That horrible moment when you realize you married a Speedo wearing European.

I’ve had a similar moment to this once before in my life.

I was 13, and I had been invited to the beach with some of the “cool girls” at school. My dad (my British dad, I should say) was supposed to come pick me up. He just can’t resist a “dip in the sea” when the opportunity arises. So right there, on the Texas beach, in front of my friends and a couple of mothers… he stripped down to his whitey tighties and waded out into the water.

I was foolish enough to have my back turned to him for these two seconds and I had to be notified by one of the cool girls.

That was the end of that. I remained content for the next several years in the nerd group.

Fast-forward 15 years, and I find myself face to face with a drawer full of men’s Speedos. MY man’s Speedos.

I didn’t intentionally seek out a Speedo wearing European, but perhaps some of that subconscious  quest for paternal familiarity drove me towards a man who would embarrass me just as much as Dad.

I think the most shocking thing to me at the time of this discovery was the sheer number of tight little spandex shorts in his possession. This is a man who doesn’t like the beach, never wears shorts, and sports a farmer’s tan most of the year.

Since this was at the beginning of our relationship when this happened, I handled it with much more care than I would now. Now I would crack up laughing and make fun of him.

(He is looking over my shoulder right now telling me that I did, in fact, do that.)

Well, anyway, I did what any American girlfriend would do to handle the situation. I bought him some board shorts.

my man's speedos.07

As it turns out, he was quite happy to have an alternative that covered more skin. Oddly enough, it was me that started missing the little spandex shorts! I kept finding myself trying to convince him to don them “just one more time, for me, pleeeease!” But now that he had this modest alternative, there was no going back.

Similarly, when we first met, I made it my mission to rid his closet of the (what I called) “European pants”. You know the ones I’m talking about – straight out of the 80’s, tapered at the ankle, tight butt, perhaps a pleat or fold where one shouldn’t be. Top it with a fanny pack, and you have every American girl’s nightmare. So I got rid of all of them and replaced his wardrobe with Gap-like, baggy, American jeans… which he now loves.

Looking back on it, I kind of wish I hadn’t said anything. I kinda miss the snugness… makes for a nice view!

*Editor’s note: if you look like any of THESE men… please, continue wearing Speedos.

81 thoughts on “That horrible moment when you realize you married a Speedo wearing European.

  1. Too funny. Same thing with me — first time a speedo popped out, I ran to buy a pair of board shorts… I’m just too stuck in my American ways, I guess.

    • What’s decent? I mean, you ask any Italian, and they find it perfectly acceptable. Then they point out the nude beaches and say, “see?” 🙂

      • Oh I agree it’s totally subjective. I think they are deliberately ambigous here.

        If you ask me going topless is fine for an attractive man, while hairy men should cover their arms and legs. Too bad I don’t get to make the laws.

        • Haha… yes to the hairy man ban! By the way – just checked out your blog – very funny! I’m going to add you to my ‘Funny Expats in Foreign Lands’ list… it’s still very small, but I’ll be posting it once I have a few I really like. 🙂 Can you give me a little intro phrase? Can’t find an ‘about me’.

  2. Speedos should never, ever, ever be acceptable… but we were in France last week and most of the places we stayed wouldn’t even allow boardshorts in the swimming pool. Speedos only! Europe’s a funny place sometimes…

    • oh, I know! Don’t even get me started on that… What is it that they think is going to slip out and into the public water if it is not held in my Speedos?!

  3. Totally agree – unless a man looks like Daniel Craig, full coverage should be the aim. Sadly, the beaches around Rome seem to be full of speedo wearing, hairy middle-aged men who refuse to leave the beach until they’ve bronzed every inch of their bodies to a shade normally only found in tins of Cuprinol…

    • Thanks, Mandy. Congratulations to you on turning a self-deprecating observation about American mentality into an opportunity to be pompous. I can only assume you’re English. 🙂

  4. After living in Italy for 18 months I have also come across the spandex pants wearing male (various ages) and in my opinion it is not a good look (and for me this is true for all ages!), Shorts just look better (again in opinion) so I’m sorry but I don’t think swapping speedos for shorts is repressive or prudish just more modern.

