest and most polished moments and selves (our cutest shoes, our sunniest vacations, our most well-plated meals). But pair that with the long-running narrative that women who have feelings are crazy — and that being feminine means being placid, pleasant, and accommodating to everyone at all times — and you have a soul-sucking vortex. Luckily, the other side of social media is connecting us with other people, creating community, and helping us see into people's lives.

Instagram accounts are only as honest and authentic as the people behind them allow them to be. This is why these two specific brands have been so successful and impactful. When people use that space to reject the narrative that every single woman has to be a certain way all of the time, it can be powerful. Admitting we stayed home every single night this weekend and don't plan on going out allows someone else to identify with the sentiment. A selfie of your real "I woke up like this" face, in which you confirm that it's hard to get out of bed (or a post of the inside of your house this week that admits that sometimes it's hard to be "in the world") is something that someone else probably needs to see and hear. And a shirt proclaiming that you've had "All Bad Days" is likely to solicit a nod of solidarity and understanding.

Being a woman can feel extra stressful: Worrying about street harassment, sexual assault, racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of violence while you're just trying to exist and survive has got to contribute to some anxiety. We don't need a t-shirt or a sweatshirt or even an Instagram post to make talking about all this — talking about mental health — normal and necessary. But they can certainly help.

Images: Courtesy Brands; Instagram/StayHomeClubOfficial