At the risk of yet again being the wet blanket and killjoy that I am sometimes accused of being, I must deliver this public service announcement to any and all millennial males who might be reading this and anyone who cares about them (or shops for them still): grown men should not be wearing Underoos.
No matter how much you loved them as a kid. If you can shave, you have aged out of Underoos—no matter how great you think you look in them. Wearing what amounts to a Superman or Aquaman (or Skeletor or Darth Vader) costume under your clothes is fun for little boys…but sad for grown men. Not every day can or should be Halloween. That’s why Halloween is special (and should always be so). It’s one day (that’s evolved into more of a season) each year when everyone can dress up as whatever they want. But as adults, the rest of the year is for being adults (which makes that Halloween time so special and fun).
Underoos started making matching briefs and t-shirt combo packs for grown men a few years ago and clearly sales have been gangbusters, since they keep expanding their line with new characters that millennial males can dress up as under their street clothes: He-Man, Captain America, Batman, Power Rangers, The Flash…well, I’ve got a news flash: this is all very sad. What is adorable and sweet on a very small boy is a borderline “cry for help” when it’s worn by a middle-aged Peter Pan.
There was a time in our culture when the lines between boyhood and manhood were clear, despite Americans never having much of an official rite of passage for male adulthood. Aside from bar mitzvahs in the Jewish community, American boys don’t have a set moment for becoming men and it’s different from boy to boy. Some precocious males are mature adults in their mid to late teens. Those who develop later carry adolescence into their early twenties. There was a Matthew McConaughey movie a few years back called “Failure to Launch” that featured a guy in his 30s who still acted like a big kid (much to his parents’ chagrin).
As the still relatively-new mom to a little boy headed fast towards his second birthday, I relish giving him the babyhood and boyhood he deserves…but at a certain point 15 or so years from now I am going to expect my son to put away his toys and march firmly and confidently towards adulthood. I don’t expect to be doing his laundry for him when he’s in high school (you can bet your bottom dollar he will be responsible for his own washing and drying as soon as he can safely operate the machine) and I certainly won’t be buying Underoos for him by then.
If I raise him right, he won’t want to be buying them for himself at that age (or older) either. The only Underoos I will want my son to ever buy will be those for his own children someday in the deep future.
If there is still a future, considering the fact that the world we live in now must be handed over at some point to the millennials…in whom I have a hard time placing my trust since I know a good many of them are running around town with Underoos under their suits.