Why do women and men remove shirts differently?




This has always fascinated me. When men remove a t shirt, they grab it by the back of the neck and pull it forward over their heads, leaving the shirt the right way out. But when women remove a t shirt they cross their arms, grab the hem and pull it backwards over their heads, leaving the shirt inside out. I have always wondered why.

  • do we learn this when we are little and just carry on doing it? Social conditioning in other words.
  • are women’s t shirts too tight and fitted to just pull over their head by the back of the collar?
  • do boobs get in the way? But then what happens if a man has huge moobs?
  • do men just not mind stretching their shirts and women are more particular?
  • do women not want to muss their hair? What about men that like their hair being in place?
  • is it because men want their t shirt to remain the right way out so they don’t have to fix it afterwards?

And when you put them back on is it that women put their arms in the sleeves first and then pull it over their head and men put it over their head first and then put their arms in the sleeves?

When it comes to shirts I do know that women and men have the buttons on different sizes of the placket because we are mostly right handed and men used to dress themselves while women had dressers – buttons used to be for the upper classes. But the t- shirt thing still fascinates me.

So, what do you do? I am a cross-arms-backwards-over-head undresser.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

6 thoughts

  1. Bit of an odd idea here, but do you think it could be hair length? Men with traditional short hair could use the over-the-back-of-the-head method without grabbing and painfully yanking a handful of hair.
    In order to test this hypothesis I volunteer to watch a group of long-haired men take their shirts off.

    No need to thank me.

  2. The back-over-your-head method stretches the neckline of the shirt. I don’t want that, because it looks ugly over boobs/decollete if the neckline is stretched. Men don’t have that problem..

  3. My first thought has to do with dresses and how women have to don and doff different types of dresses.

    Another reason may have to do with the evolution of knit undergarments and who and how they were adopted first and where, which brings me to the military concept…

    The military thing, more the idea of military efficiency (a shirt taken off in the “male” way wouldn’t have to be turned again, wasting time/energy in keeping a bunk tidy) seems a more logical extrapolation than would POW/shame issues.

  4. Perhaps there’s some light on this from WWII findings concerning POWs. They discovered when a male POW was given an order to remove his clothing or have them removed by force, the males usually voluntarily stripped – considering the forced removal of clothes to be the more humiliating. For female POWs, it was the precise reverse, They usually refused to strip and so had captors forcibly remove them, considering the voluntary strip to be more humiliating.

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