November 24, 2017
Monday, May 19, 2014

Oh, the horror!

By Pablo Toledo
For the Herald

Men in short shorts

Who wears short shorts? This summer, men wear short shorts, according to a delightful fashion dispatch from the Wall Street Journal's David Coleman. "In the past few years, the low-water-mark length of a 15-inch-or-so inseam receded to knee-length (11 inches), then a knee-baring 9 inches, then to a quadriceps-exposing 7 inches and on to the newly fashionable thigh-flaunting 5 inches," Coleman reports. "If men's shorts were a glacier in Greenland, scientists would be freaking out."

Is this a fake trend story? God, I hope not. It's high time we banish the Kevin Federline manpri for good and usher in Bob Benson's cheeky abbreviated khaki. Jezebel's Dodai Stewart is with me. "Since the turn of the century — the late '90s, early aughts — we have been plagued by unsightly shorts. It's unclear who is to blame. Hip hop? Rave? Surfers? Skateboarders? It doesn't matter, really. The hideous trend slithered onto men nationwide, curling its tentacles around the legs of innocent dudes and sheathing them in the most terrible way. And it's held on for so long," she wrote. "Bring up that hemline!" she compelled the men of summer. "Show us your legs."

Not everyone is on board. "We love @Jezebel but this post is not only wrong, it's dangerous," Mother Jones magazine squealed. Another armchair hemline measurer was more to the point: "Men in short shorts, it's just wrong. Don't wear short shorts out... we don't need to see it."

If short shorts on men are dangerous, then I welcome a state of emergency. In a world where women's bodies are often dismissed as "dangerous" and "wrong" when exposed, girls are made to pass fingertip hemline tests to gain access to middle-school classrooms, and authority figures claim that these rules and regulations are put in place to protect girls from boys, pulling the short short onto the other leg implicitly dismantles these sexist structures.

And a man needn't reach Hollywood levels of fitness to contribute to the effort. To the contrary! All body types are welcome in this Campaign for Short-Shorted Men.

So bring on the Luke Dukes. But hold off on accepting the news that socks with sandals are suddenly fashionable — that story is totally bogus.

Adapted from a story by Amanda Hess, Slate.

Low water mark
The low water mark is a mark or line that shows the lowest point the water reaches at low tide. Here, it is used metaphorically to refer to the lowest point of trousers on a leg.

The inseam (US) or inside leg (UK) is the distance from the crotch (bottom of the genitals) to the ankle (or, in this case, wherever the bottom of the trousers is).

Capri pants go down to the middle of the calf, halfway between the knee and the ankles. Manpris (a portmanteau of “man” and “capri”) are capri pants worn by a man.

Centuries, decades
The turn of the century is the time around the beginning of a century (a few years before and after it starts). “Aughts” is the name given to the first decade of a century (“aught” is the UK English word for the number 0).

To slither
Slither is the verb that describes the way a snake or worm moves. By extension, it describes any suspicious, sneaky or dangerous approach. Now you know why the Slitherin house from the Harry Potter books got its name...

The hemline is the bottom edge of a dress, skirt or pair of trousers.

Luke Dukes
Remember the TV series Dukes of Hazard? The character Daisy Duke used to wear an iconic pair of shorts that received her name. The author here adapted the “Daisy Dukes” to a male name, and “Luke” sounds so similar “Duke” that he chose “Luke Dukes.” Clever, huh?

Something bogus is fake (it pretends to be real or genuine, but is not).

Same word, different word
“Short shorts” is quite a puzzling phrase, if you think about it... why are we repeating the same word? And is it really the same word anyway?

“Short shorts” are “a pair of shorts that is short”, so “short” is an adjective (“a short ...”) and “shorts” is a noun (at some point in language history, “short trousers” naturally transformed into “shorts”). Same spelling, different words!

In all languages, the same root (“short” in this case) can transform into different categories if you change the ending – e.g. communicate / communication / communicative. But sometimes in English you don't need to change anything at all! Google the phrase “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” for an extreme example of this.


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