Is it now considered weird for a male to be in public without a shirt?
September 8, 2023 6:09 PM   Subscribe

I feel like mores around this may have changed while I wasn't paying attention. So, my simple question is, on an extremely hot day, is it weird to walk a pet around the neighborhood without wearing a shirt?
posted by Jon44 to Human Relations (83 answers total)
About the only men I see outside without shirts anymore are either running or swimming.
posted by noloveforned at 6:14 PM on September 8 [11 favorites]

I don't think I've seen anyone walking their dog without a shirt on in my neighborhood recently, so just in terms of "is it common," I would say it is unusual in my area. But it wouldn't strike me as "weird as in wtf is your deal" if one of my male neighbors did this.

I am a woman who walks my dog without a bra sometimes (but with a shirt) and probably some of my neighbors think that's weird though, so grain of salt and all that.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:21 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]

As long as the pet is a dog I think it's not weird enough to be notable.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:28 PM on September 8 [8 favorites]

I was just wondering the same thing. 30+ years ago this was very common and now exceedingly rare outside of the beach or a very serious runner on a very hot day. I do wonder if it might vary by region?
posted by chocotaco at 6:29 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

Broadly speaking, I'd consider it weird. Unlike noloveforned, I do see men hanging on out stoops or the sidewalk shirtless sometimes, but that doesn't count as "in public". Other than that, it's largely while engaging in sport, exercise or at the beach.

When I lived in Minneapolis, the other exception would be "while in transit", i.e. while walking or cycling somewhere. I can't tell you how "I'm walking because there's no bus/it didn't come/I don't have bus fare" is different from walking the dog, but it is, somehow. [To be clear, I don't think that's some odd thing unique to Minneapolis, though it does differ from NYC.]
posted by hoyland at 6:30 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]

Perhaps these days people are more aware of the need to protect themselves from skin cancer.
posted by SPrintF at 6:30 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: "As long as the pet is a dog.."
Well, in fact, the pet is an unleashed cat who kind of runs around in my general vicinity as I walk, so I suppose that adds to the weirdness factor right off the bat.
posted by Jon44 at 6:30 PM on September 8 [88 favorites]

I was just wondering the same thing. 30+ years ago this was very common and now exceedingly rare

Mayhap also the obesity epidemic played a role? e.g. more people covering up due to insecurities, therefor less folks in general walking around shirtless?
posted by slater at 6:32 PM on September 8 [7 favorites]

I live in a university town. The only men I see shirtless in a public setting anymore are joggers, and those are either the hardcore runners or the men with sculpted bodies.
posted by Stuka at 6:32 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]

Who can afford that much sunscreen in this economy?
posted by staggernation at 6:50 PM on September 8 [16 favorites]

US-centric question, I thought. SPrintF's point about skin cancer is certainly a factor. My immediate reaction, however, was thinking of China, and how the guys there roll their shirts up and let their bellies hang out, to stay cool; and then I found this BBC news item from just before Covid: No more Beijing bikini: Chinese city calls topless men 'uncivilized'.
posted by Rash at 6:50 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

To me, it’s weird. I was ready to dismiss my thoughts on it because I’m old, but with people saying it used to be common, I have to weigh in and say I have no memory of that ever being normal. Exception would be people running. I’ve lived my whole adult life in college towns.
posted by FencingGal at 7:01 PM on September 8 [13 favorites]

Since the pet is an unleashed cat, now I sorta think you are obligated to walk it shirtless. You have a reputation to uphold!

But, seriously, outside of vigorous outdoor exercise, I would probably look a little askance at a dude not wearing a shirt. I wouldn't think of it as creepy, just an "interesting" choice.
posted by brookeb at 7:03 PM on September 8 [8 favorites]

I think of it as very 1970s.
posted by lapis at 7:05 PM on September 8 [30 favorites]

As long as the pet is a dog I think it's not weird enough to be notable.

I had a neighbor once who would sit out in the sun, shirtless, with his pet lizard on his shoulder. So there's the mutual basking option if you are into that.

I agree, you see it less now than in the past. I don't know what the underlying reasons are, but it is noticeable. (Like, when I was a kid gym was gender-separated, and for the boys sports would get divided up "shirts vs skins" and that was normalized. But I doubt that is done now for all kinds of good reasons.) These days, I see an occasional shirtless jogger but not a lot. I never see shirtless dog walkers.

