It's a phenomenon that happens seasonally across the country. As the temperatures change, some students start distracting their fellow classmates by wearing shorts to school. Sounds familiar, right? Except, it's probably not what you think. I'm not talking about girls wearing tank tops or skirts in the summer -- I'm talking about boys wearing shorts in the winter.
Yes, while most people start piling on the layers, some school-age boys are going against the grain, refusing to put on pants in favor of wearing swishy basketball shorts, maybe even cargo joints. Since this style decision goes against all common sense, it's obviously garnering some attention, and not just from classmates -- these boys and their shorts are getting media attention, too!
The bulk of the conversation about these young men and their winter shorts is equal parts a meditation on why they would willingly dress against the weather in this way and a discussion of whether or not parents should even attempt to get their sons to wear pants/coats/gloves/anything warm. It's a stark contrast to the conversation about young women's warm-weather attire, which usually goes something like, "These girls should cover up, no matter how high the temperatures climb."
Also different? The fact that despite presenting legitimate health concerns -- frostbite, hypothermia, etc. -- boys' winter shorts go largely without reprimand. In fact, much of the response to them is apologetic: "The kids should be fine," "You know what, you wear what you want to wear," "With all the things to negotiate and argue about with my kids, here’s one I don’t really sweat."
If the risk of young men getting sick isn't enough cause for concern -- which, whatever, I guess, if it's not, it's not -- let's turn to the most common argument wielded against female students' tank tops/crop tops/shorts/skirts/leggings/collarbone-revealing shirts: These articles of clothing are "distracting." Granted, my sample size is small, but a quick Twitter search reveals that there are definitely a few classmates noticing these nameless boys who wear shorts in the winter.
Some parents even welcome the attention. As Dr. Deborah Gilboa who spoke to Today about the winter shorts phenomenon says, "My son gets a lot of attention when he wears less than usual clothing in cold weather. He gets to express his autonomy."
Don't get me wrong -- young people getting to express themselves how they want is a very cool thing. I'm just wondering: Why can't more people afford that same autonomy to our daughters?