    • Good point, Samantha. Looking at your Gravatar name, it would seem that you actually ARE English (please excuse my previous zinger)… and, in fact, from Yorkshire? My family is from Rotherham. Thanks for commenting! -M

      • No offence taken. Yes, originally from Doncaster so not far from your family at all but for the time being living near Modena as my husband got a job out in Italy. Look forward to reading your next blog post as they do often make me chuckle.

  5. As another Yorkshire lass (Bradford) we also have a phobia about speedos. I don’t think I’ve ever been as relieved as I was the first time I went to the beach with my Calabrese and he wore a very boring pair of board shorts. The romance would have died right there otherwise. There is just no need. Loved the article (and you’re right about the trousers too)

    • Sorry Catherine – for some reason, just saw your comment today! I have to say – there are a shocking number of Yorkshire lasses out and about in the expat blogging world. Are you all escaping the lovely weather? 🙂

  6. Hysterical and I can just feel your husband’s indignation but love that he had a whole collection of these things. In Australia we call them ‘budgie smugglers’ and on certain strips of beach mainly the Gold Coast retired over weight men stroll about in them. Although if you google the Aussie lifeguards they more than make up for it!!!
    PS my husband wears boardies!
    ciao lisa x

    • Yes… “budgie smugglers”… best name ever! Although, the first few months I was in Aus I didn’t know what a ‘budgie’ was. I believe the explanation was given to me in the presence of a particularly memorable Aussie lifeguard, if i do recall correctly. 🙂 -M

  7. I wonder what you wear to the beach. I wonder if this blog is deemed funny if the situation is reversed and your husband looked through your dresser and think you are showing too much skin. You are so indoctrinated with this anti male attitude that you don’t even realize it. I pity your husband. And people wonder why men don’t want to get marry nowadays…

    • I’m not I even know where to being responding to that… So maybe I shouldn’t.
      But I will…

      Yeah, you’re right, Ken. These poor, oppressed men, just wanting to show a little skin. And us callous prejudicial women. You’re right. It’s no wonder men don’t want to subject themselves to the horrors of bikini-clad wives. Thank goodness I have commenters like you to open my eyes to the “indoctrinated” views I was so thoughtlessly raised with.

      Yours truly, Mrs. Sarcasmo.

      (reading your comment again, I’m not even sure I responded to the intended criticism. Are you saying men should be able to show more skin, women shouldn’t be allowed to show skin, or just that making fun of European men is “anti male”?)

      • Your attitude is just a sympton of the current trend of male-bashing. It is so accceptable that you don’t realize it and when someone bring you out to it, you started hiding behind your gender:oh you poor ‘oppressed’ men, hence hinting that you are the real oppressed one, and drawing out the victimization card, very typical.

        In my opinion, men should like to wear what they want, like you women, without being subject to ridicule (an alien concept to you, as you cannot respond to my comment). I am sure if it was the other way around, you women start screaming and hurl accusations that we are misogynists.

        The fact that you think it is a riot to make fun of the male body show something about your character. None of it is positive.

        • Ken. You’re killin’ me. Take a step back and breathe.

          I apologize for the sarcastic reply. Apparently the humor was not understood and was misplaced, and I only did it because I’m tired. Usually I would attempt a more high brow discussion… which you are apparently intent on having.

          So, let’s do this. Le’s discuss.

          A) This post and this entire blog is written with a sense of humor, and if you can’t read it with a sense of humor, then I’m not really sure what to say. The only reason I felt comfortable making fun of speedo-wearing men, is because it IS totally acceptable. It was merely meant as an observation on one of the things that falls in the realm of culture shock for Americans in Europe… as supported by the comments from other readers.

          B) If you read to end of the post, you would see that my conclusion is that I LIKE the look, and I wish my husband would wear them more often. The whole point of most of my posts is to start out with a preconceived notion that may be shared by many people (usually within the theme of being an expat in Italy), and then arrive at a conclusion that puts the silliness of the whole thing into perspective. I started out with my very American self being uncomfortable with them, and I arrived at the conclusion that I was wrong.