In my lifetime, it used to be way more common. Things like men mowing the lawn shirtless, frisbee/volleyball, picnics, etc. But I also had to shower naked in communal showers at school from elementary into high school, which I gather is rare these days, too. Norms have definitely changed.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:09 PM on September 8 [13 favorites]

Well, in fact, the pet is an unleashed cat who kind of runs around in my general vicinity as I walk

Bruh, that's just walking shirtless with extra steps.

I see men walking shirtless in my neighborhood occasionally. (The two alcoholics around the corner from me.)
posted by phunniemee at 7:21 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

Austin checking in: yes I see shirtless men walking their pets fairly often, but a lot more joggers and runners are shirtless. Today's temperature 105°. I see most of these guys right after dawn or at sunset.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:29 PM on September 8

It was always weird.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:41 PM on September 8 [17 favorites]

Yes, less common. See: shirts and skins at the gym.
I would gather you don't see dad's hanging out their house shirtless as much either
posted by sandmanwv at 7:45 PM on September 8

You add the cat detail and it's clear this guy is just super weird: either he's out of touch with social norms (awkward but forgivable), dying for attention (not bad but eww) or truly doesn't care (rare but possible.) I think of this friend of a friend, a rich Canadian guy living an early retirement along the Riviera Maya whose daily life consists of hours and hours at the gym, hours of tanning, and walking up and down the tourist strip of his chosen home, shirtless, carrying his tiny dog. It was quite a sight to see, mostly because the whole thing was beyond bizarre. He was super friendly to talk to but also didn't seem particularly interested in deep connections. This is definitely not the way I'd want to live my life but it wasn't hurting anyone and it seemed to make him content. Massive muscles be damned, I definitely found his pup way more intriguing.

I'd definitely be more distracted by this man's cat than his body. I can understand why someone would walk around shirtless in this crazy weather. I wouldn't necessarily like it but I'm sure some people don't like it when I work out in what could be considered a glorified sports bra. However, I don't bring my cats with me the gym so that detail is different. I sure wish I could take them on leashless walks so do let us know this guy's secrets should you ever converse!
posted by smorgasbord at 7:59 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

For what it’s worth, my husband walks the dog (or sometimes our toddler in a stroller, with or without the dog) and takes his shirt off if it’s very hot. This has been in two hot weather cities where it wasn’t uncommon to see shirtless runners or men hanging out outside or doing yard work etc. with no shirts on.
posted by MadamM at 8:00 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]

I would not think twice about the shirtlessness. (I'm in my mid 50s, live in a large city.)

The cat thing is pretty weird, though.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:01 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]

I haven't thought about it until recently when I saw a man walking down a street with no shirt on and then it struck me that I don't see that very much anymore. I think it is weird now - the older guys who did it are starting to age out of it and the younger guys aren't taking up the slack, so to speak.
posted by urbanlenny at 8:04 PM on September 8 [6 favorites]

I'm in an urban setting (DC area) and I've seen a few men walking/running shirtless on the various trails here. Rarely on the main streets/city strip, though, and don't live in the suburbs, so can't say, but it's never been an issue here from what I can tell.
posted by dubious_dude at 8:13 PM on September 8

My ex-husband did it exactly once, while we were walking around our hood, and even close to 20 years ago in NYC in the doggiest days of summer it was weird. He had the classic road cyclist skinny upper body and very pale skin color with the requisite tan lines, and I guess in retrospect I admire his commitment to keeping it off for the remainder of our stroll.

I’m not really qualified to weigh in on current levels of shirtlessness here.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:15 PM on September 8

Going shirtless outside is less common than years ago as far as I can tell. Anecdotally it seems to be mostly confined to younger men exercising or showing off their bodies. What I don't see a lot of anymore are men working in their yard or out for a casual stroll while not wearing a shirt (and when I do see them the men are generally middle-aged or older).

Whether being shirtless has now become weird is a different question as "weirdness" is a value judgement, both by the shirtless person and the observer.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:24 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]

The cat thing wouldn’t be that weird in my neighborhood, honestly. There are a few cats that walk their kids to the bus stop.

Guys exercise shirtless but when we saw a shirtless short-shorts guy with his fully clothed family on a recent afternoon, we cracked up. He’d probably just come from a run, but it stood out. However, it wasn’t like LOOK AT THAT ASSHOLE.

