It’s early in the morning in the middle of the winter. You’re on your way to work and you’ve got the heat cranked up in your car. Maybe it’s snowing, maybe it’s just one of those windy chill-you-to-the bone kind of days. You look down at your cup holder. You see tendrils of steam coming out of your travel mug, originating from your hot coffee. You rejoice and put the mug to your lips. You dread having to get out of the car and having to walk for 15 seconds to the door of your destination. We don’t blame you.
If you’re anything like us and most other people, you like to be cozy in the winter; all bundled up, hot beverage in hand. But, surprisingly, not everyone is like us. Some guys – believe it or not – choose to wear shorts during the winter. Rain or shine, snow or ice, wind or hail, these dudes push it to the limit and are not letting Old Man Winter stop them from their clothing choice. Who are they? What’s their dealio? Are they masochists? Are they sane? Why don’t they wear pants? Stick around and get the full scoop.
Is There a Physiological Explanation?
One of the oldest stereotypes in the book is that men and boys are always warm, and women and girls are always cold. When we live our lives, anecdotally, it does actually seems like there’s some scientific substantiation behind this idea. Women have slightly higher body temperatures than men (yes, this point is counter-intuitive). Therefore, in short, if you have a higher body temperature, you’re more used to being warm, so when there’s a drop in temperature, you feel it more. That’s why it always seems like women are colder.
Great. But that doesn’t explain anything. The overwhelming majority of boys and men obviously do wear pants during the winter, so a generalized explanation like boys vs girls being hot or cold doesn’t help us. Then what’s the deal? Let’s explore physiological explanations a little further. What’s about the possibility that some boys and men simply “run hotter” than others.
Maybe the guys that wear shorts in the winter just have higher body temperatures than the others, so they wear shorts to be comfortable? Well, according to the experts, that’s not the reason, so we can’t find our explanation there. Matthew Saia, a doctor and academic from the University of Vermont explains that it’s true that there is some fluctuation in average body temperatures between different people. But he says that the differences are very small; certainly not enough to account for how people are affected by the cold of winter.
So, the reason there are some men and boys wear that wear shorts during the winter is not because they are generally warmer than women and girls. And the reason doesn’t have to do with differences in body temperature between boys. At this point, we don’t have a body-related explanation. We ask again, then, what’s the deal?
Is there a Psychological Explanation?
Well, since it doesn’t actually have to with body temperatures, then the reason, or reasons, must have to do with what’s going on in peoples’ heads. As it turns out, the explanation might have to do with questions of teenage rebellion and/or the notion of “the manly man.” Let’s first consider the kids and teenagers. Psychologists note that teenagers are in a unique developmental period of life. Pretty consistently, we can rely on teenagers, seemingly on principle, to go against their parents’ will.
The shorts during the winter thing might be a case of that defiance. Their parents tell them “You can’t go out of the house without long pants! Are you crazy?” Specifically, in order to go against the wishes of their parents, they refuse to wear long pants. Still, there are gaps in our explanation. Teenage girls are just as defiant as boys, so why don’t they also wear shorts (or skirts) during the winter?
Phyllis Fagell, a therapist and counselor, notes that boys in particular are “so aware of societal messages about what it means to be tough, and what it means to be masculine.” Therefore they might choose to wear shorts when it’s freezing as a means to broadcast their “toughness” and their “masculinity.” It seems that both of these factors (the teenage rebellion tendency and the acute sensitivity of boys and male teens to perceived notions of masculinity) play a part in conspiring to give us this weird phenomenon.
We have a possible explanation for the younger guys who insist on wearing shorts during the winter – they’re not masochists, they’re just young. But we still have one hole in our theory. Why do some grown men do it? Mailmen, air cargo workers, ordinary dudes walking their dogs, what’s up? Now, we’re entering the realm of speculation, so don’t take anything too seriously.
Maybe it’s possible that the two psychological factors (teen rebellion and notions of manliness) have lingering effects on people even when they’re well out of their teens. Look at music taste for example. Whatever your taste in music is today, if you’re an adult, then it probably took form while you were young, and now it’s less flexible. Same with friends. Same with favorite foods, and the same goes for lots more. Maybe the habits these chilly boys develop when they’re young are still with them when they’re all grown up. Brrrr.