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It's Ridiculous We're Still Shaming Men For Wearing Skinny Jeans

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I remember just around a decade ago when an outrageous idea entered the North American mainstream: that men can and should dress well, and that caring about style and grooming didn't make you any less of a man.

That's not exactly how things unfolded, of course, but the nuts and bolts of the (problematically termed) "metrosexual" movement helped men in my generation see themselves outside the rigid construct of traditional masculinity, with fashion as their vehicle for self-expression.

The often joked-about symbol of this awakening was the introduction -- or, more accurately, resurgence -- of the skinny jean (for men!). The backlash was immediate and centred almost entirely on the narrow notion of what it means to be a "real" man.

For those of you who grew up in a later era (or, perhaps, haven't fully caught up with the rest of Canadian society since those heady days), let me remind you why critics urged guys to burn their tight denim and labelled men who wore the style as less-than: skinny jeans were feminine, and feminine -- for guys -- means "bad." Substitute any other vaguely feminine trend, from floral prints to makeup for men, and it's the same story.

But we've made so much progress since then, right?

Every argument that shames men for wearing too-feminine skinny jeans assumes that women aren't an important part of our society worth equal treatment.

The slim-and-tapered trend has since given way to more straight-leg styles, but unfortunately the conversation around skinny jeans and what they signify is just as relevant now as it was back then -- and for many of the same reasons that made it an issue in the first place.

I thought we had gotten over the issue of skinny jeans, too, until I caught some casually hurtful comments on a friend's Facebook fashion post which argued that Canada is actually worse off for men having been taught that skinny jeans are OK. Taking a cruise around the Internets outside my social media-enhanced bubble of inclusive fashion publications and style bloggers, I realized that this shit never really went away like I had thought -- it only took on different forms.

It all comes down to one thing: that despite having a gender-neutral cabinet, a female presidential candidate down south and women filling increasingly prominent and powerful positions in our society, some guys still can't fathom how so-called feminine qualities can be anything except a negative.

Like being nurturing will somehow make you less ambitious, like being a team player will somehow make you less competitive -- like pulling on a pair of form-flattering trousers somehow frays at the edges of whatever it is that makes you a man.

Men signifying a willingness to embrace their feminine side by wearing dresses, skirts or yoga pants -- let alone skinny jeans -- are criticized for swerving too hard (Jaden Smith's own words, but still) and apparently merit truly brave lines of questioning like can any dude pull off a skirt?

(Short answer: yes, but it helps if you have jacked calves.)



It should bear noting that men automatically face far less vitriol and venom than their female counterparts do for their fashion choices, but here's a little PSA for you:

Every argument that shames men for wearing too-feminine skinny jeans assumes that women aren't an important part of our society worth equal treatment, and that the qualities they embody are weaker, less important and ultimately trivial. It's that simple. It's that sexist.

It's ridiculous that the sight of a dude in tight jeans still elicits the same visceral, sexist and homophobic reactions it did ages ago.

After reading the above you may be wondering what exactly it is that I've added to the conversation. I'm with you on that. And that's what's so sad about it.

It's crazy that in 2016, the year of our lord, writers like me have to write the same old, tired think piece about skinny jeans, "real" men and femininity.

It's ridiculous that the sight of a dude in tight jeans still elicits the same visceral, sexist and homophobic reactions it did ages ago.

It's beyond me how a seemingly mundane detail like the size and shape of indigo-dyed fabric still has so much to say about the state of our society.

And it's truly troubling that some people still think feminine qualities ought to lie buried in the back of a wardrobe (especially if you're a male).

So, yeah, I guess you could say I'm a little sick of these think pieces about skinny jeans. But unless we all start acting like femininity matters in all parts of our society -- and put an end to outdated ideas of what being a "real" man is -- I guess I'll see you in 2026.

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