          C) What trend in male-bashing? You said that men are subject to ridicule for their clothing? Is there something I’m missing? Seriously. I am unaware of this as a phenomenon on a global scale, and I genuinely would love to be enlightened… as long as you don’t lump me in with a trend that I didn’t know existed, nor do I support.

          D) I am so incredibly tired and literally falling asleep at the keyboard as I type, so sorry for spewing out thoughts without being very organized. But I do try to take all comments seriously. And if you are offended, that concerns me. More than anything, it concerns me that you think… that I think “it is a riot to make fun of the male body”… WHEN did I make fun of the male body? I LOVE the male body. I have nothing but the upmost appreciation for the male body, which many can attest to (not like MANY, but ya know… many). 🙂

          E) My sarcastic comment before was inappropriate, and I apologize. You’re right, in that it is often easier to resort to what is known… and, well, female oppression is a fairly well “known” feeling (especially since I’m female). It doesn’t give me the right to bash men in return, no. But, again… I really don’t think I bashed.

          F) I think you should apologize. Your last line was just being nasty about me personally without even knowing me. And that’s not very nice. I’m happy to have an intellectual discussion about all of the things that you said, based on a reading of this post. But the way you presented yourself says way more about your character than mine. If you don’t have anything nice to say, you really shouldn’t say anything at all.

          So there. I’m going to collapse in a puddle on the floor in front of the stufa now. My skin isn’t thick enough for crap like this. You’re just a big ‘ole meany head, and I don’t know if we can be friends.


          p.s. I accept apologies in written form OR in the form of chocolates. I also forgive easily, so take a deep breath and decide whether or not you want to continue being mean to me. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Ken.

          • No, it is not a phenomenom on a global scale…but it seems to be an American phenomenom.

            In any case, I do give you credit for having my opinions posted as most moderated blogs only allow people who share the same opinion.

  8. I’d love to bash any male wearing speedo’s! Oh yes, yes I would. I love my Italian hubby in his speedos and I would never think of buying him those American swim shorts that cover up the package, oh no way. And on a side note, you didn’t male-bash in this thread, you did what any good wife would do when her hub has a fashion disorder. 🙂 Keep up the great work.

  9. re-reading the post i dont see any male bashing. it was clearly written tongue-in-cheek and frankly i dont really get how comments on clothing leads one to a conclusion of bashing men. personally, i am not a fan of speedos -not because i am american but i dont see how they are comfortable and they are not that flattering. i also dont like the color yellow or those big rolly puffy coats, both men and women, and dogs wear. could be because i dont have the body to pull one off but whatever… not that im bitter… lol but frankly, whatever floats their boat is fine with me. i still like and love my male inlaws and they proudly wear their speedos. expressing a cultural observation or personal preference does not warrant character attacks. i guess i did not realize that clothing preference opinions were such a hotspot with men. i love men – think they are awesome but everyone, every sex has quirks that can be picked apart. maybe there are bigger gender-related issues that would be more worthy of debate… im just saying.

    • Word.
      As much as I would like to say it’s not true, my little blog here does not provide the most appropriate venue for in depth discussions and debate topics that don’t have to do with anything above the level of, say, … snorting spaghetti up your nose.

      Gotta pick your audience, ya know! 🙂
      Thanks for the support, Stacy.

    • Then what do YOU wear to the beach, then? Shorts that go down to your ankles? If speedos looked uncomfortable then why women insist on wearing bikini bottoms?
      True there are more gender related issues more worthy of debate, but this speedo / male physique attitude is a sympton of a bigger picture and my pointing it out hopefully make you see how even when something done as a joke, reflects a bigger issue at hand that you wouldn’t otherwise think about because it is so prevalent that it has become acceptable and thus “norm”.

      • Ken… if I may interject… I think maybe we just need a clarification on what exactly you’re upset about. Are you saying that people have the attitude that men should not show off their bodies?

        Is it possible that maybe you’re taking offence at something that may not be felt by everyone? Could you give us some background on the “trend” you speak of? Perhaps you’re right, and it’s so “normal” that it needs clarifying.

        • Let’s say your blog is not the first anti-speedo thing that I have ran into. And as Giovanni puts it, it seem to be an exclusivrely American thing.

