In response to viral video footage of her drunken temper tantrum outside Tiger Town Tavern, Clemson junior Marney Winkler agreed to an interview to shed some light on her current condition.
“I want to share my story to raise awareness for the growing issue of free t-shirt addiction,” Winkler said, it’s a seriously a literally underrepresented problem that’s spreading rapidly throughout the Clemson community.”
According to onlookers, Winkler was upset by the bar’s refusal to give her a free t-shirt, even though her twenty-first birthday had been that Sunday. Inebriated and enraged, Winkler ripped off her shirt in protest and ran into the street, waving it over her head. Onlookers barely had time to register that she was nude underneath the oversized men’s shirt before she sprinted down College Avenue to ransack Tiger Town Graphics.
For Winkler, this was simply the latest episode in a downward spiral that has plagued her since her freshman year at Clemson University.
“I got one t-shirt and it was like, oh, this is pretty cool,” Winkler said, “but before I knew it I was addicted. I was doing anything to get shirts—if I didn’t get at least three new t-shirts every week, I would go crazy, planning, scheming, scavenging for shirts in the trash…”
Following the onset of the dreaded freshman fifteen, Winkler’s old high school clothes ceased to fit, but she saw no need to buy new clothes, instead coming to depend more and more on her growing stash of free shirts.
“Her closet was stuffed,” Anna Haynes, Winkler’s roommate of two years, recalls, “her dresser was overflowing. She had to use all the drawers in her desk and I would still find her shirts in my dresser all the time! I don’t even think she used a towel in the shower, just a bunch of t-shirts tied together.”
Things reached an all-time low when Winkler and Haynes moved into an off-campus apartment together earlier this year. Unbound from the strict regulations and tiny floor plans of the on-campus dorms, Winkler’s t-shirt obsession grew to new heights.
Winkler no longer did any laundry, instead wearing dirty t-shirts as punishment for not filling her self-imposed free t-shirt quota.
“I went into her room one time and there was nothing but t-shirts,” Haynes recalled, “she slept in a nest of them—she had piles of them forming a little desk, some of the bigger ones turned into sacks to store the smaller ones.”
Winkler explained that Pinterest was the greatest fuel to her addiction, constantly giving her new ideas for what to do with her t-shirts. But as Winkler’s existence shrunk to skimming Pinterest for trendy new t-shirt DIY projects and queuing outside of events promising free t-shirts for hours, she began to hate the person she had become.
“I mean, I even went to the Dwarf Fortress Gaming Club,” Winkler said, clearly horrified, “just because they had t-shirts. I hung out with fat, sweaty, nerdy guys eating pizza for three hours. I was kicked out of formals all the time because I couldn’t understand why a big t-shirt didn’t count as a dress. My life was t-shirts.”
Although some might see the naked footage of Winkler scattered across social media as a setback to her psychological recovery, Winkler says that it is just the inspiration she needs to change her ways.
“I’m giving this interview because I don’t want to be that person anymore,” Winkler said, “I’m making serious changes now, steps towards having a happier, more productive life. Of course, I still wear my free t-shirts, but I usually wear Norts underneath them now, and next month, I plan to try wearing yoga pants as well. It will be a difficult journey, but I believe in myself.”
Winkler reports that she will be starting her own club where others can share their stories. Each meeting promises free tank tops to help those affected break the cycle of addiction.