Finally, if you were a friendly neighborhood person who went for Stupid Little Mental Health Walks shirtless with a cat, you’d become Shirtless Cat Guy by name. You wouldn’t be shunned.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:28 PM on September 8 [8 favorites]

Also if it were 15 years ago, my slightly odd toddler would have yelled out the car window at you, “HALF-NAKED!” That was a long summer.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:29 PM on September 8 [11 favorites]

My son in law does it all.the.time and it creeps me right the hell out. It’s quite uncommon nowadays, I think, and particularly so here in the PNW. My feeling is, if I have to wear a shirt then so do those amab. It’s a basic social contract: I’ll keep my unshaven armpits and weird back bumps to myself, please return the favor with your hairy chest and giant freaky nipples.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:33 PM on September 8 [16 favorites]

I feel like this is going to be a "specific local culture" thing, but to help you collect anecdata, I can't think offhand of the last time I saw someone other than a runner going casually shirtless outside of a specific location or event where the toplessness was part of the thing. (Pool, pride parade, etc.)

Actually that's a lie, I just remembered yesterday when I was taking a walk I saw a shirtless guy up on a ladder doing some kind of home repair, so add "guy doing manual labor on a hot day" to that list. But it was unusual enough for me to have taken note of it!
posted by Stacey at 8:34 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

Locally it’s unusual, even for runners. (I’m on the running path almost every day so I observe this.) The runners I do see shirtless have that hardcore, aging yuppie, marathon culture, superfit, short shorts flat sneakers middle aged guy look. Outside of a specific athletic pursuit I think most people would perceive it as “not fully dressed” and experience a wide variety of reactions ranging from not batting an eye to feeling uncomfortable.
posted by kapers at 8:42 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]

My elderly female relatives in North Carolina would like to inform Metafilter that a) it’s way too common, and b) nobody wants to see a c-cup man boob out there. Me, I’m not into body shaming, and I believe we Murricans are way too puritan.
posted by acridrabbit at 8:55 PM on September 8 [8 favorites]

Around the house and even in the backyard, yea, I will go shirtless all the time if it's hot. But I've lived long enough to know that if I tried to go around the block with the dog, something completely unexpected will happen, making me regret that I didn't have a shirt on. So I just put on a shirt and avoid the potential regret.
posted by ambulocetus at 9:54 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

I just walked 3 miles in a sports bra in my suburban neighborhood (although I would not do so during the day.) a man walking without a shirt is not weird. Walking a cat however is weird.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:18 PM on September 8

Weird is not the word I'd use - foolhardy is more likely. I think people are just more aware of skin cancer and what UV does to your skin than they did in the past.
posted by Jilder at 11:04 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]

I'm in London. Whenever there's the slightest whisper of summer weather, men take off their shirts. I associate this mostly with lads, i.e. 18-35, with or trying to impress women, sometimes just blissfully unaware and unbothered.

I grew up in rural Arkansas. Super common in the same social/age group then and now. I think the moderating factor in the South is having somewhere to go. Nowhere in cities or suburbs will easily accommodate a shirtless, sweaty person. In a small town where everyone hangs out in the shade of the one out of order car wash bay at the one gas station? No shirt, no shoes, no problems, in the words of one country singer.

I lived in West LA for a long time. Also super common there, and in Southern California coastal towns in general. For obvious reasons, but not just at the beach.

I also lived in DC for a long time. Almost unheard of there unless you're at the park.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:23 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]

I see a fair amount of shirtless men, but like acidrabbit's elderly relatives, I'm also in North Carolina. Mostly jogging/cycling/skateboarding/playing sports at parks etc, but sometimes just walking or hanging out.

I live in a college town, so this doesn't exactly apply to me, but I do think the closer you are to a beach and/or swimmable body of water in a warm place the more lax things tend to get with regards to men without shirts.
posted by thivaia at 11:23 PM on September 8’d become Shirtless Cat Guy...
posted by chesty_a_arthur

Oh, the eponystery!
posted by y2karl at 12:44 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]

Yes, it's uncommon. It's never been very common. However, if you were shirtless while fishing, I would not bat an eye.

(I'm going to assume that you live in a semi-rural area in a small country in Europe, because that is where I live and you've not given any pointers to your location.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:15 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]

Not super uncommon in Georgia, USA. High humidity means shirts very quickly get soaked with sweat that never evaporates.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:50 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

Very common where I live, usually with the shirt flung over one shoulder in case it’s needed. I’m surprised that it’s uncommon elsewhere, it’s just such a normal part of life here.
posted by Bottlecap at 4:27 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]

The last time I remember regularly seeing shirtless men was in 1970s California. I've lived in a college town for the last 35 years and it's always been a very rare sight, even among the students. Only runners and guys mowing lawns, basically, and it stands out when they do it, but I wouldn't say it's weird. I've been out walking a dog three times a day for decades and for sure none of the other dog walkers are ever shirtless, and I have to admit I would find that super weird, maybe because it has more to do with me than do joggers and mowers of lawns? I don't know.
posted by HotToddy at 4:32 AM on September 9

Coastal North Carolina - see men shirtless and women in sportsbras all the time, not to mention bathing suits. It’s hot here. I hate wearing a shirt and opt for cutoff tees or tanks whenever I actually have to wear one. Another vote for “shirtless guy wouldn’t be weird; walking a cat would be weird.”

