Monday, October 19, 2009

The Uppity Negro Asks.. Is It Okay for Young Black Men To Wear Skinny Jeans?

[Editor's Note: AverageNation™ Week begins with The Uppity Negro, who wonders if skinny jeans are a bad thing.]

Last week was my birthday and since I couldn’t make my trip to Washington, D.C. for Howard’s Homecoming as I had planned (because I just got my refund check) so I settled for heading out to see a homeboy in Birmingham. Given that this was my birthday week I had done a bit of mall shopping and as a result I had bought some fitted tees from Abercrombie and Fitch and had found some fitted jeans earlier at this spot in Little Five Points out here in Atlanta. So I got out the car and my friend busted out laughing when he saw what I had on.

Don’t get me twisted, he knows how to dress, the typical sophisticated urban wear, but still most of his clothes are loose fitting, but still fit his clothes—that is to say you’d NEVER see him wearing the XXXL type stuff and wearing jeans sagging down to his knees. Nonetheless he busted out laughing and simply said “I guess I aint been to Atlanta lately.”

Now any black male knows what that comment really meant.

No, my friend wasn’t questioning my sexuality, but that was an undergirding sentiment of the statement.

Here in Atlanta, and other parts of the northern Atlantic seaboard, what I had on wouldn’t even go part and parcel with my sexuality just because we’ve come that far with fashion in the black community. Since the late 80s and the 1990s blacks have gone back and forth through various stages of clothes that fit versus clothes that were oversized and didn’t fit. In the 2000s, and actually more recent since I’ve graduated from high school, I’ve noticed a shift at least among black males who classify as the “pretty boys” do this metrosexual shift and metrosexual is generally associated with clothes that actually fit your measurements.

I’m actually all for it. AverageBro and some of the AverageCommunity are aware of how I really was digging Andre 3000’s Benjamin Bixby clothing line, and I’ve been known to rock a bowtie often enough. I rather enjoy the fall because it gives me an excuse to rock the sweater/shirt and tie combos.

Don’t get me wrong, I can be biased as well when it comes to appearance, people need to look in the mirror when they put on clothes and see if certain outfits accent their figures—and that goes for males as well. And no this is not some underhanded dig at “thick chicks” or “big boys” but it goes for everyone. We all have different shapes. And even for me as a black male….**clears throat**….I discovered that just because I figured I was a certain jean size in Sean Jean or Girbaud’s that that size didn’t always transfer into jeans I bought at Abercrombie and Fitch or American Eagle.


…the question remains, are black males allowed to wear fitted or skinny jeans without their sexuality being in question?

I guess you could extend that question to all ideas of black male metrosexuals as far as having to defend their sexuality. As I see it, it’s partially the fault of some black females—and some from the older generation as well. They—the some black females and elders—that they didn’t like us—young black males--always wearing the big baggie white tees and pants “hangin’ off ya ass” and then when the fashions adapt, they question your sexuality.

I remember the first time I wore a pair of slim fitting slacks to church back in 2005 and my parents looked at me like I had lost my mind and suggested that I go back and change clothes and started praying for me out loud and I walked out the door. It took the consoling of some female friends who kinda gave me the look up and down and said I actually looked nice. Suffice it to say, there are some who are attracted to the look—then there are those who aren’t.

I was in Jacksonville this summer and the looks I got just from wearing the fitted jeans I had—not skinny jeans because there is a difference—but I thought it was interesting because of what I heard from the tween girls I had been going to see twice a week at a summer camp. By the end of the summer they felt comfortable enough to tell me they thought I was “fruity” (their words not mine) because of how I dressed, but then when I asked them about the clothes that the teen summer hit sensation New Boyz wore in the music video “You A Jerk” they had no real answer.

Or even Lil’ Wayne for that matter. (nsfw)

The way I see it, it boils down to our ideas of masculinity in this country. Still in the microcosm of the black community we still have broad ideas of what is masculinity (and femininity as well, but we’re talking about black males here today) is and how it should manifest itself. Never mind the fact that I’m in grad school working on a dual masters degree with the hope and intent of obtaining another one year masters degree before going on to Ph.D. work, or never mind the fact that I have my own car, got my own hustle more or less am dependent enough from my parents that I don’t have to call every two weeks for an allowance like I used to, never mind the fact that I do well in school….no, for America, my masculinity is heavily enraptured in my appearance.

Aside from homophobia that runs rampant in our community why are black males having to catch flak on this type of clothing. I mean there’s a young rapper out there who has titled song “Skinny Jeans Are Gay” and maybe this is where my uppity Negro status kicks in full time, but—ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!?!? Out of all the things to be worried about, you’re worried about someone else who took their own money and decided to buy their own clothes. I mean I guess it would be different if every black male you saw with skinny or fitted jeans on was a self-professed homosexual—but that’s not the case and no where near the case.

That being said…

Question: Do you think it’s okay for black males to rock the fitted jeans or the skinny jeans (yes there is a difference between the two)? Do issues of sexuality come to your mind when you see a black male wearing the skinny jeans or the fitted jeans—do you do the same when you see a young white skateboarder wearing the skinny jeans? If so, what’s the difference.

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