Monday, May 16, 2005

What is an "A-Shirt"?

I like to wear an undershirt betwixt my soft skin and my outer, for-the-public-to-see, shirt. If the outer shirt of the day happens to be a t-shirt, my first choice for undershirt would be a sleeveless, ribbed, tight fitting, undergarment, i.e., a "wifebeater". I have been wearing wifebeaters as undershirts for the better part of a decade now, and throughout said usage, I have, without fail, referred to these shirts as the aforementioned "wifebeaters".

Of course, the term "wifebeater" is not without controversy. A few years back, I needed to update my wifebeater collection, so I asked my mom if she could pick up a pack or two for me while she was out at K-Mart, Target, etc. She immediately responded that the term that I had so nonchalantly used, "wifebeater", was disparaging, offensive, and improper. While I did not disagree that glamorizing spousal abuse through fashionistic terms was proper, I was at a loss as to what else to call said garment. (Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, has said that, "the implication [of using the term to discribe the undershirt] is that wife beating is not viewed as sufficiently serious to lift it above the level of something that's OK to joke about.")

Turns out, a wifebeater (the garment) is properly known as an "A-Shirt" (by the "major three": Fruit of the Loom, Hanes, and Jockey). I was not aware this term existed until several years after I had already taken to wearing "a-shirts" on a regular basis. Anyway, as you can see from the above links to the major underwear producers, wifebeaters are packaged as "a-shirts", which leads a question that I have been pondering for quite some time: When are the manufacturers of these undershirts going to end the charade and just call a spade a spade, i.e., when is the Hanes, etc. packaging just going to say "wifebeater"?

Personally, I think it's a good twenty-plus years away, if ever. In fact, Wikipedia states that the term has possibly been around since the 70s, which means that the major three underwear giants have withstood the adament pro-wifebeater-namechange lobby for 30-plus years now. Impressive. So, what do you think? Will the common, "popular" term take over for the "technical" term, or are "a-shirts" here to stay. . . .


PositiveMode said...
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The Grapes, from the Loom said...

Maybe "Whorebeater" would be easier to swallow by the National Organization for Women. Most women don't fall into the Whore class, so it's safe to say the only ones put down by this are the Whores. Let's be honest, they only serve one purpose anyway and I could care less about a Whore's feelings, then again, she is probably a Whore because that is the only way to avoid a good beating.