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T-Shirts Plight Philadelphia Youth Sexuality

By a Gossiping Bitch on October 2nd, 2003

In Philadelphia, young urban male teenagers are struggling to come to grips with their sexuality as many adorn long, white t-shirts that resemble dresses. What started as a popular trend a few years ago, the “white t-shirt phenomenon” as it has been coined, has spiraled out of control according to many parents in the metro Philadelphia area. The teenagers have become more decorative over the past year, extending their shirt color repertoire to include vibrant color arrays such as lime green, and “player pink.” The colors, according to University of Pennsylvania doctor Jawrell Lickenstein, are a traditional means to attract mates in sexual ritual. But in the case of these teenagers, the length of their shirts have confused many of the teens to court within the same sex.

“What you see happening amongst Philadelphia’s urban [male] youth,” recounts Lickenstein, “are the courting of the mates first by the vibrancy of the t-shirt’s color. This is what attracts the [youth’s] eye initially. But then, as the ritual continues, the length of the shirts (in some cases 4XL and 5XL) throw the heterosexual male’s senses off, making him believe the t-shirt is in fact a dress, and thus a female.”

The history of the white t-shirt is believed to have begun circa-2000 in Philadelphia, although the date is a topic of controversy. Originally a simple white, XL-sized t-shirt used as urban camouflage for the young, black male, the trend caught on fast and became infused with popular urban music icons such as Fabolous and Cam’Ron. New accoutrements were added, such as the flat, fitted baseball cap. When asked about his contribution to Philadelphia’s growing youth-oriented, sexual state of confusion by-way-of-white-t-shirt, flat-cap style-creator, Fabolous commented, “I started ‘dat.”

Philadelphia’s large black Muslim community (see also Muslims Ease Alcohol, Drug Restrictions) originally embraced the idea of the over-sized t-shirt due to its similarities with traditional, Muslim apparel. However, by large, the Muslim community is split on whether the idea is such a good one any more. It should be noted that this Gossiping Bitch interviewed many Muslims (some pseudo, as the case may be) for this article, many of whom not only adorned long t-shirts, but also the ‘Philly Beard‘ most recently made popular by Philadelphia-based, R.O.C.-recording artist, Freeway.

Philadelphia may appear awash in lime green, and orange 4xl t-shirts, but it’s community is standing stronger than ever to work together through these trying times. Philly, of course, has some of its finest repping for them on MTV’s, “Making Da Band”, giving the city hope and pride.

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