I get it: you love America. So do I! I was born here and have no desire to move elsewhere, for it truly is my home. The reason I know you love it here, too, is because of what you tend to wear to celebrate this nation’s big holidays—particularly Independence Day. The thing is, while I 100% support the gusto with which you reveal where your heart lies, I cannot for the life of me understand the wearing of clothing that appears to be made out of the American Flag.
Please hear me out. I grew up as the daughter of a decorated military man with great respect for our flag and the people who have fought for our country. Since I was able to stand upright, I knew the proper way to handle and fold a flag. It was often my responsibility to help ensure the flag in front of my childhood home flew when it was supposed to, and was moved to half-staff when appropriate. Never in my life have I ever allowed one to slip from my hands to touch the ground, whether a full-sized elegantly embroidered flag or cheap decorative one on a stick.
To this day, I cringe when I see people shoving their sweaty selves into summer wear that is made to look like the American flag. That the most recognizable symbol of our nation is frequently being used as swim trunks that we all know will eventually be discreetly peed in by the adults who wear them completely befuddles me.
Back in 1942, Congress passed a joint resolution to make the lengthy list of U.S. Flag Code guidelines into law. They cover everything from how to handle it, where to display it, the speed at which one should raise or lower it, and so much more. One particular item from those guidelines I’d like to touch on is, “The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat.”
So, a war vet would never ride in a car with a flag on its hood during a parade, but you feel comfortable sliding a star-spangled thong between your buttcheeks or letting your underboob sweat soak through a similarly styled bikini top? A boat cannot be decorated with the old Red, White, and Blue for worry the water would eventually damage this symbol of our nation’s freedom, but it’s cool for your man to don a sleeveless tee that replicates Old Glory at a summer kick-off pool party, even if he’s likely to spill beer, butter, or marinated meat across the front?
I just don’t get it.
Every time I hit the beach, attend a parade, or witness a race, there are people wearing Stars-and-Stripes bandanas for the sole purpose of catching their sweat. Every time I take the family to see fireworks, there’s inevitably some babies there pooping in flag-like onesies. My brain cannot compute their fashion choices, for these are the same people who rise with a hand on their hearts upon seeing the flag in a stadium or other public event.
Perhaps I would understand this flag-wearing behavior a little better if the people wearing it weren’t so often talking about how much they respect it. How is reshaping the topmost emblem of our country into socks, sweatpants, rompers, muscle shirts, maxi-dresses, yoga pants, underwear, board shorts, and tee-shirts a sign of respect? How is regularly sloughing off skin cells, hair, perspiration, and all other sorts of DNA into those clothes without a second thought respect?
When I respect something, I try not to cut it up, stink it up, or stain it. Maybe that’s that me?
To those of you who are wondering how to show your pride if not with flaggy gear this Fourth of July, I point you into the direction of three colors: red, white, and blue. There are endless options of all clothing styles offered in the colors of our flag, which can be mixed and matched at will. There are also plenty of tops with strong, fun, or funny sayings on them in those colors, too, that can express exactly how you’re feeling about our flag/country without your needing to wrap one around your nether regions, across your sweat glands, or in the direct path of deliciously drippy summer barbecue food.
Sure, it might not feel quite as festive as your usual fare, but some of us would see it as even more patriotic. And isn’t that what you were going for all along?