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Rob Jenkins - 07/19/09
Boys' wear departments big on fashion

Dear Shaquille O'Neal,

I thought you might like to know that I found the guys who stole your clothes. They were at the Stonecrest Mall in Conyers, Ga., last Saturday. Since they're teenagers, chances are they'll be back next Saturday, if you want to catch them red-handed.

I knew immediately the clothes had to belong to you. Even though both guys were fairly tall, there's no way those outfits were theirs. One had on jeans that were at least five sizes too large in the waist, and the way they bunched up on his shoes, I knew they'd easily fit a 7-footer.

The other was wearing something that looked like shorts, except they hung to the tops of his sneakers. Guys my age sometimes wear slacks that aren't that long. He also had on a T-shirt that, as a dress, would have been modest by any standard.

Anyway, I figured they must have swiped those items from your clothesline. If you decide you want them back, you're welcome in Conyers any time. On your way, please swing through Atlanta and sign with the Hawks. They could use someone big enough to fill those jeans - not to mention Phillips Arena.

Sincerely,

A Fan

Is it just me, or have you noticed that teenage boys' clothes are getting larger and larger, even as girls' clothes get smaller and smaller?

I think we've stumbled upon a new and previously unknown law of physics: that denim is neither created nor destroyed. It's simply transferred, perhaps by molecular osmosis, from the "juniors" department to young men's.

What's behind this alarming and rather bizarre trend? For girls, I think the answer is that it's much easier to look sexy (or "hot," in the current teenage vernacular) than to actually be attractive.

That is, any relatively young woman in a state of near undress will appeal to some percentage of the male population, regardless of her objective beauty. That would certainly explain Paris Hilton's 15 minutes of fame.

For boys, though, the issue is more complex. Current trends in boys' clothes can be traced back to the 1960s, when it first became fashionable to identify with the working class by wearing course clothing, such as blue jeans and flannel shirts. Ironically, around that same time it also became fashionable not to work.

This rough style survived the dark disco years of the '70s (unlike half my high school graduating class) to re-emerge in the grunge-rock and hip-hop cultures of the '80s and '90s. Today the style has been reinvented yet again, in grotesquely exaggerated proportions.

Of course, what girls and boys fashions have in common is that, for one reason or another, both show lots of backside. I agree with "Opus" cartoonist Berke Brethed, who once called for Federal legislation to counter this trend.

We could call it the "No Child's Left OR Right Behind" act.