People Are Upset With Wrestler/Dentist Britt Baker's Black Eye T-shirt
Plenty of sports T-shirts capitalize on what we have been calling "micro-moments," aka little reference points that can be immortalized on merchandise and long outlive their normal conversation lifespans.
Things like soundbites during interviews, particularly wacky or successful plays, or even injuries can be used for promotional merchandise. They're often fun and well-received, but sometimes merchandisers need to be careful about the product's perception.
AEW wrestler Dr. Britt Baker (for real, she's a licensed and practicing dentist) ended up with a black eye during an April 21 event, which she later posted on Instagram as a way to be like, "Hey, look how tough I am! Isn't wrestling fun?"
AEW agreed with the moment's wide appeal, and started selling T-shirts with Baker's — ahem, Dr. Baker's — photo.
— ShopAEW.com (@ShopAEW) April 30, 2023
Some fans, however, felt that a T-shirt depicting a woman with a black eye could be perceived as glorifying domestic violence.
"This shirt in eyes of the public is going cause more harm then [sic] good," one person wrote on Twitter. "Alot [sic] of people that don't even know what AEW stands for. An [sic] some dude wearing it in a bar proudly smh. Alot [sic] of black eyes."
Dr. Baker shot back on social media, explaining that it was actually a jab at her opponents, who previously made T-shirts showing a bloodied Dr. Baker as a way to maybe psyche her out.
Supports domestic violence how?I got a black eye in a RING? My enemies put a pic on a shirt to troll me and I outsmarted them.🤑
Does that mean all the (top selling) bloody T-shirts are supporting murder?
If a male wrestler had a shirt with a black eye would you be this pissed? https://t.co/QD9ghSdgQc pic.twitter.com/I05DP2T8SS
— Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. (@RealBrittBaker) April 29, 2023
Dr. Baker explained her viewpoint even further during an interview with Sports Illustrated, where she said the controversy confused her.
"When I posted the picture of my black eye on social media, it got almost 100,000 likes [and comments saying] that I’m tough and I’m a badass and, ‘Wow, this girl, she’s strong.’" she said. "It was empowering. But then when it went on a shirt, it was really problematic, and that was so confusing to me. Because why? If I’m on a shirt with a black eye, why does that make me weak? Why does that make me a victim? But if a man, or Chris Jericho, had a black eye, they’d be tough and they’d be a badass."
If the T-shirt wasn't already a conversation piece, it sure is now. And fans who want to stand behind Dr. Baker will want to get the T-shirt even more.
It is still, however, a lesson in merchandising, that you need to look at a design from every possible angle to see if there's something that some people might find distasteful or offensive.
Dr. Baker, however, isn't too worried about this one.
"I’ve actually been telling the makeup artist, ‘Don’t cover up my black eye,'" she told SI. "Because I think it’s empowering, because I’m tough. You should see the other girl.”