Progressively-minded Krista Northrup of Madison, Tennessee, who likes to bring her activist spirit to her attire, slowly came to realize that the revolutionary messages she was sporting on her T-shirts were generally going over the heads of her fellow town residents.
"At first I thought they were really open-minded, or more progressive than I'd given them credit for," said Krista, who moved from New York City to Madison, a small town just outside Nashville, a little over two years ago. "Then I realized the reason they weren't getting offended was that they weren't getting it at all."
A prime example was the day Krista wore a T-shirt with a photo of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, with a message reading "Patriot."
"This redneck-looking guy came up to me in the grocery store and told me he loved my shirt," said Krista. "I was shocked. And then he told me he'd been to Boston and was a huge Patriots fan. He thought the photo was Tom Brady."
Another reality-check for Krista was when, at a community gardening event, someone complimented her animal rights shirt featuring an image of a cow with a message reading, "ALL lives matter."
"A woman ran over and hugged me and said yes, they matter so much," said Krista. "I was so excited to meet a fellow vegan, until she went on to say that she totally agreed the Black Lives Matter movement was ridiculous."
Not all of Krista's message-bearing garments, however, have met with this such whole-hearted approval, even if misplaced. When Krista went to a neighborhood Fourth of July picnic wearing a T-shirt featuring a peace symbol superimposed onto an American flag, the dirty looks made it clear that she'd ruffled some feathers - and one woman told her so to her face.
"She came up and asked me how could I, on today of all days," said Krista. "That's when I realized what I was dealing with."
Nevertheless, despite the as-yet-unbridged communication gap, Krista holds out hope that her T-shirt activism will, over time, yield some beneficial effects.
"Even if they can't read, maybe the message will seep in subconsciously," said Krista. "Oops, did I say that? Sorry, that was mean."