          And you are right about taking offence at something that may not be felt by everyone, just as this attitude Americans felt toward men who dare to expose their thighs on the beach.

          It is telling that Stacy here would speak for men on what is comfortable or not rather ask men themselves. Then again, most American men are so afraid of ridicule they would lie.

          • Ken, if I may, Italians ridicule Americans and anybody else, other Italians included, who dare to roll up their jeans. Do I think it is an attitude towards man (or women) who dare expose their ankles? No. I think it’s stupid and that anybody should be free to wear their jeans as they like, but I don’t think it is some kind of conspiracy or that it is a symptom of a bigger issue that I wouldn’t otherwise think about because it is so prevalent that it has become acceptable and thus “norm”, to use your words. As I said in my post, these are little local idiosyncrasies that are not worth getting upset about.

            Anyway, we are getting all getting upset about what exactly? Briefs vs boxers? Really?

  10. Let mw tell you a little story: the first year I was in the USA, and fresh off the boat, my girlfriend and I were invited by some friends to spend a weekend at the beach. I was completely unaware of the Italian-wearing-speedo thing. The house our friends rented had a pool so, after 4 hours spent stuck in traffic on the highway, everybody thought that it was a great idea to dive in. So I changed my clothes and naturally wore my speedo (which I’ve been using since I was 3 and still do). When I showed up at the pool something unexpected to me happened: after a moment or two of silent shock, my girlfriend and her friends collapsed on the floor laughing hysterically. I was quite confused and started looking at myself to check out if there was some kind of prank going on at my expenses. Finally my friends had enough composure to explain me the reason of their laughing. My reaction was…I laughed harder than them! Right afterwards I went through all the Italian (or better Italian-American) stereotypes I could think of, and the rest of the evening was a lot of fun for everybody (and I kept wearing my speedo). During all this I never felt that there was a speedo/male physique attitude thing going on, or that they were making fun of the male, mine, body. It was just one of the typical culture shock/clash that any expatriate experience at every latitude and longitude in the world. In cases like this here is no conspiracy, no one is out to get you, it’s simply the meeting of different habits and idiosyncrasies. And when that happens I believe that the best resource to cope is to have a good sense of humor and an open mind – as long as racism or other nasty stuff is involved. In short: laugh at it, and be able to laugh at yourself, as wittingly as M does.

    • Thank you so much, Giovanni! That little story and its lesson were so well put! you’re absolutely right – as they say, “laughter is the best medicine”.
      Aw, I feel better now. Thanks,

  11. i have to admit, i still really dont get it. nor do i see where i was speaking for men in general. boh. i know very few men who dont speak for fear of ridicule and the majority of my career i’ve been working with and surrounded by men. ken, i do think much men bashing goes on in the world and i dont like it. nor do i like it when it happens to women. maybe the sarcasm/tongue-in-cheek tone of this blog doesnt translate well for everyone…. but the ability to laugh at ourselves and the funny dichotomies of life in general, especially bi-cultural differences is important to a mature and happy life. im sorry you dont get the underlying affection some comments are made with. im half convinced that m has stirred up the debate so we’ll keep reading this post…. IM TOTALLY KIDDING. lol

    and to end my diatribe, i feel very confident in saying that in general, ALL swimming attire is very uncomfortable. secondo me. 🙂

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  13. I am from Brazil and moved to Los Angeles like three years ago. I was used to seeing guys hot bodies on the beach. I loved looking at their muscular legs and butts. We are all about butts in Brazil. Then when I went to the beaches in california I was so dissapointed. Just no eye candy for me. I married a “surfer” dude who wore nothing but board shorts. I bought him some “sungas” which is what we call speedos over there and he was so offended. So I guess my situation is backwards. He says they look “gay”. Im starting to believe him!

    • I know exactly what you mean, Ana! When I go back home now I always think… wow, where’s the skin? But you’re right, in the States it’s associated with being gay for some reason.

  14. Board shorts and baggy jeans? That’s your idea of fashionable? Why not just dress your man in a hefty bag and be done with it?

