The “subway shirt” concept seems to have first appeared on TikTok in 2022.Screenshots from TikTok
On TikTok, some women are posting about wearing large T-shirts that they call “subway shirts.”
The shirts are worn with the purpose of preventing catcalling while commuting.
Leaving the house with a “subway shirt” has been a “rule” that some say they’ve lived by for years.
As summer approaches, with all its promises of bright, sunny, sweaty weather, some women are taking to TikTok to issue a warning for others to protect themselves on public transport.
The term “subway shirt” is gaining traction on TikTok, where women are filming themselves wearing oversized T-shirts over their strappy summer tops for safety while commuting.
“Otherwise known as an outfit dampener, it’s an oversized tshirt we wear over our cute outfits so strange men don’t bother you on the train,” one TikToker wrote in a video posted on April 15, which has received 2.6 million views.
The concept seems to have first emerged on TikTok in 2022 when several women filmed themselves putting an overshirt on to go outside despite the intense summer weather. It’s picked up steam in recent months, and videos posted in April and May have received millions of cumulative views.
Some TikTokers described it as a “rule” they have lived by for years to help them feel more safe, due to harassment being a “huge problem” in the cities where they live.
In one video posted on May 24, one user said that she still experienced catcalling even though she wears a large overshirt most of the time while commuting.
“I think at this point, guys will catcall at anything,” she said.
Several commenters responded to the videos by saying they related to feeling unsafe in public spaces, particularly during the summer, and that they believe it’s a shame women are going to these lengths to protect themselves.
“It’s so exhausting being on guard all the time for just existing in a feminine body,” one user wrote.
In a 2014 survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment, 65% of women said they had experienced sexual harassment.
As Insider previously reported, women are increasingly using TikTok to document street harassment in real-time. Going viral with such posts has often resulted in renewed harassment in online spaces, which some women said created a “retraumatizing” effect.
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