Tag Archives: men’s bodies

The Big and Tall Blues

While I am pleased to see that “curvy” (plus-size) women are being featured in clothing and retailer ads on TV, and encouraged to accept – nay, celebrate – their figures, I have noticed a certain lack.

Where are all the plus-size men?

Well, we all know the answer to that. They’re on TV commercials as the butt of every joke, the loser in every office, the fall guy in every set-up. Or they’re dancing in a manner destined to spark derision. (Never mind that Drew Carey proved on the intro to his sitcom that hefty guys can bust a move.)

But in clothing commercials or ads for retailers that carry clothing? Nary a big guy to be found.

It should be noted that this merely reflects the reality of shopping. If a store has a “big and tall” section, it usually caters to tall and defines “big” as topping out at 3X (and those are always sold out, which should tell retailers something).

Then there are the b-and-t shops, which charge a hefty (sorry) premium for larger sizes. C’mon, it’s not like a few extra inches of fabric costs that much. If shoe manufacturers can afford the extra leather, canvas, or whatever for wide sizes, why do larger Dockers cost $50-75? (And that’s the last time I shopped. It could be even higher now.)

And while we’re on the subject, think of the difficulty I had finding a stock photo to illustrate this post. What I got when I searched were images of Santa; rednecks with shotguns; and men eating giant, dripping burgers or pizza. (Most of them had beards, too, which apparently are correlated with weight in someone’s mind.)

But let’s get back to real life. The plus-size men I know don’t even have a clue where they can find underwear that fits. They go from Target to Penney’s to Sears, only to find a dearth of options. It’s like large men are being urged to go commando. And if they do find undies that fit, they invariably are plain white. (Though this is a flaw in women’s undergarments as well. What, do you run out of flowers and stripes at size 10?)

What does this leave? Internet shopping, of course. And the price and selection problems persist there as well. At least women have sites like eShakti where we can have fashionable styles tailored to our dimensions, at only a nominally higher cost, and can find ready-made plus sizes in flattering and diverse designs (and by flattering, I don’t mean just vertical stripes).

Wait. Where was I? Oh, yes. Plus-size men’s clothing. The men’s rights movement has appeared not to have noticed the lack of clothing choices and the insulting ads, being more vigilant about custody decisions and uppity feminists, but they perhaps ought to take a lesson from the women who are working for body-positive fashion choices.

Until large men (let’s be clear here – fat boys https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkTJTAS7ePE) get aware and vocal about their limited choices, unequal representation, and demeaning depictions, they will have to live with the choices that the fashion and retailing industries give them. And that’s a meager diet.

I have known, and admired, and lusted after large men. I just wish they had something decent to wear.

What Belongs on a Man’s Chest? (If Anything)

No, settle down. I’m not going to address the question of why men have nipples. Just Google it if you really want to know.(1)

My topic for this week is male body hair, which, being a secondary sex characteristic for men, ought to be a popular thing. In fact, a healthy crop of chest hair used to be considered one of the most attractive manly attributes.

Now we see male chests unadorned (except for the aforementioned nipples). If it is adorned, it is generally with oil.

Think back, if you can, to the ancient days of yore when Burt Reynolds caused a stir by appearing naked on a bearskin (ahem) rug in the pages of Playgirl. He sported an abundance of chest hair, dark and luxuriant, flaunted for all the world to see. Besides, it went nicely with all the rest of his body hair, which you could see most of.
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Think Tom Selleck as Magnum, P.I. Now there was some chest fur to fantasize about running your fingers through.
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Even Elton John fer-gosh-sakes was willing to show off a chestful of abundant curls back in the day.

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Of course, those were the days when it was fashionable to wear one’s shirts open practically to the waist, so that one could show off a silver coke spoon, but hide it in the follicular thicket when the cops rolled by.

Personally, I blame Tom Cruise.

From the first time his blank chest appeared on the big screen, useless nipples accentuated by pale skin and lack of other adornment, hairless chests were in.(2)

Enter the grooming industry. They had already made an investment – and a pile of money – by convincing women that body hair was disgusting and needed to be eliminated. That led to underarm shaving, mustache waxing, shaved legs, bikini zone waxes, and those weird red lights that will kill the hair off your arms or anywhere else.(3)

Now they’ve started in on men. They’ve done the best they can with men’s hair and mustache coloring, manly scented soaps, assorted shaving products – and suddenly the “manscaping” has started. Mostly it’s confined to the male chest, but there is also, I understand, what’s known as the “full Brazilian.” This is the male equivalent of women shaving their pubes into fancy shapes or dispensing with them entirely.(4) Men don’t get to do the cute shapes.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. What’s so bad about a rugged, hairy chest, anyway? You’d think men would be proud to show off their testosterone that way. Apparently not. It’s not “civilized.”(5)

But you don’t have to be Grizzly Adams to show off your chest hair. Some errant curls peeking coyly above the top button of a shirt can make a gal long to start undoing the rest of them. Only those with a measly two or three weedy strands need to worry.(6)

On the other side, hairy backs, we are given to understand, are a different matter entirely – gross, disgusting, and laughable. Yet we only hear of men waxing their chests – never their dorsal regions. Why is that? Because movie stars are reluctant to turn their backs to the camera? Women see real men’s backs all the time. They go to bed with such hirsute men. They even like to snuggle up to them and at such times a layer of thick, warm fur can be a pleasure. Especially on a chill winter’s night.

As for me, I snuggle up at night to a man so fuzzy that he is known as “Dan, the Human Loofah,” the second-hairiest man I’ve ever seen.(7) Do you think he cares if I shave my legs and underarms? Do you think he notices?

Between the two of us, we may just drive the grooming industry to despair, if not bankruptcy. I imagine they’ll manage to console themselves with all the Tom Cruise wannabes.

(1) It’s not all that interesting. All developing fetuses start out as female. Some of them later become male, but by that point the nipples are already there.
(2) Noah Michelson, writing in the Huffington Post, remarked, “Even the werewolves on ‘Teen Wolf’ are hairless.” Werewolves with no chest hair? Dafuq?
(3) I don’t know why overarm hair has suddenly become a problem, but I’m sure one of the fashion magazines will tell me.
(4) The wily grooming industry, along with the porn people, sell women the desire to look younger, prepubescent even. And don’t tell me there is no link between that and pedophilia. Making grown, sexually available women resemble girls who have not yet endured puberty cannot be a healthy thing. I don’t think the trend toward waxed male chests and crotchal areas has anything to do with looking pre-pubescent. I could be wrong, but I don’t want to think about it if I am.
(5) Writing for Bustle, Erin McKelle Fischer references the film The 40-Year-Old Virgin and calls the memorable chest-waxing scene “the taming of the beast before our eyes and his implied transformation from wild man into gentleman.”
(6) Those men should be the clients for waxers. But their waxing sessions wouldn’t take long or generate much revenue.
(7) The first-hairiest was a co-worker who came to the office Halloween party dressed as Fred Flintstone. Didn’t get a picture. Sorry.