Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer love handles . . . a plea to all
the men out there who like to go shirtless

Ah, summer . . . t-shirts, cut-offs, flip-flops . . . the smell of a neighbor's fire pit, the sound of a distant lawn mower. . . I'm really enjoying all of the signs of summer even though the season doesn't officially begin for about three more weeks.

But one thing I'm not enjoying now that the days are "hot as balls" as my friend Kristin said yesterday is that the heat brings with it another summer tradition, an unwelcome one:

men without their shirts on.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love it when we come across a buff runner sans shirt on the walking trail, but I would happily give up that rare occurrence if I never again had to see his polar opposite: the all-too-common out-of-shape guy strutting around the frisbee golf course without a shirt—or the tennis court or the golf course or the basketball court or fill in the blank.

I'm all about body acceptance, but taking your shirt off in public isn't about body acceptance if you ask me. It's about exhibitionism. And maybe self-centeredness too. Because the message is, Look at me! I don't have my shirt on!

And then I look and think, Why the hell did I do that?

In some ways, it feels like a violation of my privacy. My eyes shouldn't have to be exposed to man breasts and love handles and pale stomachs with dark hairs crawling across them like spiders.

It also feels a bit selfish since women can't do the same.

The message is: I'm hot, so I'm going to strip down, but you women just have to deal. Kind of like when your older brother got to stay out later than you and spent his whole day flaunting the fact that his curfew was one instead of midnight. I don't like the selfishness implicit in that message.

Who knows? Maybe I'm just jealous, but it bugs me when a guy goes shirt-less in a public venue. I can't take my shirt off, so why should he?

It's different on the beach, a place where there is an unspoken agreement that everyone can let their shit hang out—men, women, and children. You can't complain about it because you're doing it too. And if for some reason you're not, you know that stepping onto the sand means you've got to expect to see something unpleasant.

But in the park, it just seems wrong since it's only the male sex that can reveal—at least legally—a part of the body that doesn't normally see the sun.

So until women are allowed to take their shirts off in public, can you men out there please—pretty please—just keep your sweaty shirts on?

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