I Paid $710 to Sneak Into This Club

Christian Dior runway show, Paris Fashion Week, February 2018. (Ik Aldama/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Rachel Greenwald Smith dissects the slogan tee. Is wearing one a form of activism, or the saddest kind of slacktivism? A call for unity, or harbinger of humanitarian crisis? Evidence of revitalized political debate, or “evidence of the ease with which dissent can be marketed”? We wear them to signal our politics, to identify ourselves to like-minded thinkers — but maybe they mask more than they reveal.

At Powell’s Books, I see a woman about my age wearing a white T-shirt with the title of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book We Should All Be Feminists screen-printed on it in all caps. The letters are a little bit faded. She’s flipping through Roxane Gay’s Hunger, thoughtfully biting the nail of her index finger. Even though I know I’ve never met her, I have a rush of identification and unconsciously move closer to her, feeling comfortable in the proximity of a stranger who feels familiar.

When I get home, I Google the T-shirt and learn that it retails for $710 at Dior. That is when I learn that I can no longer tell the difference between friends and enemies.

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