Geeze, It’s Just a T-Shirt

Once upon a time I had a T-shirt that said “What part of NO don’t you understand”?

One year–years ago–I wore it to a non-denominationsal retreat that I’ve attended every year since 1994. I’ve been repeatedly judged for something I wore literally YEARS ago (the T-shirt has long since deteriorated and been thrown away)

I’m being told over and over again that the T-shirt represents my current attitude towards life and towards other people (if that was true, don’t you think I’d either have replaced it, or made sure to keep it from deteriorating?)

Geeze, it was just a T-shirt and it was worn literally years and years ago.

I had lots of choice in T-shirts throughout my life. My family may not have liked the sayings on some of them, but then again it was MY money and MY choice of what to buy and what to wear from the time I graduated from high school until this very day.

I could have chosen to worn “I’m perfectly adjusted so don’t touch the knobs” (with decals over the nipples for the knobs) or “sex is like air, its not that important til you aren’t getting any‘ or “sex is like gasoline, self-service is always faster, easier, and cheaper” or “I’d like to care but my give-a-damn is busted” or “attitude is everything” or “If you don’t like my attitude, quit talking to me” or my personal favorite, the bright pink one with “miss bossy” on it.

I’ve got a Jack Daniels T-shirt too that says “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” and I don’t even drink.

There were a few other T-shirts from Big Dog that would have been semi-offensive to some people; its been a long time since I wore them or even seen them, so long that I don’t even remember where they are much less what they said.

I have a T-shirt that says “Makes Me Crazy” in bright yellow felting on a dark blue T-shirt. It was an inside joke between myself and my therapist (ie ‘nobody can “make you crazy” unless you let them’–that was her opinion, and I didn’t agree!).

I used to have a T-shirt that was from the Big Dog store that said “Large and in Charge.” Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I have weight and body image issues. I have always chosen to wear large (3x 4x 5x) T-shirts because trying to look small when you aren’t is fake, as well as being dismissive of your own body. It has taken me years and years to be able to look at my naked body in a mirror and not trash myself.

Yes, these are/were real T-shirts that either I had in my teenage/young adult years or have now.

I had enough respect for the other members of my retreat to NOT wear any of those T-shirts that I thought could have been offensive to any of the retreats.

I never realized that people at retreat would have issues with the ‘what part of no don’t you understand” T-shirt because everybody around me (co-workers, friends, even my freaking mother) absolutely LOVED that T-shirt.

I don’t see or understand why some members of my retreat group have so many issues with it that it’s been brought up repeatedly–and negatively–for years!

I didn’t wear the offensive T-shirts to ANY of my offline jobs. I have enough respect for myself, my employers, and my co-workers to understand and comply with even unwritten rules about work clothes (even in a casual Friday environment). I did wear the non-offensive (to MOST people) T-shirts to work when allowed.

But my opinion is that they are just T-shirts.

Yeah, they may start conversations (my generation and younger generations love the sex t-shirts), yeah I may get stares or not-so-nice comments from older generations (my retreat friends are 15-20 years older than I am). I imagine my mother’s generation would not appreciate the sex t-shirts.

SO WHAT? If I’m okay with conversations, comments, and stares, why is it a big deal for anybody else? Why in particular is it a big deal for retreat participants?

And here’s the deal, most if not all of those T-shirts and any others I might have missed bring back memories for me. They were nearly all bought at Big Dog T-Shirts on the Oregon Coast, the Big Dog store has gone out of business and there never was one in Bend.

When I had money I bought T-shirts like other people buy candy bars. Sometimes the decals I had transferred onto the T-shirts were a bit edgy, and sometimes they were pre-printed shirts. I’ve got a T-shirt from when I went to visit a friend in Ohio, I’ve got a Kennedy Space Center T-shirt from when I went to Florida in 2007, I’ve got a T-shirt with a cat on it, I’ve got a pink T-shirt with sequins on it from my vacation in Arizona in 1997, I have a T-shirt thats pink with an owl on it. For me, they are just pieces of clothing, some have messages, some don’t.

Yes, NO is a very powerful word and it seems to bother some people (funnily enough, most of these people have NO problem when they are the one using the word). It’s a word I was not allowed to use as a child and teenager. If I said NO or otherwise refused to do/say/believe/feel something or other I was either threatened with a beating or beaten. As an adult, I’ve allowed myself to say NO to things that aren’t healthy for me mentally, physically, or emotionally

If other people have such serious issues with what I choose to put on my body, I have to wonder what their issues are.

Geeze, It’s Just a T-Shirt!!

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