I Wore a Male Romper for a Week and Became a Real Man
'Show off your bulge, bud!’
Photos via. Devin Pacholik
The male romper hit the internet with the force of a million jolly bros popping champagne corks around the world. May of 2017 will be remembered as a milestone moment in fashion after a kickstarter in Chicago started raising funds for the RompHim™. The promotional materials caused a meme tsunami to wash away our priorities for a few days. The internet had a singular focus: to mock the RompHim. The thought of a one-piece shirt and short combo for men was simply too much. The RompHim sent humanity into an existential crisis. Twitteratti and talking heads on major networks unleashed their fury. Aren't rompers for girls? Does the elimination of borders between shirt and pants represent the downfall of civilization? How will a generation of romper men possibly manage to poop?
I needed answers, so I ordered a male romper from Zara Canada to my home in Regina, Saskatchewan via express delivery. I had to act quickly, knowing the next big internet fashion sensation could grab our attention away at any moment—perhaps high heels for dogs (Stilett-Doggos™) or umbrellas for garlic bread (UmBreadas™). Those would be for another day. Great journalism sheds light in dark places, and the male romper is a cave within a black hole stretched from neck to crotch.
A day after ordering, my new outfit arrived—a sleeveless, button-up, denim number. This would be my life for five days. In order to properly test the male romper, I went to as many public events as I could. Not only was this a trial for me and the clothing, it would be a journey for those around me and masculinity as a whole. From a rap show, to a science fair, a Scottish strongman competition and more, my romper firmly hugged me wherever I went. I asked strangers if they like my romper, yes or no, and then calculated an approval rating.
A Romp with Arts and Culture
On day one, my romper brought me to a concert. Canadian rapper Merkules was in town for a sold-out show, so I romped up and made my way to The Exchange. A security guard at the door ran his hands over me. I was a body pillow stuffed with self-loathing. "What do you think of my romper?" I nervously asked. This was my first romp-based interaction. He said, "I think it's great. I like the denim vest. It needs more badges though." His words simultaneously calmed and worried me. Badges? I realized the most notable rompers are official uniforms—prison jumpers and space suits have identifying markers, for example. My naked romper marked me as a renegade, a danger. The security guard still let me pass for some reason.
I swayed to the music and milled among sweaty teens, who gawked and asked for photos of me to post on social media. No doubt, the clothing triggered some fetal memories in their young minds. These adolescents are the future. Who knows what rompers they will be wearing in 20 years? One youth drunkenly yelled in my ear about the outfit, saying, "It should be tighter! Show off your bulge, bud!"
An opening act on stage shouted, "Get fucked up!" and the audience cheered. The torso of my romper was too long for my body and the stiff denim kept pushing my underwear down until my ding dong flopped out. No one knew, but I was fucked up. Two hours passed. I left the show and found a quiet bar, The Fat Badger. I stood near a singer named Carl Johnson, who crooned about wanting to die while my underwear hung around my lower thighs inside the romper.
27 people interviewed
81 percent approval rating
"It's a classy Canadian tuxedo. But I hate it."
"You're riding the wave. Fuck, 100 percent into it. I don't have the balls, but you're the man."
"You might deuce yourself, bro."
A Romp with Science
Has science gone too far with the male romper? To answer that question, I went to the Canada-Wide Science Fair at the University of Regina. Incidentally, romper time starts at 2 PM and that is when the science fair shut down. I missed everything. Ashamed, I walked by abandoned booths, experiments and technology in my one-piece denim dude sack. Is this what life has become? A quest for online content while true knowledge has been left forgotten?
Eventually, I found two people carrying a large telescope, and I asked them if science is ready for the male romper. One of the science educators responded by saying, "There was once an experiment where they had people walk against do-not-walk lights in traffic. If the person jaywalking was wearing a suit or dressed fancy, others would follow. If they were dressed poorly, the people wouldn't follow them."
"Would you follow me?" I asked.
