Mar 20th, 2018, 10:41 PM

'No More Boyfriends': Beyond the T-Shirt

By Michelah Desnai
Image Credit: Facebook / JustMike
The story of how male poet JustMike became a voice for the misunderstood woman.

Fashion isn’t always about trends. Sometimes, Society forget it’s a type of art form, and just like all art forms, fashion shares a message. JustMike, a poet from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania found that out when he was trying to create publicity for his book “The Boyfriend Book.”

His book is a composition of poems that explores what it means to be loved. Finding innovative ways to publicize your book when you’re an independent writer requires some creativity. He thought to himself “what is better publicity than across someone’s chest?” So, he created this slogan called “No More Boyfriends,” but little did he know that he wasn’t just creating a slogan, but a movement.

“Dear Women,

Sometimes you’ll just be too much woman

Too Smart,

Too Beautiful,

Too Strong”

Image Credit: Facebook / JustMike

Michael E. Reid, who goes by his poetry name JustMike, started writing poetry after a low point in his life where he broke up with a woman he loved immensely, and he fell into a deep depression. While in that dark place, Mike tried to take his own life. While recovering from his suicide attempt, the nurse gave him a notebook where he began to write.

Michael grew up in a single family household where he had to fulfill the role of “half husband half son,” not an uncommon situation for many young black boys in America. Michael never felt upset about his situation, saying, “it felt good, it made my mother and my sister happy.” Growing up around women offered insight into a world where many men never dare to venture. Michael was able to understand where women felt inadequate, and the issues that plagued them. He incorporated this into his writing.

Image Credit: Facebook / JustMike

“You don’t need a smaller crown.

You need a man with bigger hands”

Growing up in a household with black women, Michael’s influence has specifically been the issues that black women struggle with. “I love black women, but I don’t specifically say that black women are my target market. I think it’s more because I’m black, my vernacular is black: that’s why I appeal to black people.” Though Michael admits that he doesn’t write specifically for black women, on his social media it has seemed that black women are the ones that have connected the most to his writings.

In episode 2 of Jay Z’s documentary 4:44 one of the participants says, “the relationship between black women and black men is complicated, and I think that stems from black males' historical inability to protect black women.” Michael believes “as a culture there is no greater gap than between black women and black men.” Many black women have seen Michael as the bridge that has been trying to complete that gap.

“You’re single because you know your worth and won’t take anything less than what you deserve.”

Michael’s unique way of writing has in many ways made him an advocate to men from women. “in our race it’s like men and women are at war with each other trying to get over on each other, I don’t think it’s like that in any other race.” His poems are more women loving and men criticizing than the other way around. This is evident in his poem that says, “The most dangerous place for a woman to be, is with a man that knows all her dreams, but does nothing to make them come true.”

Michael’s saviour status to women and love for them grew after he wrote a book called The Boyfriend Book, focusing on the allowing of women to establish their rights as lovers and participants in a relationship. When Michael decided to write his book, his grandmother, who is almost 100 years old, told him “boyfriends don’t exist.” Her words inspired Mike to create the slogan “No More Boyfriends.”

“The Worst Mistake you could ever make is getting lost in somebody that won’t come find you”

Though the shirt was initially supposed to be just publicity for the book, the t-shirts took on a life of their own. For many women, the shirt represents the notion that women should no longer date men that are not “husband material”, becoming a message a lot of different women could relate to. Mothers are buying for their daughters, women are buying it for themselves, and men even are buying it for their significant others.

The “No More Boyfriends,” shirts became so big that Ashton Kutcher posted about it on Twitter, which allowed for the shirt to spread throughout the celebrity world. “It got to Taraji [P. Henson], it got to Nikki Minaj, all in the course of like 24 hours.” The t-shirt has garnered many celebrity fans, but none have been as vocal as the actress Halle Berry, who has developed a relationship with Michael.

Image Credit: Facebook / JustMike

“I reached out… and Halle Berry answered, she was like ‘oh my god Mike’… and she reached out with this long letter and she basically said ‘thank you for being you’.” Berry took her appreciation for Michael and the shirts public when she made an appearance on Despierta America, where said, “There’s this poet that I adore and I follow. His name is JustMike, he writes about ‘no more boyfriends’ doesn’t mean no never a guys, it means only date guys that are husband material, but when you try to make a boyfriend a husband is when you have problems.”  She has even helped with publicity by doing a photoshoot in the shirt, which on her Instagram, has over 96,000 likes.

“I pray that you never have to choose between loving and growing”

Mike doesn’t want to to be labeled as the “Mr. Nomoreboyfriends,” but he feels that the shirt is so powerful because he feels “nothing good comes from it, if it was supposed to be good, something good would have come from it. I’ve seen what boyfriends have done to women on a personal level and it’s just not good.” Michael hopes to keep pushing that message because he really believes in it, but he is a writer first. The success of the shirt has not made him a fashion designer, but it has allowed him to see how powerful what words people wear can be.

“If I have hot lines, imma put it on a shirt,” but there is no immediate plans for a fashion lines from JustMike.

The issues that women face everyday are not easy, but the issues become increased when men don’t understand them. JustMike has created a movement with clothing and words that has shown women that they can define the circumstances of their life. With three words a man has been able to give women a freedom that they never knew they lost.