body image · men

Put a sock on it?

The internet exploded today with news of yet another body revealing bathing suit for men, the politely named “swimming sock.” (Less polite names make use of every single penis joke you can imagine.)

And actually it sent me right back to high school when a friend of a friend set out to knit all of the boys “peter heaters” which involved getting measurements (of course!) and seeing them modeled to see if they fit properly. I grew up on the east coast of Canada where the beach meant the chilly Atlantic ocean and there was no chance of anyone wearing one in the summer. The “peter heaters” were meant for winter wear.

Back to men and skimpy bathing suits. The one on the far right is the “sock.”


Reactions from friends ran the gamut but the most common reaction is the one that really troubles me. It’s body shaming, the boy version.

“It’s okay if some hot guy wears it but just image the fat, hairy, old guys.”

I’ve blogged about this reaction and how much it troubles me before. See Men: It isn’t junk, Women: Stop saying you don’t need to see that.

I hear this from women who I know are sensitive to criticism of women’s bodies. They would speak up if someone said that about an older woman in a bikini. What is it about men’s bodies that makes some people so uncomfortable? Is it so wrong to like a diverse range of male bodies?

And what is it with those knee length baggy swim shorts that lots of men of all ages wear? I miss Australia where men wear “budgie smugglers” (as they say) and New Zealand where men wear short shorts.

And you know what? I love those old fat wrinkly guys in their speedos. Why? I feel completely free to wear my bikini. If they can do it, so can I.

My least favourite expression comes from men themselves. “Who wants to see some guy’s junk?” Stop calling it “junk.” Please.

If you want to wear one in my hot tub, that’s just fine. It’s a body shame free zone. A fashion shame free zone too.