Poll: Are Potbellies the Latest Fashion Accessory for Men?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  85 comments   :  20,288 Views

I read the New York Time Style section religiously each Thursday and Sunday. Their reporters publish the kind of stories that most don't get many opportunities to write: The conceptual scoop. That is, noticing a trend while it's happening rather than after it peaks and even your grandmother is on board.

These stories, in the Style section at least, are a nice respite from the seriousness of the rest of the "Gray Lady." (Two recent examples that come to mind are Japanese women carrying boutique bags as status symbols and 20-somethigns reviving a love of Victorian relics and taxidermy.) Last week though, one Style section story had me laughing out loud.
Bellies are the latest fashion accessory for men in the know.
Hmm, in that case, my granddad has been uber-chic forever!

From Noticed: Itís Hip to Be Round:

"THIS summer the unvarying male uniform in the precincts of Brooklyn cool has been a pair of shorts cut at knickers length, a V-neck Hanes T-shirt, a pair of generic slip-on sneakers and a straw fedora. Add a leather cuff bracelet if the coolster is gay.

In truth this get-up was pretty much the unvarying male uniform last summer also, but this year an unexpected element has been added to the look, and that is a burgeoning potbelly one might term the Ralph Kramden.

Too pronounced to be blamed on the slouchy cut of a T-shirt, too modest in size to be termed a proper beer gut, developed too young to come under the heading of a paunch, the Ralph Kramden is everywhere to be seen lately, or at least it is in the vicinity of the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene, the McCarren Park Greenmarket and pretty much any place one is apt to encounter fans of Grizzly Bear."

Is it really that hip, young men see six-pack abs as prissy, that they don't have the time to devote to a fitness regime or that they're influenced by President Obama's fit physique? (All hypotheses experts present in the story.)

Or is it just that even NYC hipsters aren't immune to the weight epidemic in this country?

Since when is a rising BMI a positive trend?

If the subset of the population changed--say 20-something women, Midwestern soybean farmers, swimsuit models or police officers in North Dakota instead of Brooklyn men--would the trend be covered differently? The story acknowledges that burgeoning bellies have long been a symbol of prosperity, but it never once mentions the words "weight" or "obesity."

What do you think about this story? Are potbellies and weight gain just as amusing and newsworthy when they're not attached to a young man sporting a slim-fitting T-shirt?

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  • 85
    Find this sad....a real sign of the times for sure. - 9/12/2010   9:36:45 PM
  • 84
    if its so great- come up to Canada and you can HAVE MINE-I am SICK TO DEATH OF IT - 9/11/2010   5:48:47 PM
  • 83
    If that is a fashion trend, it is a pretty disturbing one. Not very healthy. - 9/11/2010   5:48:20 PM
  • 82
    My boyfriend and I are in our early twenties, and while the BF is "fashionably underfed" (he's worked a grueling, physical job since he was 17 and hasn't had the chance to gain more than 5 pounds since we started dating), his father has a bit of a belly. We joke (but seriously) that when we graduate college and he gets a "real" (sit-down) job, I will make him join my gym and eat that healthy crap I always cook so he'll have no choice but to stay fit. It's really no laughing matter, though. His grandfather just had open-heart surgery last week and the man never missed a meal, so we're both on the health wagon hoping to prevent future damage control. - 7/13/2010   10:55:20 AM
    Could the 'pot bellies' on men be their answer to the terrible trend of the 'muffin top' that some women are so proud of?? How did fashion come to this? I am appalled at some of the size 18s who squeeze into a size 12, with a 'below the waist' spare tire protruding above the waist band of their clothing!! Both men and women need to look in a full length mirror at least once a day. - 6/30/2010   4:38:37 PM
  • 80
    I know the majority of you would disagree with me, but I like my man with a little extra meat on his bones, but not a ton. Skinny men look more like boys to me, and I'm just not attracted to that. It might also be because I'm one of those girls who has a thicker body frame. Seriously, I have wide shoulders and hips and I've just gotten to the point to where I'm okay with that. If a guy is thinner than me, it's a turn off.
    Last week I read an article that SparkPeople sent me about being fat and fit. As it turns out it's actually possible to have a little bulge around the middle and be healthy. - 6/30/2010   2:12:18 PM
  • 79
    Sadly what I think has happened is that women have gotten so used to the idea that men are going to have a round fat belly (even if we keep ourselves within 5lbs of our pre-pregnancy weight) that we've given up on having a husband/SO with a sexy 6 pack. We've reframed that big fat belly to be attractive so we don't have to be unhappy with our men.

