Oh, Simon Doonan. Only you would be awesome enough to ask the question that has long been on our minds: why don’t straight American men wear Speedos?
The issue of male modesty seems fascinating and complex, and sometimes even I accidentally find myself making presumptions about men in skimpier swimwear or shorter-than-average shorts. But as Doonan points out, it’s a strangely American phenomenon.
However, there is something even more mysterious to this issue than the persistent fear of being mistaken for a bisexual Serbian cruise-ship croupier: American dudes are driven by a Wizard of Oz–like desire to “curtain off” their genitals. They are impelled to gird up their loins with yards of fabric, thereby protecting—symbolically and literally—their reproductive equipment, while sinewy Spaniards, hard-body Greeks, bronzed Aussies, diverse Latin Americans, and pale squishy Brits take a reverse approach. These fellows prefer to wear swimsuits that say, “In case you wondered, I am the proud possessor of male genitalia, and in case you don’t believe me, here it is!”
He blames our society’s Puritanical roots, and makes a good case for changing the male swimsuit standard. Really, his entire (apparently year-old) essay on Slate is well worth a read. But I’ll add to the discussion that I’ve jumped into a pool with baggy shorts on before, and I don’t know how dudes do that all the time. Smaller is certainly better from a practical perspective.