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SHRINKING SHORTS alarm climatologists

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Daniel Craig, as James Bond, gets wet in short shorts.

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sony pictures Daniel Craig, as James Bond, gets wet in short shorts.

LOS ANGELES -- Who wears short shorts? This summer, men wear short shorts, according to a delightful fashion dispatch from the Wall Street Journal's David Coleman. "In the past few years, the low-water-mark length of a 15-inch-or-so inseam receded to knee-length (11 inches), then a knee-baring nine inches, then to a quadriceps-exposing seven inches and on to the newly fashionable thigh-flaunting five inches," Coleman reports. "If men's shorts were a glacier in Greenland, scientists would be freaking out."

Is this a fake-trend story? God, I hope not. It's high time we banish the Kevin Federline manpri for good and usher in Bob Benson's cheeky abbreviated khaki. Jezebel's Dodai Stewart is with me. "Since the turn of the century -- the late '90s, early aughts -- we have been plagued by unsightly shorts. It's unclear who is to blame. Hip hop? Rave? Surfers? Skateboarders? It doesn't matter, really. The hideous trend slithered onto men nationwide, curling its tentacles around the legs of innocent dudes and sheathing them in the most terrible way. And it's held on for so long," she wrote. "Bring up that hemline!" she compelled the men of summer. "Show us your legs."

Not everyone is on board. "We love @Jezebel but this post is not only wrong, it's dangerous," Mother Jones magazine squealed. Another armchair hemline measurer was more to the point: "Men in short shorts, it's just wrong. Don't wear short shorts out... we don't need to see it."

If short shorts on men are dangerous, then I welcome a state of emergency. The shorter short can, of course, make for a compelling visual -- think Daniel Craig emerging, boy-shorted, from the sea in Casino Royale -- but short shorts on men also confer social benefits to everyone. In a world where women's bodies are often dismissed as "dangerous" and "wrong" when exposed, girls are made to pass fingertip-hemline tests to gain access to middle-school classrooms, and authority figures claim these rules and regulations are put in place to protect girls from boys, pulling the short short onto the other leg implicitly dismantles these sexist structures. Craig's ocean scene wasn't just a proud moment for short-shorted men everywhere -- it helped to restore the cosmic balance between cheesecake and beefcake in the Bond universe.

And a man needn't reach Hollywood levels of fitness to contribute to the effort. To the contrary! All body types are welcome in this Campaign for Short-Shorted Men. The Huffington Post may have called resurfaced photographs of Bill Clinton and Al Gore hitting the 1992 campaign trail in itsy-bitsy running shorts "embarrassing," but in my view, discriminating against the body of the shorts wearer would be antithetical to the very spirit of the hemline lift.

So bring on the Luke Dukes. But hold off on accepting the news that socks with sandals are suddenly fashionable -- that story is totally bogus.

Cringing over the scrunchie

"The scrunchie is back," Jezebel announced this week. The elastic hair tie encapsulated in billowing fabric -- a treasured staple of all Heathers, Tonyas and Phoebes in the late '80s and early '90s, but a blight to all Carries by the early 2000s -- is enjoying "a revival as summer's hottest accessory," the New York Post reports. The basis for this claim is that singers Rita Ora and Selena Gomez, along with supermodel Cara Delevingne, have recently stepped out with their ponytails thoroughly scrunched.

But I'm not yet convinced this is a trend that's ever going to set. Ora, Gomez and Delevingne are three impossibly beautiful young people. They could bring burlap sacks back. This banished look won't have truly retuned until non-superhuman women can tie on a scrunchie, hit the street and inspire envy instead of pity. Case in point: As U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton regularly stepped out in scrunchies, but her handlers thought they marked her as uncool and encouraged her to disappear the accessory from her wardrobe. And she did. When the scrunchie was truly in, it was worn by the bold, the beautiful and the boring alike. Only when all women are free to reclaim the scrunchie can we truly celebrate its return.

Yes, Kathie Lee Gifford openly loves her scrunchie. But I believe she is the exception to the rule. Gifford's job is to drink red wine during the day and tell self-deprecating jokes about how old she is. For Gifford, the scrunchie never left. Convince Hoda to tie one on, and then we'll talk.

-- Slate

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 18, 2014 A2

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