New Trend: The Gut

Potbellies are apparently the must-have accessory for the smart set. We'd say we were ahead of this curve, but the style is only de rigueur for men.

Writes the New York Times' Guy Trebay,

Too pronounced to be blamed on the slouchy cut of a T-shirt, too modest in size to be termed a proper beer gut, developed too young to come under the heading of a paunch, the Ralph Kramden is everywhere to be seen lately, or at least it is in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, the McCarren Park Greenmarket and pretty much any place one is apt to encounter fans of Grizzly Bear.

It's a fun piece, but I'm not quite sure what's given anyone the idea this is a new phenomenon: I'd go so far as to declare that the Grizzly-Bear-listening population, much like that of the general population and, indeed, members of the band itself, represent a wide range of physiques - and in any case were not those who were most prone to the overblown metrosexual orthodoxy in the first place. But some quoted in the piece suggest that this embrace of the gut could, in fact, be the hipster's contrarian response, not just to the pre-recession tyranny of Men's Health-style abs, but to the svelteness of the Commander in Chief. Being rebels sans causes, you see, these hipsters - who would, presumably, otherwise be hitting the gym between concerts? - have decided to develop guts. But why stop there? Maybe the gut - "the Kramden," to use the piece's term - is a response to the Recession, a sort of means of storing up supplies for the long winter, bear-style?

I'd be more inclined to point to the increasing acceptability of the shlub-with-hottie phenom in pop culture, something which we've detailed at some length in these digital pages. (And no, women have not embraced the Kramden; a letter in today's Wall Street Journal asking how to camouflage "flabby upper arms," and the tip we just received on combatting "the Stubborn, Unbeatable Bulge" is a reminder that insecurities are always in.) But even this would presuppose that this avant-garde gut is some sort of deliberate letting-go, or even subconscious rejection of norms. In fact, I think the phenomenon's a lot more straightforward: the hipsters who used to be really scrawny are now older, and can't drink as much PBR without it showing. And being women, we're nice about it.

It's Hip To Be Round [NY Times]
Youthful Blouses To Hide Arm Flab [Wall Street Journal]