I’ve already accepted the fact that the fashion industry is around to humiliate me. I accepted this sometime around age twelve, when I realized that overalls, while momentarily in fashion (it was 1994), made everyone look like the Michelin man — fleshy and lumpy and poking out in the wrong places. Most recently, it’s skinny jeans that exist to taunt me, and I’m afraid they’re around to stay.
I read an article in the Village Voice in November (read more) that claimed that you don’t have to be rail thin to wear the skinny jean — you can’t be overweight, but you can be greater than heroin emaciated. As I fall somewhere between overweight and emaciated, and have never worn a size in the double digits, I figured, hell, they’re so hot right now! I work in music! I want to try some skinny jeans! I’d seen girl after girl flounce through Manhattan’s East Village with her skin-tight tapered denims and I wanted to join the drainpipe-clad masses.
After trying on at least five pairs of different brands I realized that the Voice article is a huge lie. I don’t care how dark the wash is: If you weigh more than 100 pounds, skinny jeans will be about as flattering as a sumo wrestler’s thong. After trying to wear skinny jeans and failing miserably, I started looking more closely at those denim-clad Lower East Siders: When I actually looked up into their faces, most of the skinny jeans wearers were just girly men, not girls.
It all made sense when I saw the Strokes play live at Fuse TV. Besides being all giddy and schoolgirlish at the prospect of being a mere ten feet away from Fab, what struck me was how ridiculously skinny they are. Fab is sort of normal thin, and Julian is definitely a mesomorph, someone with an average stature. But Albert, Nikolai, and especially Nick (gasp! Nick) are all so skinny that they’ve affected a sort of Victorian frailty. Nick has long hair and aquiline features, and the outfit he was wearing that night — a drapey jacket and of course, skinny jeans — only accentuated his tiny frame.
I have no idea if the Strokes eat healthily — I imagine Fab does because Drew Barrymore’s all macrobiotic — but Nick and Nikolai look like they subsist entirely on cigarettes and adulation. Then I started thinking about the skinny guys in other local bands. The boys in Ambulance LTD are nearly opaque they’re so skinny; We Are Scientists are gangly like real scientists; Detachment Kit is bony as all get out. Is there a Y-chromosome gene that includes both thinness and guitar proficiency? Unless it’s a remarkable coincidence, these manorexics aren’t getting three square meals a day.
Not that healthiness has ever been a paramount virtue in the rockstar’s life. Maybe we’re going to need an intervention for these boys soon, start enticing them with burgers and pizza. Regardless of whether rockstar skinniness is hereditary, all I know is they can work the skinny jeans — and I’m no longer trying.