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Stop the Presses: Girl With 178 Free T-Shirts Denounces Free T-Shirts


Photo by MikesPhotos / CC0

Carol Brown began her collection with her college house t-shirt on her first day on campus. “The RAs just looked so welcoming with their little booth outside the house! I couldn’t decline, right?" Brown exclaimed. Then, her voice sank. "But I was young. I was naive. I wish I had never taken that first shirt.”

The next week, school began. “I picked up a shirt here and there,” described Brown. "My house shirt, my class shirt, my three ITA shirts… those weren’t much of a problem. I just convinced myself I was saving money on clothing.” Meanwhile, Brown’s shirts overflowed her dresser and a pile began in the closet. 

Then came PennApps. “The Saturday of PennApps, I grabbed 83 shirts in one day. I tried to stop myself and realized I couldn’t. When I got home, I was fairly certain the pile in my closet had gained consciousness. I knew things had to change. It took me weeks and many more t-shirts to act on that thought, but I finally quit.”

The morning Brown denounced free t-shirts was like any other. “I woke up to the warmth of my t-shirt bed, found five or six that I liked, and put them on.” She waded through her t-shirt piles, selecting three to wear as she went. Putting each on over the last, she went out to the bathroom to brush her teeth. Her reflection stared back at her, examining the top shirt of the day: her 28th “Penn Engineering” shirt. "You’re not even in Engineering, Carol," she thought to herself. "Why are you like this?"

“And that’s the moment I decided to quit. I haven’t accepted a new t-shirt since.”

“Anyways, I already have enough t-shirts to make it through the year without doing laundry," Brown added. "That’s good enough for me.”