By Christopher Cudworth
The Internet has been great for proliferation of acronyms, particularly cynical names for targets of lust and disgust. The term MILF comes to mind, which stands for Mother I’d Like to F***, in case you didn’t know. It originated with porn sites that require shorthand to communicate the entire spectrum of lusts and disgusts. The term MILF is both a compliment and an insult to certain women. Of course that is how just about everything in the porn world works. The primarily male propensity to “own” the imagery that grabs their attention so fiercely takes a perversely cynical view toward the women they adore or abhor.
Seemingly witty acronyms do abound in the web world, so it wasn’t too surprising to find that a new acronym has been coined to describe Middle Aged Men In Lycra, MAMIL for short.
MAMIL off the charts
Let’s pause for a moment and consider the source of the acronym. The reason the term exists is that cycling has attracted people of all ages to the sport. Riding bikes can be fun. Riding bikes can be healthy for you, much better exercise than four hours on a golf course eating hot dogs at the turnaround and downing beers the entire round as you ride a motorized cart.
Lots of middle aged men play golf, especially middle-aged white men. They costumes they wear on the golf course have blessedly improved over the years. Fewer golfers show up in outrageously loud plaid paints. Instead, the Tiger Woods of the world have introduced some degree of athletic class to golf wear.
And yet, the general shape of men on the golf course is not all that impressive. The middle-aged man who has let himself get fat around the middle with a bulging stomach that obscures his belt (and below) has a serious challenge on his hands. It is hard to lose that weight. Worse yet, belly fat is known to kill you.
So some middle aged men have taken up exercise to lose their fat and change their eating and drinking habits.
Riding a road bike is an excellent alternative to standing around on the golf course drinking beer. So the middle-aged man who puts on a cycling outfit and rides a bike 3-4 hours with some buddies is doing something genuine to improve his life and even prolong it.
Fat and lycra
But let’s face it. Some middle aged men have a tough time losing the body fat they accrued sitting behind desks eating donuts. For a while as they ride to get in shape they might not be svelte. Their stomachs still bulge and their butts and thighs struggle to fit inside cycling shorts.
But goddamnit, they’re trying. I’ve ridden with plenty of middle-aged men carrying a few extra pounds and I’ll be damned if some of them are not fast on the bike and determined to improve their pace and their lives.
Yet some people find MAMIL just a step above MAMIS (Middle Aged Men In Speedos). But it’s not exactly the same. The Speedo guy really may be clueless that he does not belong in that swatch of spandex. Or perhaps not. Some guys just let it ride, so to speak. But if MAMIS is at the pool doing laps to get in shape, then it’s your job to turn your head if you don’t like what you see.
Same goes for MAMILs who stop by the coffee shop to refuel after a 50 mile bike ride. If you don’t like looking at MAMILs for whatever sick little reason enters your head, it’s your problem, not the men who ride bikes to better themselves.
If women who dress provocatively don’t deserve to get raped, men who wear Lycra or Spandex don’t deserve to be ridiculed. It’s not a fashion choice anyway. You literally can’t ride 50 miles in flapping, loose clothing and expect to have a good experience. Lycra shorts and shirts were invented for one thing: aerodynamic efficiency. It makes a big-ass difference out on the open road. And if you really do happen to have a big ass that blocks the wind, that’s one thing. But a big ass draped in flapping clothing just creates more drag.
That means it’s time for you to shut the hell up and quit the sniggering if you think middle aged men in Lycra are pathetic or funny. What’s really pathetic and not so funny is ignorance toward the legitimate pursuit of better health and a longer life.
MAMILs have it right, and have the right, to dress however they please. Just ride away from the acronym, boys and gals. Wandering eyes do not need to define you. Don’t let them acronym you to death.
The same goes for Middle Aged Men in Short Running Shorts. It’s become taboo for middle aged men to run with shorts that don’t cover their knees. It’s ridiculous. Who wants to run in a freakin’ dress that blows around in the wind?
I blame the whole stupid oversized shorts thing started with Michael Jordan, who by all reports is an inveterate skirt chaser with little respect for the rest of the human race, and particularly women. Yet his fashion choices and proclivity for longer shorts turned the entire fitness enterprise into a skin-shy society with an oddly conservative bent. Talk about your cognitive dissonance.
The influence continues to this day. As far as this runner is concerned, the Devil Doesn’t Wear Prada. The Devil tells us we’re all supposed to dress like Desert Sheiks when we go out for a run or ride. It’s stupid. It’s dynsfunctional. And I refuse to play by those stupid rules.
Call me what you will. MAMIL. MAMISS. Don’t care. I hope your eyes pop out of your head when you see me. I’m fit and proud like to wear loud colors now and then. So deal with it, even at the coffee shop.
MAMILs, stand up for yourself. There no reason to be shy. Let them undress you with their eyes. Or not.