My Alter Ego: Suffering with Romnesia

During the months before the election, while keeping a close eye on Obama’s opponent Mitt Romney, I found myself getting wildly upset over anything the man said or did. How could anyone trust this man ? For me I felt like these people, these Romney supporters, have got to be from another planet. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who gets a physical reaction of disgust when even reading his name. This inspired me to become what I can’t understand, and to perhaps experience what it feels like to cause a physical reaction of disgust because of my alter’s support of Mitt.

Day One: Thanksgiving!

Before being surrounded by hungry Democrats

I decided to wear the shirt today to see if I could get any reactions from my family. The perfect situation of surrounding myself with a huge group of hungry democrats. The only family member that truly knew who I voted for (Obama) was my Aunt Donna, and I was surprised by her reaction to my shirt. She hosts all of our holiday events and so when she answered the door she said hello then gave me the dirtiest look and pretended to violently punch my stomach while shouting “ROMNEY?!”.

Right before she went in for the punch

Check out that look of disbelief. (after punch)

That actually caught me off guard. I just gave a nervous laugh and entered the kitchen. I was greeted by my cousin O.J who then said, “Haa. whoA. Vintage shirt you got there.”

My cousin O.J coming up with my name for the day, Romna.

I don’t usually talk politics with my family. I tend to go off in the corner and discuss movies and video games with my cousins. This time my corner conversations didn’t happen, I ended up having a talk with my Uncle Oscar, he took one look at my shirt and started laughing. He said “Romney? Wow.” and we sat on the couch together. He said to me, “I feel like Romney wouldn’t look out for me. I feel like there would be a problem sitting across from him at a table and having a conversation. But if I were to sit across from Michelle and Barrack we’d have no trouble talking. Obama may not have all the answers, but at least I know he’s looking out for me.” I just nodded, and I let him in on my project. He was leaving in an hour to work Black Friday anyways. He laughed and said he was relieved.

Uncle Oscar’s initial disbelief

Disbelief turns into hysteric laughing. And Mom photo-bombing again.

I pretty much got the same reactions from my family every time. Just a lot of disgusted looks and “Romney?!”. I was surprised that none of my cousins wanted to start any conversations with me. They just teased me. My cousin O.J called me Romna all day, and my cousin Matthew just squinted his eyes at me every time we happened to look at each other. During our annual secret Santa list making, Matt said I definitely want a Romney shirt, then proceeded to laugh hysterically. All this teasing was definitely annoying. My holiday was turning out to be more stressful then it should’ve been. Thanks a lot Mitt.

An example of my cousin Matt’s disapproving stare

During dinner my Aunt Cheryl was sitting across from me and she stared at my shirt with a hurt look on her face. She said, “Amy, do you really support Mitt Romney?” my Mother butted in and said ,”Yep. She did.” and my Aunt looked down at her food with her sad look and said, “How could you do that?” I felt like I deeply hurt her somehow. It was really uncomfortable.

By the end of the day I was getting really fed up with the teasing and looks. I took off the shirt and I explained the project. Everyone laughed at me some more, and were almost to the point of not believing me.

When my Aunt Cheryl was leaving she gave me a hug and told me, “You really scared me. I’m glad you didn’t vote for him.”

Black Friday at Kohls:

For some reason my Mom thought it would be a great idea to go to Kohls for Black Friday. She wanted some pants and she wanted them cheap. She even had a $10 off coupon! I thought what a perfect time to become Romna!

When my mom saw what I was wearing she was upset. “WHY are you wearing that again?!” and I explained “It’s for my assignment!”

We picked up my Aunt Diane to experience the madness with us.

Before entering the madness.

Right as we entered the store my Aunt realized what I was wearing and said “Oh God, again?”

Nervous Aunt Diane.

Right after being told I should cover up my shirt

Today I felt a little more self conscious about the shirt. I knew there would be a lot of people. I felt a little daring though cause I wanted reactions. I was surprised at how easy it was for me to ignore people. Then it made me think about myself. I’m so used to getting looks, that my project was becoming hard for me to notice people. This made me uncomfortable because its natural for me to ignore people, I don’t particularly enjoy uncomfortable stares from people. I had to snap out of it though.

After making a conscious effort to notice people, I saw a man look at me, give a disgusted look and move his shoulder away from me like he couldn’t dare touch me. Geez..

Rudey McRuderson.

But whatever dude, I found an awesome sweatshirt!

I didn’t get any more notable reactions from people at Kohls. Everyone was preoccupied with their “great buys”.

Whole Foods:

Next stop, Whole Foods! before entering I thought to myself this place will surely have people that’ll be against Romney, hopefully enough to get a response. My sister. Aunt, and I began walking through the isles. No one even batted an eyelash at my shirt. The only person who cared was my Aunt. She told me, “Gosh, I feel funny walking with you.”.

Strolling around and enjoying free tea

I was looking around the toiletries section when I noticed a girl standing by a sample table smiling. So I smiled back. I didn’t think much of it until I was near her sample table and she asked if I’d like to try her protein shake. She excitedly explained,”it’s vegan, gluten free, raw, and sugar fee!”

Uh. YUM. I said, “Sure!”. and she happily began to pour me a little cup. She then whispered to me. “I really like your shirt.” I looked at her and said “Really?” , she said, “Yea! I think you’re so brave for wearing that here especially.” I smiled and said, “Thank you! So you’re a fellow Romney supporter?”, she resonded with another enthusiastic “Yea!” so I asked, “Would you take a picture with me?”, she said “Yes! I’d love that!” and thus this photo of me and my fellow Romnian.

My Alter’s new best friend

She then proceeded to give me almost 2 weeks worth of free samples of her vitamins. When I left I turned to her and said, “Go Romney!”, and she said “Yea!” and punched the air a little bit.

Me and my free Gluten free, Dairy free, Vegan, Raw vitamins! Score?!

So crazy how at a place where I thought I’d get the most negative responses from people, I got the most positive one.

When we left Whole Foods my Aunt said to me that I should be careful about my shirt because someone might pull out a gun and shoot me. My sister and I replied, nahh democrats are totally for gun control.

The most reactions were from my own family. I feel that they were more uncomfortable with my shirt than I was. I’ve been playing with my appearance for years without any reactions as harsh as what I received for wearing the  Romney shirt.

This project  made me think about the way I interact with people daily while in my normal costume. I’m used to getting looks from people, used to it so much that it was almost too easy for me to dismiss stares. Since I ignore stares and don’t particularly care about what people think, the project left me with a thought about whether or not I’d wear an Obama shirt in a red state. And I would absolutely wear one. It’s not so bad sticking out, especially if you’re being true to yourself. I feel that my Romney shirt didn’t create too much of a difference in treatment then say, wearing some kind of a provocative punk shirt.

Our society has this weird consensus of normality. I feel that If we truly dressed our bodies the way we wanted, there would be no need for this project because our strangeness would become the norm. Why must we be afraid to dress outside of the box?

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