A T-Shirt I Can't Wear to the Gym

I like Under Armour shirts, of which I have four or five. I wear them to the gym because while all synthetics wick sweat, none do it quite so well as Under Armour. (Which is strange because the tag inside an Under Armour shirt, like every synthetic tee I’ve seen, reads “100% polyester.” And how different can one polyester be from another?)

But there is one Under Armour t-shirt that I no longer wear to the gym. I got tired of people doing double-takes of the shirt and then scowling at me. The shirt might just as well read, “Hitler European Tour 1939-1945.” And yet all that it has on it is a monochrome photo of a bowhunter, standing in a treestand, about to come to full draw.

Sounds ridiculous, right? But this shirt gets to people. I’ve spent a good deal of time trying to figure out why. And I have a theory. It’s because it shows a part of hunting that many people would rather not be reminded of: the act of killing itself. Or, rather, a man who is totally focused on killing.

The hunter—a squat, compact guy to start with—squats even lower and bends his torso for the downward shot. He is bowlegged and has his feet spread wide, both of which exaggerate his predatory posture. Substitute a stick bow for the compound, a tree limb for the treestand, and the image seems to suggest a prehistoric hunter, back before we became more slender and elongated. A time when hunting was survival. This ancient and predatory effect is even further exaggerated because much of the guy’s face is in shadow. And what isn’t in shadow is expressionless, unreadable.

All in all, it’s a reminder of some part of hunting—maybe some part of ourselves—that’s a jolt to many in the modern world.

I’ve never seen anybody else wearing this shirt. I’ve never seen it in any catalog. I can’t find it on the web. Apparently, an image depicting our predatory nature is not something today’s consumer want on a T-shirt—or maybe anywhere else.