We thought 2023 would be an age of flying cars and robots on the streets, but women are still covering up and layering clothes like in primitive times.
Summer is just around the corner, and New Yorkers are sporting baggy clothes on top of their outfits to avoid creeps on the street. We thought 2023 would be an age of flying cars and robots on the streets, but women are still covering up and layering clothes like in primitive times. Times have not changed, nor have the mindsets. Many women across social media platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, are adopting the "subway shirt" trend. It involves concealing their skin in public spaces to combat the rampant problem of sexual harassment and unwanted attention. "Just know if you see me in a white button down, the real fit is underneath," said Rae Hersey (@rae.hersey), 27, in a TikTok video.
While speaking to the New York Post, Hersey said she has lived in NYC for nine years but only recently started carrying a subway shirt to cover up while underground. "Coming out of COVID lockdowns, I started to feel significantly less safe in the city," she said, adding that someone on the 1 train pulled a knife on her and her boyfriend in a mid-day attempted robbery in April. The encounter reminded Hersey of her vulnerability in the subway and that wearing an oversized white button-down helps her feel less visible. "Wearing a shirt on top doesn't necessarily stop anything from happening, but it makes me feel more comfortable," Hersey said.
Hersey's video is not the only one dedicated to the trend, as a woman named Fiona, who goes by the username @fionaylin on TikTok, also shared a video reminding women to wear their subway shirts during the summer. "Now that it's finally getting warmer in New York, this is your reminder to always wear a subway shirt/jacket over your cute outfit to protect yourself,” Fiona captioned a video showing the oversized blazer she wore over her dress. She wraps an oversized blazer over her dress to cover anything creeps might try to film or objectify her over.
London-based influencer Sophie Milner (@itssophiemilner) hopped on the trend and shared a TikTok video wearing subway shirts over multiple outfits. "I didn't realize everyone else did this too. it is a huge problem in London. There are so many outfits I've just never worn out or had to change so much, just because I knew people would make me feel uncomfortable for wearing it - be it catcalling or stares," she captioned the video.
TikTok user Claire (@quesoscorpio) posted a video of her wearing an oversized white T-shirt over a turquoise mesh dress. She captioned the 5K times viewed video as, "Stay safe ladies," under the tag #nycsybway. According to The Guardian, Leora Tanenbaum, the author of "I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet," hopes these videos of women wearing baggy clothes to ensure their safety will shed light onto the challenges women face every day.
"I think it's fantastic these TikToks are raising awareness of the harm caused by sexual harassment and assault in public spaces," Tanenbaum said. "Hopefully, more people now will recognize how scary it can be to simply go about your day, including taking the subway, when you present as feminine." Layering on clothes might make women feel faded into the background, but Tanenbaum said it should never be a requirement. "If someone does not wear a 'subway shirt' over their tank top and is victimized, they did nothing wrong."