    Maybe this is a little extreme. But if 66% of us are overweight including young people, to some extent we're going to have revise our idea of what is attractive or be terminally disappointed. But alas, as soon as Spartacus comes on I remember "Dudes with ripped bodies are freaking hot!" - 4/2/2010   9:54:30 PM
  • 78
    Potbellies are not attractive. - 2/1/2010   4:17:03 PM
  • 77
    Pot-bellies aren't necessary and just show lazy men. TONY HORTON teaches how to get in shape without a lot of time with P90X. - 1/11/2010   1:37:42 PM
  • 76
    pot bellies are becoming very prevelant, why can't everyone find this site and its importance - 12/28/2009   8:44:29 AM
  • 75
    No - 12/14/2009   1:00:27 PM
  • ALIH5308
    LATEST fashion trend??? I thought it was always that way. - 12/14/2009   11:44:16 AM
    I dumped my potbelly -- guess I'm out of style. - 11/3/2009   7:10:44 AM
  • 72
  • 71
    In my office it seems to be a status symbol. "I'm too busy and too important to work out. I spend all my days at the office so I don't have time to eat healthy." All the upper management had what I called the pregnant belly. - 9/8/2009   2:07:34 PM
  • TWILLIAMS92514
    I agree too! - 9/8/2009   1:56:28 PM
  • 69
    I agree with comment 67, Wendy hit the nail on the head. A bit of extra weight around your belly is not gross or disgusting. A bit of a belly is normal and you can still be healthy. Being super skinny or having a six pack does not make you healthy at all. Sure i would love to have the super flat tummy I had before kids but guess what it probably isnt goin to happen because after a c-section the little pouch just doesnt go away. no matter what. I dont think that pot bellies are not really a "trend" just that going to the gym 24/7 isnt the norm anymore. Especially since gym memberships can be costly and in this economy it is not practical. I would rather have a man with a bit of a belly then his ribs poking out through his skin.

    Also I am a bit dissapointed in some of the comments that I have read. How sad that sparksmembers who are here to live a healthier lifestyle judge others for a bit of extra weight on them. No one is perfect and to strive for perfection is impossible - 8/25/2009   4:08:08 PM
  • 68
    Not everyone is overweight or obese due to overindulging, but gluttony seems to be the American way. Oversize for 39 cents more is a big incentive plus we've probably all been told by grandma that we need a "little meat on our bones" so we get "overeat" from every direction. Ads on TV certainly don't help. It's all a psychological way of getting someone to do something they don't really want to do. Like training a rat, we've all been trained to eat when we see food! - 8/25/2009   8:37:27 AM
  • 67
    The men in the pictures at the top of the article barely have any tummies at all. I don't think the author is being serious about the potbelly being a fashion statement. It seems that the author is more likely commenting on the number of men who are not spending time watching their weight or in the gym. The obesity epidemic in this country is on many of our minds, and perhaps the constant dieting and trips to the gym are starting to wear on people. I mean, in this economy, I wouldn't be surprised to find that gym memberships have waned.

    Personally, I love a guy with a little belly. I agree with others who have commented that hugging a skinny person or someone with six-pack abs isn't exactly warm and cuddly in my mind. But, whatever floats your boat! My hubby has lost 195 pounds, and he is still a little squishy around the middle. Having six-pack abs is pretty difficult; I've read that to have them, you practically have to starve yourself to get rid of the fat on top of your ab muscles. Thanks, but I'd rather that my man aim for "healthy," rather than "starving." - 8/24/2009   11:07:58 AM
  • 66
    I don't think that anyone purposely wants to have a potbelly. My husband has a belly and he is who he is. I encourage him to work at it because I know it's not healthy. If he wears something that doesn't work with it, I tell him to save it for when it goes down a little. - 8/24/2009   9:15:16 AM
  • 65
    I think its riduculous anyone wanting to have a pot belly, why do people use all these things as a fashion statement. someone with a pot belly is heading for obesity and it unhealthy. No woman out there wants a pot belly for the sake of it, why should a man want to show theirs off. Personally I find it a complete turn off!!! - 8/24/2009   4:12:30 AM
  • 64
    I have to agree with the one or two other comments on here that this is completely tongue-in-cheek, and the general reaction is taking it way too seriously! Sounds to me like a commentary on the ever-expanding waistline in America. Of course a potbelly isn't attractive or fashionable. - 8/23/2009   7:17:40 PM
    Six packs or beer belly? .... You've gotta be joking! I personally don't care what others find is "cool", I'd be more concerned about my personal welfare and general health. If my abdominal artery begins to swell, I'd rather know about first so I could seek treatment, not unexpectedly suffering a burst artery which would likely kill me. The benefits of ridding oneself of the pot belly far outweigh the costs of supporting one. I am referring to one's health, well-being and longevity. - 8/23/2009   5:24:43 PM
    There's nothing I find more attractive in a man than a flat stomach. My husband has one. - 8/23/2009   4:32:18 PM
  • 61
    The NYT article is pretty dumb, even for an obvious joke. I'm not really comfortable with this blog post or many of the responses to it, either. When did it become socially acceptable to criticize another human being's appearance under the guise of commenting on their health status? - 8/23/2009   2:50:34 PM
  • 60
    Please name a time in the last 2000 years when some men or women for that matter didn't have paunches/guts/beerbellies.
    I think the writer just ran out of ideas to write about. - 8/23/2009   2:40:58 PM
  • 59
    Ah, the pot belly; someone hit a never somewhere. All men wish it would go away (some just deal with it better than others). The hard fact is... the first to come is the last to go. Think back (way back for some of us) when the love handles started to form and the gut started to cover the six pack (yes, we all have a six pack). For most, it was so far back and so subtle, we don't remember how we got there. - 8/23/2009   11:45:21 AM
  • 58
    Please... Oh SP writer.... don't you see that you are perpetuating contempt in the community? Just look at some of the comments that follow, about "turnoffs" and "boomers" and "how unattractive" they are. I realize you're following the newspapers -- but just LOOK at us following the contemptuous line here.

