Now that we have officially entered the "hot as hell" portion of the year, it's time for a certain type of elitist East Coast male to begin his annual smear campaign targeted at the wearing of shorts by men. Who will be brave enough to stand up for the righteousness of the shorts-wearing man? We will.
Well, "we" is not quite the precise term— you may be shocked to learn that even Gawker editor John Cook, a supposed "man of the people," is a member of the anti-shorts brigade. Clad this very moment in long pants and a long-sleeved shirt despite temperatures exceeding 90 degrees outside, John strode into the office today spouting the sort of anti-shorts invective that one might expect from from a pants absolutist like Alex Balk. It was a shocking assault on the comity of the workplace team, and one that I felt should not be allowed to pass without comment.
The bizarre and mean-spirited arguments against the wearing of shorts by men typically boil down to this: It is allegedly "childish" or "unmanly" for men to wear shorts. Alex Balk, for example, has declared that shorts "are fine for little boys but comical and embarrassing on grown men." The reasons for this are left unsaid. As with many prejudices, the prejudice against the wearing of shorts rests on the flimsy assumption that people may be cowed into following it unquestioningly due to fear of becoming "the other."
Allow me to raise a voice on behalf of the silent majority. I grew up in Florida. In Florida, not wearing shorts during the summer is simply masochism. Everyone wears shorts, because it is fucking hot. Not wearing shorts during the Florida summer is nothing more than a declaration that you enjoy walking around with a serious case of sweat-soaked swampass for a large portion of the year. Wearing pants throughout a Florida summer is just as illogical as wearing shorts throughout a Boston winter. In very hot climates, shorts are a given. To refuse to wear shorts marks you as an eccentric, an outsider, or a fool.
Indeed, I never even encountered the idea that wearing shorts is somehow inappropriate for men until I moved up north, to New York City, where it is typical to hear narcissistic fashionistas making absolutist declarations of fictional "rules" based on glamour rather than function. The all-pants-all-the-time gang at first struck me as an amusing sort of daffy but harmless cult, to be chuckled at for their inexplicable religious rules. But as the years have gone on, I have seen this attitude spread throughout the mainstream media to the point that I feel it threatens to infect the minds of impressionable young adults who are just learning what it means to be an adult.
To these young men— the future of our country— I say: wear shorts. Wear shorts all you want. Especially when it is hot. That is why shorts were invented. Shorts have a proud tradition in this country, and throughout the world. Wherever it is hot, and the sun shines harshly, and sweat pours forth from human pores, men will wear shorts. Those of us who were raised in the portions of America with climates suitable for year-round human life know damn well that shorts are both appropriate and attractive. Men from Florida and Mississippi and Arizona and California and many other hot states have wooed plenty of women while we were wearing shorts. Plenty, I tell you. Never has been a problem for us. Maybe some of you Northern fellas could take a few lessons, eh?
Let's expose the anti-shorts contingent for what it is: a bunch of Northeastern dead-enders with incomplete wardrobes due to the fact that they spend the majority of the year living in frozen wastelands. They've spun their own lack of a viable shorts-wearing tradition into an unforgiving philosophy of trouser dominance, and foisted this regional prejudice upon the general public, while masquerading as the voices of fashion reason. They've so twisted the rational process of clothing decision-making that they assume it is reasonable to put on too many clothes when it is hot outside, and then crank the air conditioning all day to compensate for their excess pants material, thereby hastening the demise of our planet. Well, we won't take it any more. We, the American men, will wear shorts when it is hot. We will do the hard work of leg tanning. We will eschew socks if necessary. We will not agree to sweat profusely in a pitiful nod to fashion insecurity. We will wear shorts. It's just god damn common sense.
[Image by Jim Cooke]