Last year, while at an academic conference in New Orleans, I spent an afternoon walking through the French Quarter with friends, looking at the kitsch offered in many of the stores there: gaudy jewelry, tawdry souvenirs, Mardi Gras beads adorned with phallic symbols. And t-shirts: lots and lots of t-shirts, with slogans too offensive to mention on this blog. As we browsed through the stores, laughing—sometimes uncomfortably—at what we were seeing, I kept wondering what kind of reasoning process would accompany someone making such a purpose:“Hey, I think I’ll let everyone around me judge me by my extraordinarily crass sense of humor! I’ll let this t-shirt announce that I am a sex-craved misogynist/potty-mouthed bigot/fill-in-the-blank pervert.” In other words, why anyone would want to label himself by the $5 t-shirt purchased on the French Quarter is beyond me.
I had much the same reaction to the t-shirts I found at the Christian Single Women’s shop online. Sure, there wasn’t the same degree of skank. But would someone really want to buy a “Christian Wife in Training” golf t-shirt for $22.00? And what reasoning process might accompany such a purchase? The shirt comes in white, representing—I’m guessing here—the wearer’s purity and innocence. The site suggests women might wear this to “let the world know you’re in training, preparing to be a Christian wife,” which got me to wondering: does one wear this shirt before she’s betrothed? I mean, the message is a little confusing, isn’t it? Doesn’t a woman preparing to be a Christian wife need an Intended to help in the preparation?
Not so ambiguous are some other offerings at the shop, including the “iDate Christian Men Only” line: baseball caps, long sleeved t-shirts, mugs and cell phone covers, even a spaghetti strap tee (because you might as well look uber-sexy for those Christian men you plan on hooking). The line also includes aprons, which I imagine can let the single Christian man know, even subliminally, that your domestic skills are top-notch. The products come in a variety of colors—including the purist of white!—and, as the designer suggests, you can use the products to “Clarify your Christian dating standards and let everyone know that as a Christian single woman, you only date Christian single men.” Each and every product also comes printed with a Bible verse, 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do those who do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” I guess it’s good to get it right out there: that you don’t plan to yoke yourself with wicked guys, no matter how perky you look in your spaghetti strapped tee.
And then there is the “Mrs. Right” line of products. No, not that Mrs. Right line (look only at your own risk). This Mrs. Right product allows you to proclaim that “Your Search is Over: My Name is Mrs. Right.” With this t-shirt, the description says, “you won’t make him guess. Let him know you’re the Christian single woman he’s been looking for.” But only, of course, if he’s a good-and-single Christian guy. You can stamp the Mrs. Right label onto tank tops, too, because apparently this kind of Mrs. Right is still a real woman, and doesn’t care if her bare arms show (though the more modest can wear a long-sleeved hoodie). And, of course, every product comes branded with a Bible verse, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). Just what every woman shopping at a shop for Christian singles needs to remember: that being a wife is a “good thing” indeed, and that God favors those who find a spouse. Quite a sales pitch, if you ask me.