There comes a time in every man's life when he, even if just for a second, wants to dress well for some reason or other. And sometimes that man is fat and wants some good advice. So he opens the pages of esquire and reads about how he should wear muumuus and onesies instead of shirts and slacks. Because he's fat. Thanks, Esquire. You're doing the lord's work.
Esquire's readers are outraged that a post by Josh Ozersky purporting to be a guide on how to dress well as a larger gentleman turned out be kind of a badly written joke-insult. And you know, they're actually absolutely right to be upset.
Here's how the article starts:
Listen up, my fellow big men! Sharp dressing isn't just for reed-slim male models. There is hope for the rest of us! No matter what "the fashion police" tell you, all bodies are beautiful, and there's a look to flatter every shape and size. You might not find it on the runway or in the menswear department of swanky stores, but it's out there. Whether you're stocky, husky, or just plain obese, there's a look for you. Here are a few tips for looking your best.
Nice! I like that conversational style. It makes me comfortable and ready to trust you! What have you got for me?
The Challenge: Suit and tie
Nothing says "class" more than an elegant jacket and tie, no matter what the setting. Sometimes this is a real challenge for heavy men, though. Even a perfectly-tied windsor knot can be obscured by "collar top," that unsightly bulge formed by repulsive, quivering neck fat. Open collars tend to protrude outward into the air like feelers, and the grimy sweat produced by activities like walking and breathing can turn even the whitest collar into a stiff and mottled mess. Even skillfully altered sportcoats can fit awkwardly. Broad backs and rounded shoulders fill up even the most generously cut jackets, bunching up sleeve openings and causing a restrictive, Frankenstein-like tightness whereby plump arms are unable to raise a fork higher that chest-level.
The Solution: A double-breasted suit, preferably in some light-absorbing color, helps to disguise even the most obese torso from human eyes, and even offers a relatively flattering profile.
Oh, not so nice.
Listen, I get that this article, written by a portly man for portly men, is supposed to be a joke, but it isn't very well done, and I find myself ashamed that I defended it even for a second. You see, when my editor first approached me with the idea of commenting on this piece of dreck, I told her that I wasn't particularly offended. "I mean it's a fat man writing about other fat men and I also wear a muumuu regularly (because it is hella comfortable, so I don't see the problem?" But then I actually thought about it, and while I'm not writing any letters to the editor demanding that Josh Ozersky be barred from ever writing again in his natural lifetime (I'm cool if he wants to write from beyond), I do recognize that it's incredibly demeaning to give people the idea that you're going to give them actual fashion advice and then make them feel like shit because that advice is to use hash browns for soaking up sweat. In a magazine that already caters so little to its portlier audience, it feels mocking and insulting to have a rare post about dressing nicely for one's size just be...this. We already know we have quivering neck fat, dude, no need to remind us.
While it's true that men and women don't face the same amount of pressure when it comes to idealized body image, it's also true that men are sensitive about size. As a larger man myself (although I prefer fat to portly), I struggle shopping for clothes and end up wearing things in dark colors that are easy to shop for. But sometimes it's nice to look good, and sometimes it feels embarrassing reading an article like this and knowing that a magazine like Esquire would publish something like this, knowing that they're alienating their audience. And it doesn't help that Ozarsky is a fat man. As readers point out, they came looking for real helpful information and found words such as sagging and repulsive instead. That's not a particularly funny joke.
According to Sex Nerd Sandra, Ozarsky has confirmed that the article was a joke on Twitter and pointed out that he struggles with some of the same issues he was joking about. But then, Sandra points out, why belittle others who struggle in the same way? And I agree. Why not go for a funny article with real advice?
The only saving grace of this article is probably the Homer Simpson GIF (because that is pure gold) and the fact that unlike Michael Carl, Ozarsky didn't tell fat men that the best suit for them would be the one they could wear to the fucking gym. Small comfort.
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