*Edited “but” to “not” because of my inability to type correctly.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 5:09 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]

This completely depends on what part of the world you live in. Here in Northeast Florida no one would bat an eye.
posted by saladin at 5:09 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling this is a regional thing. I live in the southern US and wouldn't think twice about seeing a guy walking around shirtless. It's common enough that I wouldn't notice it. Thinking about it, it doesn't seem to be based on age either.
posted by Saucy Possum at 5:10 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I'm in Toronto, Canada, and it wouldn't seem weird or unusual to me. But the men who did it when I was a kid in the 80s were in much worse shape than the men that do it now so I think the motivation behind it has changed.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:21 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]

Wear a shirt. It irritates me that men can walk around like that. It's a tiny visual reminder of male privilege and if that sounds ridiculous, I don't care.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:42 AM on September 9 [29 favorites]

Somehow I forgot about the Tan Man at the University of Kansas in the 1980s. Hung out by Wescoe Hall all day every day wearing green shorts and no shirt. He did this year round and worked nights as a hospital janitor so he could spend his days in the sun. His back looked terrible and we all speculated about skin cancer. Numerous articles online. Yes we thought he was weird - but in that beloved campus character way, like Shaky Jake in Ann Arbor. One article I found online said he moved back to Lawrence because the police in Corpus Christi hassled him so much.
posted by FencingGal at 5:43 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]

BTW my own reaction to a shirtless male outside isn’t so much “weird” as “gross.” The exception is swimming. No exceptions for body type. I’m not saying I’m objectively correct and none of us knows how representative we are, unless someone here is a secret data scientist studying this - but if you’re interested in reactions, that’s mine.

If women can wear shirts (in addition to bras!) in hot weather, so can men.
posted by FencingGal at 6:07 AM on September 9 [9 favorites]

I certainly can't recall seeing a shirtless guy around here (rural Massachusetts) although I do not personally think it is weird or especially notable, so I'm not sure I'm a great bellwether. Certainly fifteen years ago in Austin shirts were pretty much optional for men in warm weather, but Austin had a pretty clothing-optional culture, down to the nude beach.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:11 AM on September 9

I wouldn’t say it’s common where I live but if I see it I’m probably not even consciously noticing it (unless they are attractive.)

The widespread prevalence (even outside of beach towns) of “no shoes, no shirt, no service” signs seems to me an indication that at some point in the not-too-distant past this was more of a common thing.

Also, to all the people calling it “male privilege”—it definitely is, but it’s also entirely legal for AFAB people to walk around topless in NYC. I saw at least two in my 15+ years there, so it does happen, as well.
posted by rhymedirective at 6:12 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]

Legal does indeed equal a privilege.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:17 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]

I wouldn't even notice.. well, actually, I'd notice the cat.
posted by elgee at 6:43 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I mean men do, but I wish they wouldn't. I'm never excited when a shirtless man runs or walks past me on the sidewalk. It's uncomfortable and sometimes they are extremely sweaty, then suddenly we have to share space on the corner to cross the street or whatever and I didn't want to be near an unclothed stranger, I didn't ask for it. Also legally, if I have to wear a flipping shirt you should too.
posted by wellifyouinsist at 7:22 AM on September 9 [12 favorites]

The shirtless dudes I see are either jogging or smoking weed.

Lbr you already know that you haven't seen other shirtless dudes walking cats in your neighbourhood. If you want that to be your vibe, go for it!
posted by betweenthebars at 7:33 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

Austin, Texas, where it is very hot and all genders may legally go topless.

It is not all that common to see men who are not exercising or working go shirtless. I think it was once a little more accepted but not particularly beloved.
posted by bug138 at 7:35 AM on September 9

South Florida: Shirtless, not weird (or at least not weirder than anything else going on around here). Walking a cat, kind of weird.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:41 AM on September 9

In Manhattan NYC it’s not unusual to see a shirtless jogger in one of the parks. On city sidewalks if you see a shirtless man he will most likely be young, very fit and African American.
posted by slkinsey at 7:52 AM on September 9

Used to be very normal when I was growing up in NYC in a working class neighborhood, but it is now not normal, I noticed my male partner always puts on a shirt to go outside which I found weird until I realized that yeah, I don’t really see a lot of shirtless men these days.

