Manorexia: A Hipster Health Crisis; A Steve’s Word Investigation

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manorexia_headerWhat started as a fashion statement quickly became an imminent danger. What was once a trend turned into something much more. What used to be just an image is now a cry for help.

All throughout the Hipster World of Brooklyn’s many neighborhoods and Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Omaha’s Main Drag, men walk around with skinny jeans. Very, very skinny jeans. Skin tight, sometimes. But has anyone stopped and really looked at the situation? Has anyone seen the mounting danger?

No pint glass runneth over.

“There’s a lot of pressure to be super-thin,” one hipster told me, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash within the community. “Someone decided that this is the way it’s gotta be,” and so the metabolically-challenged hipster struggles. And struggles in silence.

“Up until now, no one has told the story of my pain,” says Jesse Davis, a Baltimore native who now hails from Williamsburg, a nervous bag of bones all elbows and jutting collarbones. “I used to weigh one hundred and twenty-five pounds. Can you believe it? I never would have been able to fit into these babies back then.” He puts down his Michelob Ultra Light beer and stands up to show off his skin-tight jet-black jeans. “I actually found them in the Girls’ Department of Gap Kids.” He’s beaming. “The ankles are so tight, I can’t even wear socks.”

I tease him about his beer of choice helping him in his quest for waif-ish physicality but he is not amused. “Do you have any idea how many calories a can of Pabst has?” His mood has turned quite sour. “It’s as if they made it extra caloric just for the metabolically-challenged like me. It’s part of their insidious exclusivity.”

It was through conversations like this one that I understood just how important it is to the male Hipster to be thin. Not even important, essential. And it’s been tough on many people. Including Connor Griffin, originally of Greenwich CT, now living on Seventh and Avenue A.

“We don’t do gyms,” he told me over black coffee and an egg white only omelet (of which he only ate half) one afternoon last week. “It’s simply not done.” I ask if it bothers him that he has the biceps of a 7-year old girl and he just shrugs, his shoulder blades like spears beneath his skin. He tells me that to belong to a gym would be to betray the simple Hipster code of nonchalance. And he’s right about that. There’s nothing all that ironic about sweating.

We stroll a little bit after our meal. Connor tells me about his band (What the Driver Knew) and his love of mumblecore icon and supreme jackass Joe Swanberg. He barely breaks his stride or stops talking for a moment and I'm struggling to keep up and thinking maybe there's something to this ethos of his, when he stops suddenly and steps inside, of all things, a McDonald's. "You can't be serious?" I ask. He looks at me with a glazed expression, his eyes the only dark spots in a wan and drawn skull. Then he turns and leaves and lights up when we get outside. We walk the rest of the way to his apartment in silence and when we get there, he goes to the fridge and takes from it one piece of iceberg lettuce and begins to gnaw on it. "I just wanted to smell it. I'll admit, sometimes I go in and smell the burgers once a week. Those are the dark days." We sit in silence once again, and it takes him twenty minutes to finish off the lettuce.

Besides stopping in for a whiff of Big Mac every week, what do you do if you aren’t a natural beanpole? Jesse Davis and Connor Griffin both drink light beers when in private and often forgo lunch. Apparently, it’s the easiest meal of the day to say you “don’t feel.” As well, according to the two of them, it’s easy to bypass breakfast also; Jesse claims he’s rarely sober enough in the morning to eat, anyway. They both confess to drinking their dinner at least four nights a week. Simply put, these men are as anorexic as your average B-Squad cheerleader. They fret constantly about their bodies and don’t eat in service of a dream. The dream of hipsterdom.

As many lives lost as calories dropped.

Manorexia, and the deaths caused by this insidious sickness, are the hipster community’s best-kept secret. And when you think about it, you come to realize that every problem within the community can essentially be traced back to manorexia and the insistence that skin-tight jeans are the only way to fly. The rampant drug use, we see clearly now, is not inspired by unfailing nihilism and general psychological shortcomings. No, it is a tool in the furtherance of the goal of waifishness. The cocaine suppresses the appetite of the male hipster thus it is an indispensable tool for his survival.

The constant and annoying drunkenness is also a part. How can we expect these men to remain sober when there is nothing in their stomachs to absorb the alcohol? It is, in fact, unfair of us, the general population, to expect that any male hipster can hold his liquor when his whole life is devoted to remaining thin enough to wear the smallest of pants and sport tight t-shirts over bony rib cages. I’m sure it wont be long before we have, as result of growing at ease with vomiting from all the drinking, a rash of bulimia-related hipster tragedies. But in truth, I hope I’m not around to see it, and not just because bulimia makes a poor portmanteau.

But the manorexia that is sweeping the community really just belies a larger piece of the puzzle; it just reveals that there is a dream these men are chasing down. In order to more fully understand why such drastic choices would be made, we have to understand the nature of the hipster himself. As Connor Griffin alluded to when I sat down with him for a late afternoon breakfast, it’s all about being effortless. One can’t work at being thin the way the rest of the world does, most specifically in terms of working out, when one is a hipster. The hipster must magically be, without exertion, that thing he is supposed to be.

But at what cost? The question that no one can answer, even as they explain why they live without lunch, is why effortlessness is so important. On the other hand, you’ve got to admire all the dedication required. It takes a lot of will power to get yourself under a hundred pounds for the sake of something as ethereal as hipsterdom. But, maybe, that’s its true essence. Exerting a lot of effort in order to make it seem that life itself is effortless, it is both the hypocrisy and the brilliance of hipsterdom. Plus, without spending money on food, there’s that much more that can go to ironic t-shirts.


  • 2

    Under 100 pounds is nit the case. At 68" between 128-135 I look damn good in size 26 jeans.

  • 3

    Love this article, having many friends in the Hipster world, it is hard to make this issue public. The hipster world is a world of silence, no one wants to be labeled a hipster but they all aspire to be. Everyone wishes to be "careless" about rules and their images but they subconsciously follow the rules in their inner society. This article is as forward as it gets and I can apply so many names to it. Kudos

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