Skin-Baring Dos and Don'ts for Summer
I was at my daughter's school having lunch one day before the end of the year when one of her fellow kindergarteners yelped.
"Ewwww," she cried. "Gross." I looked around the cafeteria to see what was causing her such consternation.
One boy at our table had chicken nuggets hanging from each side of his mouth and was mumbling through the food (and drooling just a bit), "I'm a vampire." Gross? No, that couldn't be it. The vampire trick never gets old, drool or no drool.
At the table next to ours, a kid had his finger up his nose, but nobody seemed fazed by it, so that couldn't be it either.
I looked out the window, and there I saw what she found so offensive. It was a man. Nothing more. Except that the man happened to be mowing his lawn while shirtless.
"What's he doing with his shirt off?" the girl asked indignantly. "Doesn't he know this is a public school?"
In defense of the mowing man, it was the first 90-degree day of the year. Yet the 6-year-old has a point, raising the question: When is it OK for a man to take his shirt off while doing yard work?
I think I have the answer. It's a simple litmus test any man can administer at home.
Men, next time you're sweating through your T-shirt and contemplating walking around half-nekked in front of your neighbors, ask yourself this one question: "Would I ever make it on the cover of Men's Health magazine?"
If not, keep covered up. And stop your bellyaching. You have only a T-shirt making you hot. Women also have bras. Try wearing both a bra and shirt the next sweltering day, and you'll be thanking your lucky stars that you're a man.
If, on the other hand, you could model for Men's Health, you should still exercise good judgment about when and where to remove your shirt. Along U.S. 15-501 is, for example, not a good idea. I know this because a friend of mine nearly swerved off the road when a shirtless Adonis chose the highway for his daily run.
The rules change, of course, by bodies of water. There, all bets are off. Men and women alike deserve the -liberty to be free of worries about their bodies somewhere.
It's just like the inscription on Lady Liberty says: "Give me your cellulite, your muffin top, your huddled rolls of fat yearning to breathe free."
No? That's not what she said?
Well, it was something like that, and I think we all agree it's important to allow your skin to breathe free. When you're at the pool or the beach, don't worry about how you look. Everybody there is too self-conscious about their own flaws to pay attention to yours.
OK, truth be told, there will be a few people looking at your body. They're the ones who have lean, -cellulite-free bodies and thus the confidence to make eye contact with the less -fortunate. Don't be intimidated.
First of all, you know a secret that the buff, beautiful young'uns don't, although they learned about it in school. It's called (shhh) gravity, and ha! those kiddos will find out about it soon enough.
Second, the over-30 set who have maintained their figures work hard at it. While we're enjoying our English muffins slathered in butter (hey, at least it's a whole-wheat muffin), they're already at the gym.
I was at a party last fall when I met a woman who looked familiar, but I couldn't place her. She, and we'll call her Aphrodite, said the same of me. "Oh, I know," Aphrodite said after a moment of chitchat. "We see each other at the pool!"
I was still trying to place her when I realized I knew her by another name.
"Abs! You're Abs," I said. "We didn't know your name, so we just referred to you as 'Abs.'"
I don't know if I embarrassed her or offended her. (Note to self: Stop blurting out stupid things.)
Regardless of which it was, Aphrodite was quick to tell me about her exercise regimen and diet. I got it. Abs, er, I mean, Aphrodite works hard for her body. I admire her for it.
As for me, well, I'll be easy to find next time you're at the pool. Just look for the blindingly pale skin, stretch marks and one goofy grin that says I'm OK with it.
Contact freelance writer Melanie Coughlin at email@example.com.
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