In a clearly tongue-in-cheek article for the Irish Times, Brian O'Connell asks, "Should Irishmen Wear Speedos?" A quick survey of my friends brought up another question: "Should anyone wear Speedos?" Let's break it down, shall we?
I grew up a swimmer; I spent 10 years on competitive swim teams, six of which were spent on co-ed teams, so to me, Speedos are uniforms, meant to be worn while racing. And though Speedos as beach wear for men aren't as popular in the States as they are in Europe, the ol' "Oh, dude, I saw this guy in a Speedo," story comes up nearly every time someone I know goes to the beach. But upon reflection I've realized that this is a bit messed up: saying something like, "He should not have been wearing that Speedo" is akin to saying, "She doesn't have the body for a two-piece," is it not?
Fashion retailer Alan Kelly tells O'Connell that Irish men prefer Bermuda shorts at the beach "because this type of shorts covers a multitude: if you are tall and skinny, then it covers your knees; if you are big and stout, then it will cover stocky legs. So it suits all shapes and sizes, which is important for Irish lads!" A sign that though it isn't reported nearly as often, men struggle with their body image when choosing swimwear as well; they just don't have a Cathy representing them on the comics page, I guess. Tom Julian, a stylist, tells the Houston Chronicle that men shouldn't wear Speedos because if they "are you're of a certain age, it looks like you're trying too hard. Some men actually think if they dress like a surfer or a swimmer, they'll get the hot girl. In most cases, it doesn't work." In other words, men have to deal with "age appropriate" swimwear choices, too.
However, this doesn't really answer the main question: outside of racing, should anyone really be wearing Speedos? Or is it a fashion faux pas, like socks with sandals? I guess my take on it is this: if you are comfortable enough with your body to rock a Speedo, and you're not being that creepy guy at the beach who sits a certain way to give the ladies a view they did NOT ask for, then good on you, man. However you want to spend your time at the ocean is your biz. But if the men of the world get a pass on wearing Speedos, then they need to back the fuck off whenever a woman who doesn't look like Adriana Lima dares to wear a two piece. We should all be working towards a culture where it's not what we are wearing, but how comfortable we are wearing it, and maybe that starts with both sexes finally giving a little credit to those who are comfortable enough to show their bodies at the beach without really giving a damn what anyone else thinks.
My Irish boyfriend, however, answered O'Connell's question with a big ol' "Ah, no. For fuck's sake."
Advice For Male Shoppers: Speedos Not For Everybody [Houston Chronicle]
Should Irishmen Wear Speedos? [Irish Times]