Winter's Coming. Don't Be a B.W.W.S.A.W.

An acronym coined by former The Atlantic staff writer Ashley Fetters, it stands for "boys who wear shorts all winter."

fun on snow
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You've seen the memes. Surely you know someone who is one. What is a B.W.W.S.A.W.? It's an acronym for boys who wear shorts in the winter coined by former The Atlantic staff writer Ashley Fetters. Truthfully, though, the title applies to men more generally, not just those aged 6 to 18.

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“When you are a tween, you do not like adults telling you how you feel, how you should feel, or what you should do, even. [Tweens] like to be treated like the expert in their own life,” Phyllis Fagell, a therapist, school counselor and author of the book Middle School Matters told Fetters in 2020.“...They’ll tell you how they’re feeling, thank you very much.”

man running through woods in winter, wenlock edge, shropshire, england, uk
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Many men, it seems, based on the number of grown adults I see around town wearing shorts in the face of sub-zero, Western Pennsylvania weather, never outgrow this urge to be unfettered — in the way they dress, act, eat or drink. Manliness, for many, guides the drinks they order, times of day they eat, the music they listen to, the emotions they express or even whether or not they bundle up before going outside.

Masculinity, which, in reality, is quite malleable, becomes credence by which these men base their entire being (and most of their outfits) as if distancing from this code could whisk them into cowardly dust. And they're unbending in their allegiance to it — even over something so simple as wearing pants that will keep you warm.

Other men are more wholesome about their preferences: Pants, they say, aren't nearly as comfortable as shorts, and if they're not moving much or merely walking to and from a car, shorts work just fine. On Reddit's popular AskMen subreddit, a user asked, "Why do some guys wear shorts in winter?"

Responses from a handful of Redditors, ranked:

  • "Some people's legs don't get cold easily."
  • "Because they think it impresses people."
  • "In elementary school all of us wore shorts in the winter because we 'weren't cold.' Basically this is how 7-year-olds expressed toughness."
  • "Anything dangerous and dumb is likely also more manly."
  • "In the winter, I'm never outside long enough for it to bother me."

    They're all right in a way — whether any were funny is up to you. With consistent exposure, sure, you won't be nearly as impacted by wind chill as some who's spent the season inside (by a fire). But there is a little bit of truth behind the discrepancy in temperatures at which men or women "feel cold." Women start conserving heat three degrees higher earlier than men — 70 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. Whether that means anything when it's nearly zero outside remains unknown, making B.W.W.S.A.W. both a mental and physical anomaly.

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