  15. From what I see, this is a very typical attitude.
    Women in America think it is ok to make fun of and bash men to the point of second nature. The moment they are pointed out to it, they revert to, “oh, it is in good fun” and it is “tongue in cheek.”
    Perhaps women of today should wonder why they have this mindset. As your grandmothers, and certiainly women as recent as the 1980s, certainly do not.

    • I’m sorry, Ken, but I can’t keep having this conversation. I’m really over it. If you don’t want to read my blog, I’m not forcing you to.

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  17. As a man,an American man at that, perhaps I can enlighten you with why I & other men like me do wear speedos. Personally, I find the baggy shorts make it hard for me to swim, take forever to dry, and after a while leave marks (like I’ve been beaten) on my legs. For me the drying time and difficulty swimming are main issues because I’ve gotten sick because my suit and , although I am a strong swimmer, I have to work twice as hard and .Also in those shorts….sand gets places…places sand shouldn’t be. My final reason is because I like the supports it gives my boys instead of letting them just flop around and stick to my inner thighs. My fiance doesn’t seem to mind me wearing them as I have track/swimmers body. I like your insights and your blog. I’m not offended just offering a rational, calm, and hopefully helpful point of view.

      • your welcome, just wanted to provide an explanation that was not confrontational or displaying childish characteristics. I hope you forgive my horrible grammar on the last post. 🙂

  18. As a male I too much prefer wearing a “speedo” brief/bikini for the same reasons that anonymous mentioned. I also get cold really easy but I get less cold in a “speedo.” A “speedo” does not drag air and water like other suits. I too wish men wearing “speedos” was more acceptable in the U.S.; I do not like being made fun of or considered “gay” just for wearing a “speedo.” Women in the U.S. can wear swimwear next to their skin which lifts and supports like a “speedo” and often shows details; why can not men? Is there an aversion to the male form in the U.S.? Why the double standard?!

  19. Also, I chafe less in a “speedo”! I hope this point of view helps people understand the purpose of men (at least me) wearing “speedos.” I would suggest everyone to compare swimming in a form fitting suit to a non-form fitting suit.

    • That totally makes sense. And you and Mr Anonymous are right… the double standard is crazy. But it definitely does exist, doesn’t it? I wonder at what point in my social upbringing it started to make me uncomfortable. Because, like I said in the post, my dad always wore a speedo… or briefs, depending on the urgency of the swimming task. But something definitely happened around 7th/8th grade when all of the sudden it became very clear that this was completely unacceptable.

      Now, though, as I hope was evident by my ending, I really don’t have a problem with it. I am finding these comments and reactions fascinating though.

      Thanks for chipping in! You make a lot of sense, and I appreciate that. 🙂

  20. I’ll just add a few historical observations of my own, and perhaps someone else can do the analysis. When I was growing up in the 70s, ‘speedos’ (of whatever brand) were quite common. Stores like Woolco (in Canada), KMart, others had racks of them – all kinds of colours and patterns. In high school, and through university in the 80s I would say about 35-40% of guys wore speedo style swimwear in the pool, at the beach, pool parties, cutting the grass! Most others wore really short jean cutoffs – if anyone remembers that – speedos were actually a bit on the expensive side for the time – in fact it was kind of an issue where some pools (such as the university pools) didn’t allow them. I distinctly recall VERY few guys my age wore ‘trunks’. My grandfather wore ‘trunks’. Somewhere between the late ’80s to mid ’90s speedos really fell out of popularity, and I’m not completely sure why. But board culture of many kinds was coming alive in the 90s and they were bringing in what was then ‘alternative’ clothing styles etc. etc. I guess what mystifies me is how speedo type swimsuits got ghettoized as being ‘gay’. I have a number of gay friends who have no intention of ever wearing that style of swimsuit, and I have straight friends who wear almost nothing but. I wear speedo styles lots for fitness, at the beach, and at home – feels natural, dries fast, great minimal tan lines, much cooler and less baggy/sweaty than boardies, easy to wear under other clothes before/after. The only thing that annoys me is the perception of double standard between men and women on the aesthetic side. I mean females of ANY shape and body type and fitness level wear practically nothing (and show a lot more) to even the most family friendly beaches – and perhaps that is as it should be, I don’t know/care – but there is a social stigma about even a very fit guy wearing speedo style swimwear in a casual setting like a beach. Well there is in this corner of the world. Anyway I do what I want. I think they look good on me in an athletic way. I take care of myself and let other people worry about themselves. If you think you look good wearing them, fine by me. If you don’t care, so be it.

