New York Lesson No. 331: Thin and Gorgeous

There’s a notion in places like Minnesota and Michigan that people in New York are all thin and stylish. “They all walk everywhere, and they’re all gorgeous, and they all dress in black and look fabulous.”

This is a ridiculous myth. And thank god. Otherwise I’d stand out around here like a pimple on Madonna’s ass.

Daily I see plenty of fat people on the subway who don’t know how to dress. My roommate, an apparent slave to the rumors of the Midwest, says, “Yeah, but those are all the tourists.” I might believe that if these people weren’t on their way to and from work.

Yes, New Yorkers walk more on average than people in most cities in the country. Yes, we are not as fat as Mississippians. But the Naomi Campbells and Beyoncés among us are few and far between, at best — even in Midtown or SoHo or the Village.

I saw Sandra Bernhard in an interview going on and on about how New Yorkers have a great sense of style that no other place in the country can match, and I couldn’t help thinking: “What bullshit. Where do you hang out, lady?” And that’s it. Yeah, there is a small class of people in certain neighborhoods in Manhattan — and by “New York,” unfortunately, she of course narrowly means Manhattan — who push the edges of fashion trends. Of course, Bernhard hangs out with these people. In these places. This is the New York she knows.

The New York I know — the New York most New Yorkers know — is a New York of tank tops, Old Navy t-shirts, frayed jean cuffs, house paint-spattered work boots, dirty fingernails, monochromatic business suits with unimaginative neckties and shoes that don’t match the belt, guts hanging out of ill-fitting halter tops.

Nice shoes, though.

OK. No matter what borough they live in, New Yorkers pay far more attention to their shoes than someone in, say, Minneapolis. I’ll give you that. People in this town may have shitty jeans, but they’ll have fierce shoes.

Apart from that, this panacea of fashion is something I just don’t think exists outside of the imagination.

Anyone who tells you otherwise probably did not grow up here and desperately wants to cling to and be associated with an illogical, unattainable ideal. Indeed, most of the people who will tell you this are themselves fat and fashionless.


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