I think society is just less okay with exposed flesh these days? I also find that there is less cleavage considered acceptable than there was in my youth as well.
posted by corb at 7:52 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

Legal does indeed equal a privilege.

I meant it as an interesting fact, not to say that its existence negates the privilege. Can we please assume good faith of people?
posted by rhymedirective at 8:14 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

In suburban Central New Jersey, if I see a shirtless guy, it's almost guys running in parks. Generally it's extremely swole younger guys running. Occasionally, it's less muscular, thin younger guys running. The middle age shirtless runner exists, but is quite rare in my experience. I feel like the number of shirtless guys I see running parks is actually increasing, and I'm in my local parks a lot as a birder. Shirtless park runners are more common than shirtless street runners.

The middle age shirtless lawnmower can sometimes be spotted, although my personal thought on that one is if it's so hot I need to take my shirt off to mow the lawn, mowing can wait.
posted by mollweide at 8:35 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

For anecdata, I rode roughly the entire length of the Bx13 bus today, twice. It goes through a mix of residential and commercial areas, with most of the route through Highbridge in the Bronx. It's only 80F right now, but was fairly humid earlier. The count was four shirtless men, two of whom weren't wearing shoes, a third sitting in the stoop with another man smoking and the fourth walking across what is apparently the Washington Bridge (presumably wearing shoes, but I saw him only briefly).

I saw no one running (though one woman walking home from either a run or a fitness walk as I was going to the bus) and one woman cycling wearing a sports bra and no shirt. Oh, and one man walking with his shirt technically on, but with one arm out of the sleeve, so it was most on his other shoulder.
posted by hoyland at 8:57 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I would describe it as "an interesting choice" to be shirtless while just walking around, but it's hard to isolate because the typical out-and-about shirtless dude often is simultaneously making other interesting choices, tbh walking with a cat being an example of one .

Usual contexts I see dudes shirtless are when doing work on/around their property or while running/cycling or looking like they are on their way to/from some sort of sport-like activity, or while stationary for tanning purposes. I feel like the age distribution is younger folks (often for sports reasons) and older folks, and significantly less middle aged dudes.
posted by firefly5 at 9:43 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I would hazard from living and visiting a few different places that not only is this regional but it likely correlates to whether you're near a beach. I feel like shirtless dudes in beachy towns is very normal, and in random suburbia it's mostly fitness bro types.
posted by Lady Li at 9:53 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

When I was young it seemed normal for shirtless guys to be out in public, because they could. Now, in general, I don't want to see that, except for around swimming areas and the like, and I rarely do.
posted by metonym at 11:15 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]

I live in a small city in coastal New England, and I used to see shirtless guys of all ages and varying levels of physical fitness -- ranging from "not so you'd notice" to "buffed out" -- walking on the downtown streets as soon as temperatures climbed over, say, 56 degrees Fahrenheit in March or April. Now, not so much.

This demographic never coincided with the city's cat walkers, who, over my 20-plus years here, have included two fully dressed people, both women.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was one of them. We unintentionally and briefly became entertainment for small children when my friend's cat (RIP Timmy) decided to take a nap under a parked pickup truck and I had to coax him out.
posted by virago at 11:57 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]

Very normal where I am, but then again I live in the UK where people cannot distinguish heat from light and lose their cottonpicking minds whenever the sun comes out.
Interestingly, while thinking about this I realised that while it's not remotely odd to see a guy out and about with his shirt tucked into his belt or a back pocket, it is somewhat unusual to see one without a shirt on his person at all. That somehow feels like more of a deliberate sartorial choice rather than "whoo, time to cool off," I guess.
posted by BlueNorther at 12:16 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]

Here in Northeast Florida no one would bat an eye.

Ha, I was going to say when I used to live in the Florida panhandle, it was pretty common, but things may have changed...guess not. I do think the super hot, sunny, incredibly humid weather + proximity to beaches/other bodies of water made it more common.

I live in the Northeast now, and it's mostly just runners, people doing yardwork...and even then, it's not actually that common. But I think it would seem odd to me if I saw someone just sort of chilling in downtown without a shirt on. I wouldn't be like offended or anything, but it would seem unexpected.

