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Paul Mescal can wear short shorts, but can regular men? | Barbara Ellen

Paul Mescal can wear short shorts, but can regular men?  |  Barbara Ellen
Paul Mescal can wear short shorts, but can regular men?  |  Barbara Ellen


SSomething strange is happening to men's shorts. They are no longer shorts, but rather short-shorts. Last week, Normal people actor Paul Mescal, soon to star in Ridley Scotts Gladiator 2, went viral after showing up at the Gucci menswear show in Milan wearing short shorts. I am a great defender for men wearing shorter shorts, said Mescal, an official Gucci ambassador. Paired with a shirt, loafers and socks pulled up to mid-calf, his shorts were indeed extremely short. A casual observer might think Mescal was standing on the street in pants.

It turns out that Mescal is a all time dedicated shorts fan. But it goes beyond the Mescal effect, or even the leggy musculature on display at Euro 2024. Short-shorts are everywhere: on the catwalks; worn by Harry Styles; floating around social media like a summer thigh hashtag.

In some cases, it's not just about brevity, but also about convenience (all I can say is search Google responsibly). Is it progress that it is women's turn to no longer know where to look? Indeed, as liberating as short shorts may be for men, they might also represent reverse sexism in action. Young women, in particular, are redressing the gender balance, just as previous generations did (think Nick Kamen stepping out of his jeans in the laundromat of the legendary Advertising Levis501). Instead of a hot girl summer, it could be a female gaze summer for a change.

That said, would what is acceptable to Mescal be equally cherished to your brother, your partner or your father? How about male colleagues squirming around the office in racy skimmers? While women still regularly face pressure to be bikini ready, I feel emboldened to ask: are British men's short shorts ready?

A wild guess says that's probably not the case. British men have a reputation for not even wearing long shorts properly. There is usually no preparation (exercise/tanning/appropriate shoes). As soon as the sun shines, the vast majority don them with pale legs and old shoes, looking most of the time like sneaky scout leaders from the 1970s. I can't speak (my bare legs look like something that is sadly examined in an apathology laboratory in an episode of Silent witness), but I don't show them. Mendont treatment, both deeply admirable And patriarchal social conditioning 1.0. Further proof that they are not trained from the cradle to worry about every millimeter of their body.

Then there are the double standards. Micro-shorts are also trendy for women, but too often it seems that anything that shows any part of the female body (cleavage, stomach, thighs) is enough to provoke the hordes of slut-shaming. Is this also true for men? Or is it that whatever they wear, no matter how skimpy and provocative, they aren't accused of slutty desperation, pathetic attention-hungry, or letting their whole penis down, as women usually are? women when they show a little flesh.

Which is to say that, at worst, Mescals' short-shorts provoked a few amused laughs. If they constitute the last political and sexual minefield, it is still very different for boys.

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Barbara Ellen is a columnist for the Observer




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