A while back I was using iron-on letters to make an impromptu jersey for Andrea’s derby bout and it reminded me of one of my favorite shirts from childhood.
I tried to find a picture of said shirt, but alas I do not have one in my photo albums. I will just have to describe it for you and use Google images to give you an idea of how glorious this shirt was.
For those of you who did not grow up in the late seventies/early eighties, screen printing wasn’t the thing it was now. But iron-on decals? Hell to the yes! There were stores where they had stock images and you could pick what you wanted and they had a full shirt sized iron that they would use to affix it to the shirt of your choice. It was a Big Deal.
I remember the store in Mason City that was next to Target, and it had a wall full of cool and questionable designs just ripe for adhering to a shirt. I was always wanting some excuse to get my own cool personalized shirt.
Thankfully, my grandmother found a great reason to get me one, although it probably wasn’t what most kids would appreciate. When I was eleven or twelve, I started getting hit by the raging hormones. Puberty was not kind to me. It wouldn’t take much to get me on a crying jag that would last for (what seemed like) hours at a time. I was miserable, and making my family miserable as well. One particularly bad incident involved my eleven year old self having to take beginners swimming classes at city beach. There weren’t a whole lot of places to hang out at in Clear Lake in the summer. So I was afraid that my peers and classmates would see me swimming with kindergartners at the beach and make fun of me. I was mortified and cried and cried and cried. And cried some more.
Later that day, Grandma had to run some errands in Mason, so she stopped at the t-shirt shop to get me a little something to cheer me up. The front had a beautiful glittery rainbow on it. Because I was a pre-teen in the eighties, so of course I loved rainbows.
But the back? The back is what made it magical. Because the back had personalized letters in rainbow glitter. And what was the message, delivered through the rainbow letters on the back of my shirt?
Yes, Grandma got me a shirt that said Puberty is the Pits. Because it was. On so many levels, it was horrendous. Here’s the amazing part:
I actually wore it. I wore it a lot. Like, it was one of my favorite shirts so I wore it ALL THE TIME. Which looking back on it, is probably pretty weird for a self-conscious adolescent girl to draw attention to all the changes she’s going through on her way to adulthood.
There were some folks who didn’t get it. I did have some adults who clucked about appropriateness. Surprisingly, none of my teachers objected. I would have expected that somewhere along the line a teacher or school admin would have bawked and said I couldn’t wear it to school, but that never happened. I think they were more amused than anything else.
The weirdest response was actually from a peer who had her terms confused. I was wearing my shirt to school one day, and Gina asked me, “Why are you advertising that? Aren’t you embarrassed?”
“Um, advertising what?”
“That you have your puberty.”
“I’m pretty sure that my boobs and zits indicate that I’m going through puberty.”
“No, I mean…you know…” and she points down to her crotch area.
“Yeah. Why would you tell the world you have that?”
“I’m not saying I have my period, it says I’m going through puberty. Not having my period.”
“Aren’t they the same thing?”
At which point I rolled my eyes and turned back around in my seat. Clearly someone was not paying attention during health class.
I can’t imagine getting away with that shirt today. Of course, I can’t see a whole lot of kids that would actually wear it. But for a couple glorious years, that was the most epic shirt I owned.
Until I got an Air Supply concert t-shirt, of course.