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Before you buy a new T-shirt, here are 8 things to know.

They're totally comfortable, always fashionable ... and not super-sustainable.

Before you buy a new T-shirt, here are 8 things to know.
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It's one of the most famous — and ubiquitous — articles of clothing in modern history. So much so that you're probably wearing one right now.

It's the mighty T-shirt, and though it may seem simple and unassuming, there's quite the story in its humble threads. So, in honor of T-shirt weather, here are nine important things — good and bad — that you might want to know about this beloved article of clothing.

1. F. Scott Fitzgerald — you know, the author of "The Great Gatsby" — is credited with naming the T-shirt.


Sometimes the simplest product names are the best. Image via Ilan Sharif/Flickr.

Hold up a T-shirt, and it's easy to see the letter shape it forms. Fitzgerald thought so, too — he's credited with the first written appearance of the word "T-shirt." In his 1920 novel "This Side of Paradise," F. Scott Fitzgerald described a character's wardrobe as "provided with 'six suits summer underwear, six suits winter underwear, one sweater or T shirt, one jersey, one overcoat, winter, etc.'"

2. There's a Guinness World Record for the most T-shirts worn at once, because of course there is.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, yes, Joey, you could. GIF from "Friends."

When there are world records for the largest hockey stick (big ups to Duncan, B.C., Canada) and most eggs crushed with the head in 30 seconds, there absolutely has to be one for wearing the most T-shirts at the same time.

The holder of this very specific title as of this writing is Sri Lanka's Sanath Bandara, who wore 257 T-shirts at once to win it in 2011. Altogether, the shirts weighed more than 200(!) pounds.

3. 9 out of 10 Americans are probably wearing a T-shirt right now.

There's a matching T-shirt for every one of those hoodies. Image via iStock.

According to a 2013 survey by CustomInk, 95% of Americans wear T-shirts with 89% of them wearing one at least once a week.

4. James Dean and Marlon Brando looked so good in T-shirts that it basically defined their early careers — and started the T-shirt craze.

Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Image via Wikimedia Commons.

If you've seen the 1951 version of "A Streetcar Named Desire," there's probably one moment you remember most: Marlon Brando, standing in the rain in his ripped T-shirt, yelling for Stella. Ditto for "Rebel Without a Cause": James Dean, effortlessly cool, wearing a T-shirt and blue jeans lounging against a muscle car.

These visuals are iconic, and they helped make Brando and Dean into heartthrobs and superstars. Brando's T-shirt-wearing was particularly shocking because T-shirts were not meant to be worn on their own (they were called bachelor undershirts, meant to be worn under another shirt). But instead of hurting shirt sales, he boosted them big time.

5. Cotton — the most common ingredient in t-shirts — is a huge business.

Image by iStock.

In the United States alone, there are 35,000 cotton farms, employing about 170,000 people.

6. T-shirts take a lot of cotton to make. And even more water.

Making T-shirts is thirsty work. Image by iStock.

Most T-shirts are made completely or partly from cotton. America is the third-largest cotton producer in the world, harvesting almost 13 million bales, or 6.2 billion pounds, in 2015-16. For every acre of cotton harvested, fabric companies can make 1,200 T-shirts.

That's not a bad ratio — until you consider water use. It takes about 700 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for just one T-shirt. That's enough to fill an eight-person hot tub.

7. New shirts made from recycled cotton can make a big difference.

Image by iStock.

T-shirts made with recycled cotton look and feel identical to their non-recycled counterparts. There's one big difference: Their sale keeps tons of textile waste out of landfills every year.

8. Millions of T-shirts are donated at thrift shops every year. But even more end up in places like this.

Behold, the final eternal resting place of so many ironic T-shirts. Image by iStock.

Landfills are a depressing place for any object — let alone a favorite T-shirt that's a little past its prime. Many shirts will find their way to a new friend, but for those that don't, there's still a chance for a second life when you donate rather than throwing away ... just ask Macklemore.

Looks like Oscar's ready to pop some tags, too. GIF from "Sesame Street."

All in all, there's a lot more that goes into making and selling T-shirts than might meet the eye.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash
photo of woman on green grass field outdoors during daytime

When it comes to living with mental illness, the notion of gratitude may seem obscure. After all, depression hasn't always made me a good person, or parent. It has affected my friendships and relationships, making me a shitty daughter, mother and wife. It has negatively impacted my work. I've quit (and lost) jobs due to my poor mental health. And I withdraw from everyone — and thing — when I'm in the midst of a depressive episode. I turn off the lights and hide beneath the covers, shutting the door on those I care about and love. In short, depression sucks. Living with a long-term mental illness sucks. But it's not all bad. In spite of the hurt, loneliness, isolation, shame and pain, there are many upsides to living with mental illness, and I am thankful for depression — and my diagnosis. I am thankful for my mental health condition.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!