The scientist responded, "Maybe."
7 people interviewed
71 percent approval rating
"It takes the guesswork out of an outfit."
"It's amazing. You can never have too much denim. You can air out your arms while protecting the goods."
"You might pee your pants in that thing."
A Romp with Strong Men
The Saskatchewan Highland Games brings out the strongest people in Canada to throw heavy things really far. I went to Regina's Victoria Park in my romper to watch strong men do mighty things. My bod pod had begun to give me a friction rash on my armpits. There I was, wondering about definitions of masculinity and clothing surrounded by burly dudes in kilts (the original anti-romper) chucking rocks. Hell yeah.
I spoke to Jason Johnston, a two-time Canadian champion in Scottish heavy athletics. He had just finished literally throwing a tree end over end to win the caber toss competition. The tree trunk flipped like notions of gender in my mind. Johnston told me the perfect caber throw, contrary to popular belief, is thrown for accuracy and not distance. Timing is everything, much like when to rock a romper. The kilted man said the goal to toss the caber so that it turns end over end, with the perfect throw landing in the so-called 12 o'clock position. Johnston had just finished throwing a perfect 12 o'clock, and he said it felt amazing.
I asked what he thought of my romper and if he would wear one, and he said, "You look a bit too much like Dexys Midnight Runners for me. But, you know, it takes strength and you're pulling it off well." It occurred to me then the romper trend is right on time, metaphorically in the 12 o'clock position.
21 people interviewed
90 percent approval rating
"It's fantastic. I'm wearing a kilt, so."
"I understand the high-level functionality of a romper. I am glad men are finally buying into it."
"What if you have to shit though?"
A Romp with Nature
While I was at the Highland Games, I decided to test the athletic range of the romper. I found a bouncy castle designed for children and pushed my way past some kids to have some fun. Journalism is a stressful business; I needed to unwind. All this time, I was worried about people noticing me for my romper, when it turns out they only saw the person within it. My romper only defined me as much as I wanted it to. It was up to me to find out how to project my inner romper to the greater world. It's not about romp her or romp him, it's about romp us.
As I bounced and philosophized in the inflated castle, I realized I had to shit something fierce. Did I panic? Did spiral into a depression? No. My resolve steeled, I calmly found a porta potty and got to work. Focused, I hit the timer function on my phone. It took 43 seconds to de-romp in the public outhouse, and I clocked a total dump time of 3:20, which honestly might be one of my best.
Rompers do not lead to soiling yourself. Myth busted.
Public feedback (near the porta potties):
5 people interviewed
20 percent approval rating
"You need a belt."
"Not for my boyfriend, but I don't hate it on you."
"Nah. Nah. Nah."
A Romp with Farmers
My friend David Carnegie drove me out to Creelman, a small town in Saskatchewan an hour from Regina. David was taking me to his family farm. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met. He waved at every passing car on the highway just to make the other drivers feel acknowledged, a habit his father Brad passed along, he told me. Needless to say, when I met the Carnegie family, they did not judge me for wearing a romper. To them, I was just another hand to help out with spring seeding. David's brother Nick and their uncle Larry greeted me wearing their own jumpsuits. We sat down to a meal prepared by Viola Carnegie, David and Nick's grandmother. She treated me with the kindness of a saint, patting me on my rompered back, as Brad mused on what I could do to experience farm living.
I ended up driving a tractor and seeding a section of land for about 10 minutes; I took some pictures near some pigs and held a pitchfork. Truly, I was very useless. But out there, away from the internet and the memes, surrounded by caring people, I learned manhood is what you make it. It doesn't matter if your pants and shirt come in one piece or two, as long as the person wearing them feels whole.
2 people interviewed
100 percent approval rating
"It blends in on the farm in Creelman, Saskatchewan. It's just coveralls—a onesie out here in the stubble." — David Carnegie
"I might wear one. It's good on the farm ... I have coveralls on, so really we're like brothers out here." — Nick Carnegie
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