Humor is all in the eye of the beholder, especially where thighs are concerned. To wit, Ms. magazine and a small children’s wear company called Wry Baby have been engaged in a public tiff over baby thighs.
Wry Baby offers snapsuits—their term for onesies—with messages intended to be humorous. Ms. has been up in arms over a purple snapsuit that reads, “I hate my thighs.”
Ms. blogger Michele Kort writes, “The snapsuit comes in purple—a neutral color in the rigid boy-girl binary—but does anyone think this is designed for a boy? Really, have you ever heard a man or boy say that they hate their thighs?”
Now, I disagree with Kort’s contention that purple is a neutral color. In my mind, it is very much a girl-specific color, especially where baby clothing is concerned. I also suspect that most parents and clothing manufacturers would agree with me.
So Men and Women Have Different Body Issues
Kort’s contention that men don’t have body image issues also seems wrong-headed, since “The rate of eating disorders among college men ranges from 4-10%.” Further, “large scale surveys concluded that male body image concerns have dramatically increased over the past three decades from 15% to 43% of men being dissatisfied with their bodies; rates that are comparable to those found in women.”
That said, Kort is right that the focus on thinness does seem to be lopsidedly female; most men worry that they need to bulk up. And men are also unlikely to worry about whether they have a “thigh gap.” However, the real question is: Is there anything sadder than scrawny baby thighs? Chicken legs with scant meat perhaps, but that’s less sad than frustrating, especially when you’re hungry.
Let’s Celebrate Baby Fat
As a mother, I have felt very blessed to have two daughters whose baby thighs have been deliciously squeezable. My husband and I have regularly cooed to them about their “juicy pulkies” and joked that we’ll eat them right up. For those unfamiliar with Yiddish, Urban Dictionary defines pulkies as “Fat baby thighs whose squishability is infinite.” It’s the infinite squishability that makes pulkies so charming and babies so delightful to cuddle.
So, I can’t imagine ever dressing my infant daughter in anything like this “I hate my thighs” snapsuit. (It seems I’m not the only one; Wry Baby announced Wednesday that they will no longer sell this snapsuit.) I love my baby’s thighs, and when she’s old enough to have thoughts on the subject, I hope she will too.
For now though, there remains the question of why Ms. was so offended. Kort writes, “There’s something icky about projecting fat awareness on babies. It’s not the babies who will be forced to become aware of their avoirdupois—it’s grownups who will be reminded that wider-than-sticks thighs are something hateable rather than loveable.”
Consider the Children
Again, as a mother, I’m not worried about the adults. Adults are old enough to handle their own emotional turmoil. I worry more about my preschooler, who poses endless questions, asks to be read everything in sight, and is starting to independently sound out words. I have no interest in teaching her to be self-conscious about, or critical of, her own body, and I don’t aspire to have a kindergartner worried about whether she’s sexy.
In that one sense, I agree with Kort: I just don’t find the “ironic” snapsuit humorous. Wry Baby’s “positive” version, “Love Me For My Leg Rolls,” strikes me as only marginally better. It includes the word love, rather than hate, but referring to pulkies as “leg rolls” still feels derogatory, rather than adoring.
It may be that Wry Baby’s humor will never connect with parents like me. But if they really wanted to sell more body-positive humor I’d appreciate, they might consider introducing a snapsuit for both boys and girls that joyously shouts, “My pulkies are juicy!”