Nudity and scrutiny at UM: Tales of a risqué t-shirt

Living in Miami is wonderful, partly because you can walk along South Beach and innocently glance over your shoulder to see a tall man with an oil-drenched upper body, green pants, a matching fedora and a fistful of cash. No one bats their eyes or even thinks twice about seeing the man, even though he’s probably the direct inspiration for Pootie Tang. But, on the oversensitive and undersexed campus of the University of Miami, students and professors pull out the dirtiest of looks when an unassuming sophomore wears a shirt with a photo of an attractive, naked girl sprawled across the front. And trust me – unlike the hilarious bus driver in Billy Madison played by Chris Farley – I actually do know from experience.

My journey began on an average Wednesday. The night before, I received a shipment of new t-shirts by parcel and I simply couldn’t hold back my excitement to showcase them in public. By the time the next day rolled around – in a post-shower, split-second decision – I chose to wear the aforementioned “Naked Chick” shirt, as far too many people referred to it that day.

The first order of business was a quick trip to the newsroom, on the way to which I noticed a man in a car who nearly drove headfirst into a telephone pole as he squinted at the intricacies of the female anatomy. I didn’t think too much of it, and proceeded on. Before I knew it, I had to pause my iPod’s jams because it seemed as though every single passerby had a witty remark to bestow on his or her pal and I was interested in their comical gems. The hilarious comments ranged from “what the f*ck is he wearing?” to “that chick is hot!”

And if these students had no comment to make, they simply glared chest-level at me for a few seconds and soon after looked into my eyes, as if to discover what perversion my soul held and what kind of childhood sparked the inspiration to wear such vile and disgusting attire. By the time I left the newsroom and strolled into my first class, it was as if I’d pulled a Moses while I walked through the center aisle. Every single person turned around or even stood up to catch a glimpse of what was on my chest. The rest of the class went by rather normally – save for a boy sitting in front of me who just couldn’t help turning around every few minutes to “accidentally” stare at the “hot chick.”

My next class was English, and, fittingly, we discussed the difference between normal and abnormal and how society defines the difference. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was actually acting abnormally by flaunting pornography on my body, but my reflection was quickly interrupted by an excited exclamation of “that’s a sick shirt, bro!” by one of my classmates.

With classes over for the day, I decided to further examine reactions to my t-shirt around campus. It was more of the same – glances, stares, giggles and glares.

Though a weaker person may have folded under the unbelievable scrutiny from his or her fellow students, I decided to take it in stride. However, I simply couldn’t believe the effect of my outfit on my day’s activities. After all, I had an instant conversation starter that catalyzed me speaking with people I most likely never would’ve met, I got ridiculed more than I did through all of my K-12 years, and, strangely, enough people stared at me to actually convince me that I may have been doing something wrong all along.

But to hell with that. College is all about trying new things, experimenting and acting in ways you wouldn’t act in the “real world.” If not now, then when? I mean, wearing such a shirt in the corporate setting just might spawn you a sexual harassment case before you hit your lunch break. So go out and try ridiculous things. Go wear a scarf while you ride on a tricycle. Go blast ZZ Top out of your ’90s-era boom box as you walk through the UC. For heaven’s sake, just don’t be the person who watches instead of acts. Because believe it or not, those glancers/starers/gigglers/glarers secretly wish they could pull of a shirt like mine. After all, who wouldn’t?