By KATE SPIES
Some kids were sent to their room. Others were banned from TV. And the really hard core parents grounded their kids when they did something naughty. This isn’t how it rolled in my household. I was disciplined in a much more public, much more mortifying way…with punishment t-shirts. Yep.
My dad was the master of creative (read: cruel, cruel, cruel) reprimands, and tees sat right at the top of his list. (Along with dunking me fully-clothed into water from the side of a boat, and making me pick every weed from between the bricks in our backyard.)
So it was with great sympathy that I read the terrible plight of Janiya Jones.
Two weeks ago, Janiya’s Jones’ Facebook account showed her as a statuesque, beautiful teenager with a boyfriend. In reality, she is a 10-year-old girl in year five who just happens to be 5’9.
Her dad found out about Janiya 2.0 and, well, his reaction was a step further than giving her the standard ‘there’s no rush to grow up’ chat…he made her a shaming t-shirt.
And Kevin Jones, Janiya’s dad, has helpfully detailed the whole thing on Facebook for the world to see:
Since my beautiful daughter Janiya wants to be grown & lie about her age. Saying she is 14,15,16,&18 years old. She claims to be in love and going out with a boyfriend which is completely against my rules!!!! I uncovered that she has been doing this for quite some time. She also has snuck and obtained social media accounts, also against my rules!!!! Heres the consequences behind her actions. An age defining shirt. Yes people she is 5’9 & 10 years old. #BuddiesBarrettesBallBalls
Harsh? Maybe. Effective? You bet. His attempt at social media embarrassment has paid off, with his original post already at 250,000 likes and almost 80,000 shares.
Does he know my dad? Have they formed some sort of gang where they sit around telling dad jokes and concocting ways to mortify their teenage daughters?!
My dad eased his way into t-shirt shaming when I was seven years old. I had robbed a bank or something – I can’t quite remember – and he decided that instead of sending me to my room, where I just read Harry Potter and had a grand old time, he would mix it up.
He dug out one of his favourite ALP t-shirts (he was a member of the local branch) and decided that I would wear it to school the next day as punishment for my bank robbery (or maybe it was because I refused to unpack the dishwasher, same same). It was mufti-day at school the next day (or maybe you called it ‘casual clothes’ day?) and while everyone else was wearing awesome Bad Girl skirts and tops from The Surf Shop, I rocked my dad’s ultra-oversized tee.
The other kids teased me. My brother disowned me. Teachers smirked. And I was convinced Adam Ley would dump me as his date to next month’s dance. Life over.
I sulked around school all day feeling like a sartorial pariah, just as my dad had hoped. Lesson learnt. I never robbed a bank/refused to unstack the dishwasher ever again.
Fast forward six years. I was 13 and all I wanted to do was spend my life sunbaking. Being very blonde haired, blue eyed, obvs sitting for three hours in direct sunlight, covered in, ahem, olive oil (don’t judge, it was the ‘90s), was not ideal. If Mum and Dad had their way, I would still be wearing cover-all rash shirts all day, every day, but I was a cunning sun baker. I would wait until they went out, whip on my bikini, lather up and get my bake on.
I got away with it for a while. I felt very proud of myself. I was smarter than my parents, #suckers.
Then, one fateful day, I thought dad had left with mum for the shops, but he was just waiting, hiding in his bedroom, ready to catch me. He spotted me glistening in the midday sun. Shit, lost. He yelled and yelled. Then I yelled. Then he got sick of yelling and went eerily quiet. I knew what was coming…
The next morning dad presented me with a DIY slogan shirt that I was instructed (forced) to wear to a big family lunch, in public. It read: “When I get melanoma from sunbaking, I will not blame my dad.”
I was paraded down the local esplanade with this big black slogan written on the front AND the back of my glaringly white t-shirt. It was the best day of dad’s life, he could hardly cope with his parenting brilliance. I wanted to be sucked into a sink hole where sunshine and olive oil didn’t exist.
Again, lesson learnt. I was never stupid enough get caught sunbaking again, I would go to my friends’ backyards and do it there. BYO olive oil. #sucker
Dad and I have a big old laugh about his tee shaming now because it’s just a funny (albeit embarrassing) memory for us, not something that has been captured on social media and saved on the internet for all eternity. Janiya’s not so lucky. I wonder if she and Kevin will look back one day and LOL, too.
Click through the gallery below for all the photos of Janiya’s punishment.
What is the worst punishment you’ve ever received? Do you think the t-shirt punishment is too harsh?