So I guess my vote is this really depends on where you live.
posted by litera scripta manet at 12:19 PM on September 9

The multiuse path wedged between the road and beach near my house is a popular place to walk pets and will see topless males pretty much any day sunny over 25 or so. There is also at least one female presenting person1 in their 20s usually on a long board who I see occasionally. The people sometimes are with a dog and other times just perambulating. One also sees the occasional leashed cat and one couple with a fairly large bird. Never seen someone with a free roaming cat though unless they were striding along close I might not notice, lots of outdoor cats in the neighbourhood.

[1] Legal in my country but very unusual.
posted by Mitheral at 12:40 PM on September 9

There's a guy in my hometown who has become (in)famous for walking around shirtless. And hairy. And in great shape.

They just asked him to throw out the first pitch at a Milwaukee Brewers game.

Behold- Milverine!
posted by Tunierikson at 12:44 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]

I feel like I definitely see dudes walking around shirtless when they are coming directly from exercise of some sort. I live very near a park that has a running track, so I see a Lot of this. I don't think I'd look twice at it.

For what it's worth, re: walking pets, my partner will walk the dog with his shirt draped over his shoulder or such if he's walking her right after the gym.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:40 PM on September 9

The only men I see shirtless these days are very fit college students jogging in frat packs.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 4:53 PM on September 9

I see it frequently with mowing. I'd assume you were on your way to or from yardwork.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:07 PM on September 9

I think it is a lot less common now because people usually throw on a shirt to protect themselves from the sun, as it is easier to throw on a shirt than sunscreen.

I think male upper body nudity in public peaked awhile ago, probably more than thirty, maybe forty years ago. I think this had its peak in the seventies.

The last time I saw a shirtless guy not at the beach/pool/in his own home was probably about 1994 and it was odd enough I remembered it.

I suspect part of why the custom is fading has to do with there being a smaller percentage of young and pretty people who don't have body anxieties about exposing their upper body to other people's judgement. I think guys are a lot more likely to be ashamed of their body now than they used to be. The standards for acceptable looking torso changed when weight-lifting came in as a big thing, and got much more restrictive. Guys started to want to look like Arnold or Sylvester. And then Men's Life started showing buff torsos at every magazine stand... and it is so bad that they make artificial buff torsos for male actors to wear in movies. Your average nice looking guy will be comparing himself to that and keeping his shirt on.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:53 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]

I agree that the prevalence has decreased but is the rise of moisture wicking clothes also contributing? Soaking wet cotton t-shirts are unpleasant to wear and while dri-fit stuff isn’t a panacea it is orders of magnitude better.
posted by mmascolino at 8:16 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]

For peak shirtless dudes, might I recommend Heavy Metal Parking Lot.
posted by brookeb at 10:41 PM on September 9 [4 favorites]

Just walking around shirtless? Never see it. Beach/fitness/etc contexts yes.

I don’t recall that it was common for men to go shirtless outside of those contexts, back in the day. In my neighborhoods growing up (70s & 80s), boys, up to about high school, practically went all summer without a shirt, in every context we could get away with.
posted by notyou at 7:42 AM on September 10

Agreed -- in the US it's not men, but boys who went through a shirtless phase, extending summer as long as possible -- they also wore shorts, even in winter. Not so common today, maybe for Jane The Brown's reasons. For an 80s example see Sean Penn and his surfer buddies in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
posted by Rash at 8:01 AM on September 10

I would raise an eyebrow and possibly cross the street, because it's unusual where I live (Seattle-ish). Even on the trail or at a track it's uncommon, and it isn't allowed at my gym. It feels attention-seeking.

Plus I would be resentful that you can get away with it where I -- a woman -- would have all kinds of problems if I did the same.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:43 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]

I agree that this has changed significantly over time. In the 1960s & 70s, I remember boys and young men being shirtless in public during the summer being much more common than it is today. I lived in New England at the time. The sign "No Shirt/No service" was created because of how common being shirtless was.
posted by hworth at 8:10 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]

I think of it as very 1970s.

Yes. I think the "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" sign came out around then and was meant to keep out shoeless, shirtless hippies.
posted by ojocaliente at 2:08 AM on September 11

( I should have read the post above mine before answering... )
posted by ojocaliente at 6:07 AM on September 11

So completely normal here in the UK as soon as there is even a whiff of warmer weather there is even a website to tell you if it's tops on or off today:
posted by goo at 12:46 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

« Older Help me game out my manual car future   |   Looking for advice about moving to Tokyo Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments