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New Bright White Tee Shirt

May 1, 2010

I got a New Bright White Tee Shirt when I went away last week. The old one had turned a not-so-appealing shade of yellowish gray with mysterious pink spots, which I conveniently ignored for a few months of Denial. The tinge of Anger kicked in when I realized that not a single stall in Battambang’s market sells shirts in my size. “But lady, special price for you, and it stretch, so it good for fat like you.”

I Bargained with the sweet woman who washes my clothes when I’m in Phnom Penh, promising an extra dollar if she could make it white again. Depression set in for a little while after she failed; the tee was pushed to the back of my closet and ignored for a few weeks, where it couldn’t remind me how unwearable it had become.

So when I finally Accepted that I would have to buy a New Bright White Tee Shirt, I was oh-so-thrilled to find one that I liked. I wore it yesterday, wore it so carefully. I avoided homes where kids would jump into my arms. I cut my mango into polite bites, instead of knawing it off of the pit. I didn’t lean against dusty walls all day. Really, it was an effort.

And on the way home from visiting some homes in the village, when I stopped to say hi to a friend on the street, a truck went barreling by, right through a Muddy Brown Puddle.

The New Bright White Tee Shirt isn’t so new, nor so bright, nor so white anymore.

It was nice while it lasted.

This week lots of my favorite aid/development blogs have also been talking about Tee Shirts. But their conversations are much more important, because they’re about aid effectiveness and accountability. Check them out:

Zen of Giving and Receiving: A Buddhist Take on Effective Aid

The unkindness of in-kind aid

1 Million tweet-shirts: How to fail fast and with scrutiny

Say no to old clothes

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2010 6:40 pm

    Thanks so much for linking to my post. It has been so interesting to watch the whole 1MillionShirts things unfold, and to see something apparently quite constructive emerge out of it – thought the power of social media and a willingness to enter into real discussion. Quite heartening really, huh?

    • May 6, 2010 11:40 pm

      Hey Marianne, thanks for coming over here too! I love your blog’s combination of personal and humanitarian reflection.

      And yes, great to see positive results coming out of this flurry of discussion and writing. It’s nice to feel like we’re not all just talking to ourselves, right?
      Thanks again for your great writing!

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