August 13, 2009

"Or is the Ralph Kramden Barack Obama’s fault?"

Guy Trebay has a question... about potbellies.
Hipsters, by nature contrarian, according to Dan Peres, the editor of Details, may be reacting in opposition to a president who is not only, as the press relentlessly reminds us, So Darn Smart, but also hits the gym every morning, has a conspicuously flat belly and, when not rescuing the economy or sparring with Kim Jong-il, shoots hoops.

“If we had a slob in the White House, all the hipsters would turn into some walking Chippendales calendar,” Mr. Peres said. Instead, the streets of Williamsburg are crowded with men who are, as he noted, “proudly rocking a gut.”...

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine,” is how Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, explains the emergence of the Ralph Kramden. What once seemed young and hot, for gay and straight men alike, now seems passé. Like manscaping, spray-on tans and other metrosexual affectations, having a belly one can bounce quarters off suggests that you may have too much time on your hands.
Why does there need to be any special reason for a man to have a potbelly? It's the natural tendency. You only need a reason not to have a potbelly, and it needs to be good enough to offset the natural tendency. The fact is, it is more important for a man to fight the natural rounding of the belly than it is for a woman, because a round belly is feminizing. It speaks of fertility and pregnancy. The "pregnant man" has never been a good look.


And quit wearing shorts!



Triangle Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diamondhead said...

This is the story you write when you're on a deadline and have no ideas. Just walk around town for a bit then quote your personal trainer.

traditionalguy said...

If men must look right and act right to get any female approval, then you women need to start thawing us out earlier in life.

Darcy said...

Huh. Proudly rockin' the guts. Fantastic! I love that. I really do.

ricpic said...

A young man proudly rocking a gut is a sad sight to see;
An old man sadly rocking a gut is an inevitability.

detickcl: a trad guy post after a Bissage post.

Smilin' Jack said...

“I sort of think the six-pack abs obsession got so prissy it stopped being masculine,” is how Aaron Hicklin, the editor of Out, explains the emergence of the Ralph Kramden.

And, gosh, who would be a better judge of masculinity than the editor of Out?

XWL said...

"The "pregnant man" has never been a good look"

Are you saying this guy doesn't look great?

Laura(southernxyl) said...

“proudly rocking a gut.”...

This is an image I didn't need.

...What's wrong with the shorts? I think he looks all right. His underwear (if any) is covered and the crotch of the shorts is not between his knees, so he looks more than all right. How my standards have degraded.

The Crack Emcee said...

Women are so obsessed with avoiding aging they miss the whole point of maturity. Men, joining them in their obsessions, is even worse. This writer's comments are further proof the whole thing was a mental disorder - one, hopefully, the culture is finally getting some relief from.

Skinny people (who aren't naturally that way) look like they're preparing to die, and, according to the latest studies, they will sooner.

tim maguire said...

I like my Buddha belly when I'm in good overall shape. During those times when I'm not in good shape, like today, it's just fat.

Ron said...

Oh, quit being such a priss about the shorts already! Nothing particularly feminine about being a Boston Fishwife!

Ron said...

In the tradition of the Silver Surfer, I wield the Gut Cosmic!

The Crack Emcee said...


Where I come from, the long hair, shorts, and slipper-type sandals (or any sandals really) say the guy's been feminized and can't run well, making him an "easy mark". And the full backpack says he's worth the effort.



WV: Allymess - what this guy would be when we got through with him.

Paddy O said...

Totally not Obama's fault. And this isn't at all new.

Look at television sitcoms for the last ten years or more.

The Ralph Kramden marriage--fat guy, thin wife--has been a pretty common theme for a while.

Steven Keaton was thin, and Theodore Huxtable was fit for his age, so the 80s seem to be the era of equal fitness. There was Dan on Roseanne, but he had Roseanne, so it was equality. Then Tim Taylor got a bit pudgy while Jill seemed to stay trim. Then things seemed to get out of control from there. Yeah, we still had the Ray Romano's showing up on occasion, but for every Ray there was a Kevin James.

