Muffin Tops are Bustin' Out All Over

   Thank goodness someone has finally spoken up! (From the L.A. Times:)

    The Sausage Casing Girls are everywhere this summer, their muffin tops hanging over their hip-skimming jeans, clothes shrink-wrapped around fleshy bodies that look as if they've been stuffed — like forcemeat — into teensy tops and skintight pants.

    Visit the local mall, any beach boardwalk or the sidewalk in front of your neighborhood high school and you will see why healthcare professionals are so alarmed about expanding waistlines. And while chunky teen boys and young men hide in cartoonishly large basketball jerseys over big T-shirts and elephant-legged shorts, girls generally do not. They may be getting bigger, but their clothes are getting smaller.

    Babes have been bustin' out all over the U.S. for a long time now and there is no denying that we have a higher concentration of them out here in southern California (no doubt thanks to our endless summer). I'm happy to see that the young girls who are comin' to the canyon are letting their flesh flag wave high but what kind of trick mirrors are they putting into the junior departments in our nation's department stores anyway?
     Years ago, back when the craze of super low-rider jeans began, I pitched a story to Time Out NY that, like the LA Times piece excerpted below, proposed to wonder out loud how females of this current generation fell under the delusional spell that fat asses squeezed into tight jeans looked good.  Chubby chasers aside, I wondered if anyone thought this look was even remotely flattering? I mean, I remember wearing the prototypical low-rider Landlubber jeans back in the early 70's, (when the first wave of "freak folk"  hit). That was when the ideal beauty  was more laid-back earth mama and less coked-up hootchie mama. Think Joni Mitchell or Carole King vs. J.Lo or Paris Hilton. Back then a little muffin top didn't mean much. Maybe because there was no awareness that something like that required a label. Or maybe because we had just discovered brown rice and raw veggies and didn't have the plethora of fast food restaurants to pig out in (a shame, considering how often we got 'the munchies'). Plus our Indian print halter tops tended to flow below the belly button AND our low-riders didn't ride THAT low.
    Look, I don't knock any teenage girl's desire to attract the opposite sex but I'm sorry, those super-low-slung jeans do NOT look good on the super-size-me generation. They don't even look good on skinny chicks (even the most toned starlet ends up with pancake ass.)
    Alas, Time Out NY nixed my pitch. Maybe I should've spoken to someone at the LA Times instead.  More from the July 4th edition:

    One is tempted to applaud the Sausage Casing Girls; after all, Southern California is an epicenter of body consciousness, and here they are thumbing their noses at the idea that they must be whippets or Lindsay Lohans to wear the current styles, which for the last several seasons have been exaggeratedly body-hugging and skin-revealing. Perhaps all that self-esteem building has finally paid off.

    But this phenomenon does not appear entirely to be about self-acceptance and the conscious abandonment of repressive physical ideals. It is far more complicated than that. Yes, there are plenty of young women who can confidently say that they are happy with their less-than-svelte shapes — and that is to be applauded. But there are many others who in the rush to be fashionable are unable to admit that they are larger than they wish to be, or that their bodies just don't look good in the clothes they are choosing. Instead of reveling in their big, beautiful bodies, many girls instead are deep in denial, pouring themselves into clothes that are putting them in a python squeeze.

    .....Susan Bartell, a psychologist and the author of "Dr. Susan's Girls-Only Weight Loss Guide," said there are multiple reasons for this trend. Some girls just want to fit in and they end up in uncomfortably tight clothes because the culture demands it, some girls rationalize that they look good in the clothes because they aren't ready to confront the idea that they are overweight and some are honestly OK with how they look.

    .....One weekday afternoon in front of the auditorium at Venice High School, 16-year-old Ivonne Lopez was hanging out with a couple of friends, waiting for her ride home. "The girls who wear tight clothing," she said, "well, it's kind of hard not to. This is because everywhere you look, this is the only type of clothing available…. The only clothes that are cute and pretty are the ones that are tight. This makes me feel bad because I feel the fashion industry forgot what being a normal size was."

    Her instinct is correct: According to a study of more than 6,300 women by Cynthia Istook, an associate professor of apparel design and technology at North Carolina State University, only 8% of American women actually have the hourglass-shaped body that the apparel industry uses as its standard. Istook found that most women (66%) are either shaped like rectangles (the waist is closer to the circumference of the bust and hips) or pears (hips are larger than the bust by 2 inches or more).

    .....His friend Daniel Treibatch, also 19, pinpoints the disconnect between the images the culture hurls at young women and what young women really look like. "I see it every day on the streets. These girls see what is stereotypical in L.A. — all the advertisements and all the girls on TV — and they want to emulate what they see."

This element of advertising - Satan's work- can't be overemphasized. When I was in Cuba (in 1998) I was actually impressed that so many of the women down there were unapologetic about their 'overabundance'. The Cuban women dressed in tight, body revealing dresses and revelled in their curvaceousness (boisterously and, given the mutiple opportunities to dance to all that fantastic music, frequently so!).  Of course, the fact that Cuba is a popular destiniation for sex tourism is one depressing factor. But being out of the capitalist loop was surely another.  The fact there was not a single speck of advertising down there was a welcome relief . It must help keep nationwide anorexia at bay.  Save for the omnipresent images of Che and the socialist sloganeering, there was not one image of one skinny blonde hawking one product on one billboard anywhere to be found. (Another depressing factor? No free press, no advertising).  This eerie absence of something I had grown up with all my life gave me an instant sense of relief. And with it an instant sense of freedom. Freedom from the brainwashing that encourages us all to conform to some idealized version of not only beauty but  "lifestyle'.  Which now makes me wonder if the Sausage Casing Girls should perhaps be applauded. Let's at the very least applaud this young Angeleno who is quoted at the end of the article:

    ......Blanca Perez is a self-confident 26-year-old Los Angeles County animal control officer who is 5 feet, 8 inches and 230 pounds. "There is such a thing as a cute fat chick," she said, "and that's me."


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