    It's not like we don't KNOW that many of us are not lined up with what's being sold as media perfect with the objective of selling "stuff" to fix us.

    Please darling SP writer... you're very good, but there have been a couple of posts of late that take us down the road of blaming and criticizing OURSELVES (yes, we're the ones others look at and go EWWW sometimes) -- and I'd really rather not have to see it on a consistent basis.

    That means -- once in a while -- but do note that all of us including me (just look at this post of mine) get kind of self-righteous and blame others and each other -- and maaaaaybe there's another way.

    Love to all of you who care enough to work for SP or to post your true thoughts... these are just mine. - 8/23/2009   11:28:28 AM
  • 57
    This has GOT to be a tongue-in-cheek, satirical article...! You can look at the fellows at any mall, welfare office, whathaveyou and find pot bellies all over the place at all socioeconomic levels...although probably scarcest at the upper end! While some may actually be so oblivious to take pride in their bellies, I have to believe the majority of men would rather make their way through life sans belly! Ugh!

    Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professional, Binghamton Area Losers and Laid Off But Staying Strong SparkTeams - 8/23/2009   9:52:39 AM
    It is funny (not ha-ha funny) that fat is mentioned in the style context. With the lower cut of pants and the cling of shirts that are in style right now, there is lots of belly flopping out on display. As a person in her 40s who has had a life-long battle to lose and hide my fat, I just can't make the mental adjustment that is is OK to wear it with pride. On one hand, I'm glad females aren't full of shame about their bodies but without that embarrassment, it seems to say - "it's okay to be fat!" and not consider the hardship on one's frame. My roommate and I have called it "the millennial roll" because we see so many young people with this fat - worn with what appears to be pride, or at least nonchalance. It will only get harder to carry as they get older... believe me, I know! - 8/23/2009   8:48:28 AM
  • 55
    Ah, the baby boomers! It must have been a very slow day in New York. - 8/23/2009   7:48:04 AM
    I read an article a few weeks ago which stated that the fat around the abdominal area is different than fat in other areas of the body. Abdominal fat is more sensitive and response to changes in cortisol levels. Cortisol is the "stress" hormone. So in short, the more stressed a person is, the more they release cortisol, the more difficult it becomes to loose abdominal fat, even when exercising and eating healthy. So, the increase in "pot bellies" may be due to stress, not unlikely in this economy. So, they could just be dealing with stress and not a keg of beer. LOL - 8/23/2009   6:52:09 AM
    Potbellies are trendy? Whatever floats your boat. I suppose many people follow trends like good little sheep. Monkey see, monkey do. Personally, I do my own thing, what's best for me.

    Potbellies? Get serious. - 8/22/2009   10:36:41 PM
  • 52
    I'd be interested to know why it's considered a fashion statement. A good health move, I could understand. There have been several studies published recently showing that men and women who carry a few extra pounds (emphasis on FEW) are less likely to have health problems and die of heart attack than their healthy trim contemporaries.

    It's certainly not newsworthy (in my opinion, 'news' is something factual which could have long term impact...like a war or a disaster NOT someone's gut).

    Looks don't mean much to me anyhow. My husband has a small pot belly and he is actually underweight for his height. He's also solid muscle everywhere but there and even then, it's more that he just doesn't have muscle definition so what little fat he does have just sort of hangs there. I care a lot more about what kind of a human being he is. He's healthy, loving, compassionate, and caring. That means more than what some fashion magazine thinks he should look like.

    I'm a little disappointed by some of the comments I see here. You can't gauge someone's health by looking at them. I'm obese but healthy; I have good HDL, low LDL, normal triglycerides, and good blood pressure --- all without medication. My perfectly trim brother-in-law with the athlete's physique gets out of breath on a short walk from the house to the truck. He can't even carry a 50 pound bag of dog food! He also has horrible blood values and high blood pressure.

