Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Banana Hammock Debate

I just got back to the States about a week ago after having spent two weeks in Greece. It was amazing; I got to see my girlfriend after two months apart, leave the country for the first time since 2004, be on an archaeological dig, learn about seven Greek words, and finally hit up a beach with the new swim trunks I bought.

Admittedly, it's been about three years since I've been on an American beach, but judging from what you can find in stores, the styles for men's bathing suits haven't changed much. Brands like American Apparel sell trunks cut high so that they actually allow the wearer to get some sun on his pasty-ass thighs. This is the style that I purchased, and I like them because not only do I have pasty-ass thighs, but they also hearken back to ancient times, the 1970's, when American men viewed showing off their bodies as a simple masculine pride thing, not a symptom of the gay gene.

Unfortunately, the market is still dominated by the surfer-dude board short phenomenon. These are the bathing suit equivalent of capri pants, and they make no sense. Unless you have a sun allergy, why would you want to cover up so much skin? Furthermore, if you're over the age of 16, why the hell would you want skulls and flames on them, like the ridiculous Ed Hardy shorts pictured above?

European men generally have the right idea. Sure, there were some young guys wearing past-the-knee Billabong board shorts, but most embraced a shorter trunk. Some, however, took things too far. The picture I posted above is an exaggeration only insofar as no one wears a crucifix like Flava Flav wore a clock around his neck. Even on the minority of men who look like they've been chiseled out of stone, the banana hammock is just too much for my taste. While it's not the only style of bathing suit that puts one's moose knuckle front and center (too-tight trunks can do that as well), it's certainly the silhouette that draws the most attention to it. On men who are a bit softer around the middle, it does nothing to balance out their body size, making them look like they're wearing something two sizes too small.

In summation: go for a trunk that hits at about mid-thigh. Wear darker trunks with longer legs if you're a bigger guy, but still keep them a couple inches above your knee. The sun gods will be pleased.

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