I don't read the Sunday newspaper—I scour it. I scour it like those guys in hazmat suits who neutralize EPA superfund sites.
That's how I end up reading about condo associations and grilled pork served with mint leaves and fig compote and South American political scandals from the 1940s. It's also how I end up reading a woman's complaints about how men dress at the gym.
The aggrieved party wrote a columnist because she is disturbed by the sight of men in tight-fitting clothing at the gym. Shorts in particular. Even worse, the sommelier who heads this whine cellar goes on to empathize with the complainant.
Sigh. Eye rolls, anyone?
I've heard this argument before. And if I hear another woman complain about guys in Speedos (or clingy gym attire) I'm going to burst. And here's why:
Everyday I see size 18 women waddling around in size 5 clothes. I see cellulite jiggling underneath tissue-thin yoga pants. Guts hanging out from midriff tops. XL rear ends not quite contained by XS string bikinis.
And that's just the beginning.
But that's not indecent exposure. Nope. That's empowerment. Women being strong. Liberated. Casting off the shackles of male expectations of beauty.
If you say so.
I call it U-G-L-Y. And I really, really don't want to see it.
But saying so makes me a seething, hateful misogynist. Which only fuels my argument that there's a raging double-standard at work here.
We live in an age of unfettered ego. “What do you mean I don't look like Kerry Washington? I rock these, baby!” “You can actually tell the difference between Vin Diesel and me? I'm gonna run you over, you punk-ass bitch!”
All of us have the bodies of Greek gods and goddesses. Check.
And speaking of unfettered egos, I should add that I wish more people were just like me.
You see, not so long ago, I stood 6' 3” and weighed 190 pounds. I had a thirty-four inch waist. I played basketball without a shirt, and did my power walking in shorts that did not conform to the prevailing skater/hip hop/just-released-felon aesthetic.
I.E., they did not hang down to my shins.
But then I gained thirty pounds.
As a result, I don't walk around the house, much less public spaces, without a shirt. You feel me? I am embarrassed. I am not proud. I am—as we like to spout on social media—humbled.
Yes, the old self-esteem has taken a hit. But even after cataract surgery, I fail to see how going out in a too-tight t-shirt is going to empower me.
Granted, I am not a woman. But even within the relaxed appearance standards women typically hold men to, I am fat. I am a middle-aged, pear-shaped, dad-bodied cliché. It's not self-loathing. It's not culturally-induced shaming. It's just a realistic look in the mirror.
I don't like it, and I doubt you would, either. So, in a gesture of magnanimity to my fellow man, I cover it up.
And it doesn't make you or me a hater or sexist to wish that all the ball-sack baring, stretch-mark sharing men and women around us would do the same.
Two sexes, one standard.
We can do this.