I own a thin, cotton, beige pair of what some people would call ‘dad shorts’.
They sport six pockets – two at the front, two at the back and two at the bottom enclosed by Velcro straps; a needlessly long drawstring that I carelessly tuck inside but which often falls down my leg and peeks at the outside world from underneath the rim; and a waistband so flexible it would put an Olympic gymnast to shame.
I love them. They are my son. In fact, I love all my shorts and all of them are like children to me. Even the denim pair which has a habit of irritatingly sliding up my ass is the prodigal son I can’t help but forgive and embrace.
For me, shorts aren’t just a piece of clothing. I’d like to bypass the cliché that they’re a lifestyle (they absolutely are though) and go one step further. I want to put forward the notion that shorts represent a brazen rejection of the oppressive mores of the ruling class.
The long and the short of it is that shorts are a fabric that transcend singular reductive definitions; they symbolise freedom, comfort and defiance.
Wearing shorts is a political act: it allows all people to experience the expansive liberty and unrivalled luxury commonplace for those in the bourgeois, whilst simultaneously rebelling against this brand of elitism. After all, what are shorts if not irreverent, unrestrictive and very slightly erotic – the antithesis of everything polite society holds sacred.
If we look to media and the public sphere we see attack after attack decrying shorts, in varied terms, as “awful” and an eyesore. Not only is this a misuse of the fourth estate, turning it into a vehicle for propaganda, it’s a grossly transparent attempt to discredit shorts as a legitimate choice of fashion.
This is also visible in the fact that shorts are all but barred from the corporate sphere – that all important functional command centre of the ruling class. Indeed, corporate attire is one of the ways the masses are literally placated.
Buttoned up shirts, neatly trimmed pants, even crumpled jeans demarcate those values of conformity and rigidity thrust upon the masses in order to suppress revolt. Perhaps the most glaring caveat of this is that these clothes obstruct your ability to literally run. They’re a fabric cage complete with polyester chains.
Shorts refuse to be restrictive in such a way. They give you the freedom to run and to climb and to crawl and to do things much greater than others would care to tell you is possible. There’s no shortage of options when you wear them. When you sit on a field in a pair of shorts and the grass caresses your leg, it’s a connection to nature and to an earth which you belong to, just as much as anybody else. Standing atop a hill, the cool breeze which dances its way into your legs and tickles your thighs are the winds of revolution.