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Lumbersexuality: An Exploration

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On October 30th, contributing editor Tom Puzak published “The Rise Of The Lumbersexual,” the story that coined the term “Lumbersexual,” a cultural observation that soon went viral. There have been dozens of articles on outlets like Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, Daily Beast, Time Magazine, and Huffington Post, not to mention tens of millions of people talking about it on social media. Three weeks out and this story is still raging, with People Magazine proclaiming Lumbersexual as the “Newest craze blowing up the Internet.” Puzak put his flannel shirt back on to pen another fun-loving look at the rise of the Lumbersexual.

For almost a month, I’ve been following the Lumbersexual’s snowball effect as it has reverberated into and beyond the blogosphere.

After a few weeks of study, I’ve read what the people have had to say, and can now proclaim officially: the Lumbersexual is bigger than any of us knew.

In the beginning, a common question was based on whether the term was a “thing” or not. This was not an easy conclusion to make, not an easy answer. The “thing”-ness of the term Lumbersexual has been heavily debated.

Evidence is on both sides. Some women thought it was attractive. Some men felt emasculated. Real, honest to goodness lumberjacks weighed in as well.

First let’s put this in a smaller context by looking at a real e-mail exchange between a customer shopping for a lumbersexual shirt, and a small company that makes them.

A discerning customer wrote: “I figure the Hazelnut plaid gives a warm and kind vibe, and would get a strong response from chicks looking for a guy that would be a good father. The “Vivid” plaid, I figure because it’s bright, is going to get a favorable response from chicks that want a guy who is confident and comfortable being in the spotlight. What do you guys think? Alternatively, are Fog and Leaf, the colors you have in stock, ranking highly right now?

Core Concept’s exceptional Whiskey River shirt, shown here in Vivid and Hazelnut color schemes

From the plaid purveyor, Core Concepts, here’s a quote from the response: “The Leaf color is bright and exciting. Upon seeing your choice of fashion-conscious, highly enlightened apparel, women will find you irresistible. You will likely find these babes gathering around you like the first burst of bright sunshine in early spring. Not to mention, leaf suggests your love of mother nature, which will surely not hurt your chances.”

So, here we see the plaid is a functional tool, just like a chainsaw is. A lumberjack knows how to use the right tool of the trade to get the job done, and clearly, so does this customer, a Lumbersexual, as well as the plaid vendor.

These are true pros, with little difference between them. Both the Lumbersexual and the Lumberjack are not trying to be something they are not, at least that I can discern. This led me to believe that Lumbersexuality may indeed not be a thing. Right? Well anyway, I’m not the only one who has thought this way….

In this article titled “The Lumbersexual is not a thing” the author explains that the image used on the top of our Lumbersexual story has been used over a thousand times to illustrate the way that the modern urban male dresses.

An iconic image of the recent fashion trend

Over a thousand times! Certainly, considering how massively popular that image is, it follows logically that the look it portrays is not a thing, but instead merely illustrates the superiority of these clothing choices for the specific purposes for which they are being worn. After all, those shirts have a DWR coating, they are water resistant!

Even people who dress like a lumberjack, but are not actively working in the timber industry have proclaimed:“Don’t call me a lumbersexual, despite my beard and checked shirt.”

Here we have a man that dresses like a lumberjack, but is not a lumberjack, and he says, in a respected news source, the Telegraph: “Nobody cares about these terms.” See? This author “didn’t care” enough to write a several-hundred-word article about this thing.

I began to see a theme.

The Lumbersexual, defined largely by trying to be someone who does not try much at all, has put great effort into explaining that it is NOT in fact a thing.

Then I came across this photo.

Employees at the actual Nerdery, good sports!

In my original article I wrote that the Lumbersexual “looks like a man of the woods, but works at The Nerdery, programming for a healthy salary and benefits.” I was kidding. But check this out. This photo makes it tough to believe what the people were saying about it not being a real thing!

Then Time magazine wrote “Confessions of a Lumbersexual.” They erroneously credited Urban Dictionary of first posting the definition of Lumbersexual in 2010, but it wasn’t posted then, nor was it up when I wrote the article (and now it says 2008, go figure).

Regardless, Time was right about the subject matter—Lumbersexuality is happening. It must be, considering Queen Latifah recently did a segment on her show on the phenomenon.

Talk show host Queen Latifah: Been “waiting a long time for the lumbersexual look to come back!”

I can’t help but laugh at the lucky timing of the article. It’s in so many places and going in so many directions that I can’t even follow it everywhere it goes now. We have gear to review piling up, a gift guide to write, and fat bikes to be ridden.

I have enjoyed the ride, with all of its excitement and its vitriol. With that, I bid the term adieu. It is a big burly grown man now, free to develop into whatever the world has in store for it.

I will now take off my plaid shirt, and watch from afar.

—Tom Puzak is a contributing editor. He wrote the original “Rise Of The Lumbersexual” article last month.

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