Look Out Chubby Folks! Here Comes Active Wear!

Unlike “active wear,” baggy blue jeans and sports jerseys give a guy, or gal, the relaxed fit needed to down that next bag of tortilla chips. Photo by: Nancy CarlsonUnlike “active wear,” baggy blue jeans and sports jerseys give a guy, or gal, the relaxed fit needed to down that next bag of tortilla chips. Photo by: Nancy Carlson

By: John Carlson—

If you are a chubby person like me, you are probably alarmed by the latest fashion trend.

The big new thing is “active wear.”

Active wear is that sort of sleek, colorful, sporty apparel that clings to your body like an extra epidermal layer. It shows off every bulge you’ve got, whether you’re running in a marathon, or just running to the grocery store to restock your training table with some nutritious Hostess Ding Dongs.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Bulges, I mean. You want bulges? Believe me, I’ve got bulges. It’s just that at this point in my life, not one of my bulges is located within a foot of where it’s supposed to be.

In the past, this hasn’t been a problem, because I’ve always worn what I like to think of as “inactive wear.” You know, stuff like extra-large Colts’ jerseys and baggy blue jeans. Bulge ignorance, as they say, is bliss. But just the other day, after my wife surprised me with some active wear, I glanced at myself in a mirror and screamed.

Sleek? From the hips down I was so lumpy, it looked like I was shoplifting basketballs in my pants. From the hips up? Thanks to my new skin-tight active wear shirt, everything I’d eaten for lunch after buying a KFC family chicken bucket was outlined on my belly – the drumsticks, the biscuits. You could even see the cole slaw.

Luckily, I had kept my baggy jeans and jerseys, due to a nagging feeling that, active wear-wise, things might not work out for me. See, my wife Nan had bought me active wear once before, about 30 years earlier, when I was doing a lot of bicycling.

Now, I wasn’t exactly a serious bicyclist back then. Evidence that I wasn’t exactly a serious bicyclist back then included the fact that, after 30-mile rides, I’d gratefully plop on the porch with some Budweisers, a lighter and a pack of Marlboros. Serious bicyclist or not, though, one day Nan bought me a pair of Spandex riding shorts to help me along in my cycling career.

Pedaling from my driveway onto the street in these stretchy new shorts, my little plastic helmet strapped atop my big fat head, I was such an impressive sight that a passing lady driver swerved into a tree, she was laughing so hard.

That pretty well set the tone for my future feelings about active wear, which also includes, Nan tells me, “compression pants.”

Compression pants? If that’s not an oxymoron, it should be.

See, I don’t know about you, but in the vital matter of “chubby person coolness,” I still believe that Green Bay Packers quarterback legend Brett Favre and the denim Wranglers he pitches on TV come off a lot better than compression pants, figuratively and literally.

The last thing I want to do before bed at night is roll around wrestling with active wear compression pants, sweating, gasping and trying to peel them off so the circulation below what I jokingly call my “waist” can get back to normal by morning.

Does this make me some kind of loser? Yeah, I guess so. Still, it’s jerseys and jeans for me.

A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.

Have a story idea or suggestion for John? Email him at john.carlson@woofboom.com