    - 8/22/2009   5:44:01 PM
  • 51

    That was the first thought that came to my mind too! - 8/22/2009   5:22:17 PM
  • 50
    Obama's fit physique? Who are you kidding!! Regarding politicians on a totally non-political subject, Bush beats Obama handily and easily any day. For one, Obama admits that he still smokes - yeah, that's healthy. If presidents are going to be thrown into the mix here, at least pick a president who is truly physically fit. While George Bush was not well liked by many, there is no denying that he is extremely physically fit. - 8/22/2009   5:05:51 PM
  • 49
    Pretty sure I started this trend years ago....

    - 8/22/2009   1:25:50 PM
    You know it must be a slow news day in NYC when a story like this makes the newspapers. Gosh, but I hope this isn't true because it would be a serious double standard. It's now fashionable for men to have potbellies and not women ? Is that what they are saying ? I sure hope not.

    A potbellie puts a man (as well as woman) at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. While they may be saying that having a pot bellie is a sign of influence as well as affluence (think Diamond Jim Brady), it is NOT a sign of good health.

    No, this is one trend I hope does not repeat throughout the country and I think it's irresponsible of the paper to run an article like this when so many people are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

    - 8/22/2009   1:25:45 PM
  • 47
    POTBELLIES! My husband has one. He has had 4 heart attacks & has high cholesterol & has sleep apnea. I wish he would exercise more. - 8/22/2009   1:00:12 PM
  • 46
    When I first read this title my thoughts wer Not no, but H*** No! but, not only does it seem to be a trend in NYC males, but in young southern women and some not so young ones around here.... With the trend of the hipsters and low rise jeans around we have seen alot of potbellies flopping around here! I can't see, but my hubby will fill me in when there is a particularly unpleasant view of a belly flopping around.... I take care with how I look even though I can't see and often wonder if many people think they look good flopping around out there or if they just don't look in the mirror before leaving the house! I try not to judge on how people look, but why do you want to draw attention to a burgeoning belly if you are not pregnant? Why would you want loose butt cheeks flapping in the wind? I think it would be covered completely different if it were swimsuit models sporting potbellies! I'm probably being too critical, but it just doesn't feel right! - 8/22/2009   12:40:28 PM
    I saw this also and it is true there seems to be some weird thing going on with that.

    I haven't understood the references to the U.S. President's physique, though. He has flat abs, doesn't he?

    Speaking as someone (not male) who has spent 10 years working on an escape from the "family stomach" (my family seems to tend to put on a round pad of weight there though the women are pear shaped), I personally hope this trend passes before my brother gets wind of it and decides to let nature takes its course.

    - 8/22/2009   11:47:31 AM
  • 44
    If a potbelly is a fashion statement, 2 of my last 3 dates have been uber chic!LOL I've read recently that a large abdomen is a sign of heart problems. I wonder if that changes for people who have lipo and tucks? If they have them and are proud of them, more power to them. A young guy who used to live around here had a t-shirt that said "it's not a potbelly, it's a fuel tank for a love machine!" Yeah, right! I've always had a full abdomen even as a teen and once I get the money, we're off to see the plastic surgeon! I'm serious!!! - 8/22/2009   11:38:37 AM
  • 43
    Most potbellied people i know have health problems,
    I have a feeling, they are not trying to set a trend!
    My doctor is one of them! - 8/22/2009   10:29:10 AM
  • 42
    This new "fashion trend" is not going to help my husband to drop the belly... [sighs]
    - 8/22/2009   10:15:07 AM
  • 41
    Nope, it's not cool! Nearly as bad as the plumber's crack!

    - 8/22/2009   10:03:21 AM
  • 40
    POT BELLIES.....EEEEWWWWWW! Definitely a turnoff for moi! - 8/22/2009   9:34:13 AM
    I see more pot bellies on young girls who wear those short tight tops - UGH. Doesn't anyone have pride in their looks anymore? I live in NY and see this everyday. Is the rest of the country like this? - 8/22/2009   9:32:23 AM
  • 38
    I don't find health problems very amusing though I have given my DB some jokes about his gut. I think of the double standard with this topic. I've heard women with a pot bellies often referred to as a cow or some other negative. Our society tends to see over weight women as gross but this article makes it seem okay for a man. Argh! - 8/22/2009   9:30:18 AM
  • 37
    forwarding this to a few "friends"... - 8/22/2009   8:23:57 AM
    while we should stop condeming those who are overweight, we also should not applaud it. i am sick of the fat jokes. i want to become healthy so that is why i am a spark person.l - 8/22/2009   8:09:59 AM

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