Did you know that it is hip to sport a beer gut? Perhaps in a little too desperate of an effort to seek out this week’s latest trend (but perhaps not as desperate as they were when they said that shaved eyebrows were the Latest Thing), NYT’s Thursday Styles has proclaimed this summer the summer of the paunch. All the hipsters in Brooklyn are doing it! Well, not really, but, eh, it’s August and everyone is on vacation anyway so, why not?
Just in case you are a lass and were about to saunter out the house wearing your most FUPA-magnifying jeans with pride, you should know that this trend is only for dudes. Yep, standards of beauty are relaxing (allegedly) for men but not for women because a woman with, like, fat? Gross. It isn’t that the belly trend article’s author, Guy Trebay, isn’t aware of this double standard (and as Salon Broadsheet noted, the Style section chastised women last week for–of all things–neglecting to moisturize their feet) and he in fact notes that it is a male privilege to be able to “lead with a belly.” This latest man-slob “trend” is seen by one men’s magazine editor as a rebelling against “traditional male roles” where men were expected to be super fit. Was this ever a trend outside of gay circles? And even within gay culture hasn’t the buff, hairless man candy staple kind of gone by the wayside in recent years? Regardless, being a metrosexual was never a “traditional male role,” and even if it was, it was never a hipster trend. Ever. If anything, the hipster trend for years has been tall and lanky with no hint of toned muscle lest you be laughed out of the latest hip faux-divey bar in Williamsburg for looking like you care about something. The only men I know with borderline anorexia have all been hipsters, or they at least have lived in one of those hipest hipstery ‘nabe articles that are always being put out. That said, I have definitely known a few PBR-drinking, American Apparel-sporting young men who proudly sport a beer belly, but I don’t know if it was a carefully cultivated layer of tummy fat that they were doing to be “ironic” or even “trendy.” Some people are just naturally rounder! (And I’m not going to even get started on the other men’s magazine editor who said it was hipsters rebelling against Obama’s toned figure.)
So, a few dozen men in some hipster enclave in Brooklyn put on a few lbs and they get a trend article in the New York Times. Not that the writer actually goes up and talks to these men about their bellies for the article, which leads one to believe that the writer thinks it would be offensive for these paunched men to be asked about their visible fat and thus cancels out the whole men-are-just-getting-comfortable-with-their-bodies reasoning behind this hot new trend. If it was a real trend, wouldn’t the men be OK with being asked about their flab?
Could you even imagine if this article was written about women? Actually, I can’t really imagine it because I don’t think that trend article would exist, or, if it did, it would focus on some rural area where the urban writer would muse about how quaint their little fat trend is. Or, it would have the words “obesity,” “healthy weight” or “epidemic” and at least two interviews with medical professionals of bemoan the fact that gaining weight can lead to serious health risks. Men are given the privilege of not only having a round belly without sacrificing their attractiveness but of also not having their slight weight gain be associated with anything negative. Instead, they get a trend article with quotes from a corral of men’s magazine editors, as if this fake trend was like the resurgence of the Italian cuffed trouser. What is interesting about this article isn’t that it is a complete non-trend but that there are a lot of things that aren’t being said about women and their bodies.