Sexy 'n Spiritual Tees for Jesus
She headed to the mirror for a final check, tousled her hair, and draped just-so her tunic-length tank tee blazoned with an oversized open tube of lipstick, a pouty "mwah!" kiss print and girly script reading "Don't Be Tempted." Satisfied with her reflection, she grabbed her Bible and headed out the door to … where? The mall? A party?
Not this morning. She was heading to church in her brand-new OMG wear.
OMG has created a line of casual tanks and tees designed for Saturday night parties and Sunday morning worship. Founded in 2010, the California company's website features teen models giving the camera their best PG-13 "come hither" looks, often wearing little more than tees and tanks splashed with slogans like "A Date With J.C.", "God Knows My Secrets," and "Worship Crew." Who knows? Perhaps the "come hither" is intended to be a non-verbal evangelistic tool.
There have been at least two generations of the Christian T-Shirt—the derivative-yet-earnest variety and the darkly ironic—but OMG has created a brand-new category: Sexy 'n Spiritual. Christians have a long, ignoble history of trading in all manner of religious tchotchkes, but OMG, with its Second Commandment-bending name, takes this bad habit of ours in a new direction, with its products' odd syncretism between pop religion and hyper-sexualized pop culture.
OMG's website explains the mission: "We believe in sharing our faith & love through fashion while embracing our fun & characteristic lifestyle as well as giving back to the community." The message I received from a tour of the website was that this fun and characteristic lifestyle is overtly sensual in nature. The imprinted messages splashed across the front of the tees baptize that sensuality in churchy language. It's casual wear for the hot Christian woman!
If expressing our faith is akin to rooting for our home team, a "Princess of Peace" tee is nothing more than an especially tasteless expression of our status as brand loyalists, not unlike wearing a Viking helmet to one's own wedding. However, purchasing Jesus-y fan swag isn't too far removed from more familiar consumer expressions of Christian team loyalty: boycotting retailers who say "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas," or lining up around the block to buy deep-fried chicken sandwiches as a sign of solidarity with a Christian business owner. All of these decisions share an underlying assumption: The world will know us by our consumer purchases.
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