There’s something to be said about a simple white T-shirt. It’s universally flattering, and nearly every human being has some rendition of the wardrobe staple in his or her own closet. That includes President Barack Obama.
It seems as though the white crew neck has struck a cord with Obama.
In July New York Times reporter Michael D. Shear wrote the compelling narrative, “Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone.”
The piece described an entirely different man from what the United States was accustomed to. This man enjoys staying up late to watch ESPN and play “Words With Friends” on his iPad. This man has his distinct rituals, coming in the form of seven slightly salted almonds.
What is this man’s dream? He will no longer have to make decisions.
This, sadly, will be true in a week’s time.
This after-hours Obama wants nothing more than to move to Hawaii and open up a T-shirt shack that only sells one variety: white and medium.
Artist and writer Emily Spivack received this message loud and clear, and she took it to heart.
In a shopping center in Honolulu, right next to a Bed Bath & Beyond, is a seemingly ordinary pop-up shop called Medium White Tee.
Inside the small space is a circular rack of white T-shirts, all with the price tag of $44 because Obama was the 44th president. All proceeds go to charity, and the store operates on a purely voluntary basis.
The little shop, adorned with nautical touches of canvas sling-back chairs and leafy green palm trees, is an off-site guest exhibit for the Honolulu Museum of Art.
“It’s meant to evoke the weight of decision-making and discernment responsibilities that every leader is saddled with,” Spivack said to Quartz.
The white medium T-shirt, arguably a timeless classic, fits seamlessly into the locality of Obama’s fantasy retirement business.
Hawaii, in its own way, is like a white T-shirt. It’s a warm and fuzzy hug, an oasis from unnecessary burdens, a society built on values that really matter.
Shopping at a store and choosing which fashions you’d like are all pompous luxuries that are inherently materialistic. When shopping at Obama’s T-shirt shack, there is simply no way to be indecisive.
It is the selling and buying of one item, the innocent transfer of goods. The medium white T-shirt is the U.S., absent of all the unnecessary fluff we surround ourselves with each day.
We unnecessarily burden ourselves with micro- decisions.
What lipstick shade will look best with this top? Should I walk or be lazy and take the bus? How should my hair look — straightened or curled?
The next time you’re flummoxed by the simplest question, remember Obama’s medium white T-shirt. This man, our president, has had to make far more difficult choices than we will have to make in our lifetime.
This article was originally published as a column for the Indiana Daily Student on 12 January 2017.