Muffin topping across cultures

Last year, I went to the Puertorican festival in Humboldt Park. Well behaved babies in strollers, teenagers, older folks, young families were all living it up, enjoying music, the food, and conviviality on a hot summer day.

I also noticed that a large percentage of the women were wearing tight clothes. Really tight clothes. So tight, in fact, that rolls were created where none needed to be. Jeans so tight they made a muffin top. Piles of flesh spilling out in an unadulterated celebration of excess skin and showing off. I was horrified. To me, excess flesh says “I’m vulgar, lazy and eat too much.” But I guess it doesn’t mean that if you’re Puertorican. If someone shows a lot of flesh, it symbolizes that they’re inviting, revealing themselves? Open? Not afraid of embracing life or circumstances, full of vivacity? I also read somewhere that wearing tight clothing is a device used in film to show emotion.

I used to think fat was always a way of insulating oneself from the environment, life, attention from the opposite sex, a sign of being done with life. But now I’m not so sure. Bursting out of one’s clothing might mean being more open to engaging life.

I don’t like sexiness, I don’t like seduction and I don’t like other people’s emotions and mess. Being fat to me is a vulgar thing, and muffin topping is a moral failure. Exposing emotion is untidy and inconsiderate, like smoking or talking loudly on a cell phone. This is the culture I think I live in. Reality TV and bland suggestivity of Bebe ads on every bus stop lets us be emotional voyeurs without having to experience any untidiness ourselves.

Going to the Puertorican festival was an eye opener for me. Maybe it’s okay to be a little more expressive and open.

Or not.


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