Television gives the fitness role models for the country, so while all the women need to keep up with Courtney Thorne-Smith, the guys have Jim Belushi. Guys only will work as hard as is necessary, and if all the fit women are fine with the flab, the guys are more than happy to oblige.

JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe said...

Do you have a post that explains your overall shorts obsession? Like, where you qualify it (it's okay when you're participating in sports, or when it's over 80 degrees, or when you're at a baseball game etc.) or is it an insane blanket obsession? It just seems so strange. I was in your class so I've seen how you dress. I'll just say that, all things considered, my legs look alright.

Methadras said...

I've seen a rash of younger guys than me (I'm 40) with big bellies and I'm thinking to myself why they are letting themselves go at such an early age. This doesn't preclude the little fatties I see running around either who aren't even in their teens yet. All I have to say is that thank God I have a flat stomach. Not a 6 pack, but flat. I know there is muscular development underneath, but there is just enough of a layer of sculpted butter above to hide the lines.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

Bob haircuts are for little girls, too, but that doesn't stop you.

Stop your haranguing.

former law student said...

To each her own: one of the many changes my wife persuaded me to make is to wear shorts and sandals in the summer.

rhhardin said...

Men at work.

But safety first.

Laura(southernxyl) said...


How charming.

I suppose "live and let live" was unheard of, where you come from.

I see sandals on a man as a sign that he's comfortable doing what he wants and couldn't care less what random strangers think about his manhood. And that, I find manly, but I suppose I'm in the minority there.

Youngblood said...

Dan Peres is an idiot. Hipsters are not particularly "contrarian" in nature, they're actually extremely conformist in attitude, fashion, and ideology. The idea that they're rejecting Obama by letting themselves go is genuinely hilarious.

I don't even know where to start with that! I mean, which is more absurd? The suggestion that the fashionably Left-leaning hipsters would reject America's most fashionable Left-leaning president? The idea that people are so Obama-obsessed that they register their agreement or opposition by how much they look like him?

That's just so... stupid.

The real driving force behind this trend is actually fairly mundane: Male hipsters are fairly lazy and divide their time between playing video games, "social networking" (in the new "2.0" sense), drinking cheap beer (PBR and dollar cans of Coors from the Bodega), smoking pot, and munching on stuff.

It really is that simple.

(PS: Ann, the guy in that picture isn't a hipster.)

Anonymous said...

A waist measurement of 40 inches or more on a man creates a substantially increased risk of a premature dirt nap.


Moose said...


Seriously, about the shorts thing, and with all due respect:

Fuck off. Don't be a hater.

Unknown said...

"... because a round belly is feminizing."

Right. Because gals with beer guts are oh so feminine.

wv prophy: British for condom.

The Crack Emcee said...


I suppose "live and let live" was unheard of, where you come from.

You're damn skippy - and in the rest of the world - or do you think our enemies are on our dicks because they think the Boomers in charge now have become so masculine?

I see sandals on a man as a sign that he's comfortable doing what he wants and couldn't care less what random strangers think about his manhood.

Yea, but what about his fashion sense? There are limits, Laura. I mean, you're either starring in The 10 Commandments or you ain't.

Ryan said...

This is one of those articles meant to be provocative. Or to justify yourself as a fat-ass.

The truth is, it will never be "hip to be round." It will always be better - in health, appearance, sex - to be lean around the waist than to sport a muffin top.

This is especially true now, in the US, where it seems that most people are fat.

When you are lean and fit, you really stand out, and it feels great.

Anonymous said...

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son..."

Anonymous said...

As a chubby guy, who just so happens to be happy and content with how I look, I agree that people who are too fat can never be fully happy, in the same way as people who are too scrawny, like I was in school. I'm always heckled by fitness mad dweebs about my weight gain, but there is no way I would ever change just to please them. Its about being happy in yourself, and I couldn't be happier now if I tried.