  21. I have tons of speedos and I love them. I’m not fat but I don’t look like Daniel Craig either. And I’m not really hairy.

    I much prefer boardies for the beach, but that’s because I don’t do any serious swimming there and I find it more convenient to just not change until I go back home or to the hotel.

    But I usually wear speedos in the pool, especially when I’m doing diving or freestyle. Other men choose to ruin their good looking boardies in the high chlorine pool. No one even wears a full body suit or jammers.

  22. Perhaps your husband has a speedo or spandex fetish? Since he had a collection while not really being into swimming? Did he continue wearing them under his new baggy shorts? Cause that’s what I do. I also wear speedos instead of my regular undies. That’s kind of… my thing. And yes, I do have a spandex fetish. Speedos are just the first stop for most of us 🙂

    Even if he says he don’t have it (this fetish thing, or kink), maybe he’s just never looked at it that way, so he never realized? Try buying him a pair of compression shorts or any other kind of skin-tight athletic gear, tell him it’s for “practice”, I think he’ll love having it on. All the time. Try with Under Armour (so he can be more equipped protecting the house) 😀 Or maybe he already enjoy those?
    BTW, judging from the pics American people post online, it seems to be more then acceptable to wear spandex compression gear over there. It’s about showing the body while hiding the skin I guess. For me as a fetishist it’s all about feeling great in tight elastic body coverage 🙂

    Whatever it is (was) he definitely liked his speedos, and I think you kind of ruined it for him. It surely made a little speedo wearing angel sad.

    • um. yeah. no.
      He doesn’t have a fetish. He never wears them. He doesn’t like them, he just has a bunch from over the years. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t ruin anything for him.

      I do like the idea of making “a little speedo wearing angel sad” though. 🙂

      I swear this post garners the oddest comments I’ve ever received.
      But thank you for sharing!

  23. I think it is a commentary on how Mother Nature is trying to curb the human population that heterosexual women found men’s bodies less attractive than gay men.

  24. I love how this blogger admits she misses that sexy Daniel Craig look. How don’t we Americans get it that Brazilian men are something to aspire to? A straight cisgender like me can appreciate
    Some man legs! Guys this is how we liberate women, by becoming peacocks. I swear that macho built carioca thing puts them in a good place for everyone. We don’t really want to be betas with decisive ruler- wives, do we? Sorry its complex…a lot of it’s homophobia, also western women will take the dominant role if a man won’t especially with her safe man partner. Don’t worry though ladies, continuing to receive female approval is all we really care about. Well, you know how vain some of us are. Just wore my square cuts to the pool. I was hated by betamen; and the females, all of them seemed jazzed in a good way.

  25. Funny, how this post still gathers weird comments. Honestly the article was a good laugh. However as mentioned before there is a double standard for men and women’s bodies when regarding beauty vs. not so beautiful. I think the true moral of the story is there’s someone for everyone and if you find someone hide your speedo or sunga( if you want to keep them) . But if that special someone likes them you’re all good.

  26. Yeap…turned my italian man into a board short fan as well. There is absolutely no way that speedo wearing was going to go on on my watch!!! You should have seen the face of my inlaws when they first saw him with those on…XD it was priceless

    • Of course, if a man tried to make you wear something you would scream misogyny don’t you? American women apparently likes their men emasculated literally (circumcision) and figuratively (male bulges cannot be seen as they are gross and dirty). Glad many European men avoid American women like the plague. Their antimale attitude is so second nature that it is to the point where they think it is funny.

  27. I’ve worn speedos for over 35 years now. Many times I go to the beach or our local pool and I am the only one wearing them. I still hear the snickering from some people but now I have the attitude that I just don’t care what others think. My friends had a pool party this past summer. I wore a pair there and no one said a thing. I guess they’ve gotten used to it. I even have a couple of photos on my facebook page and have gotten some nice compliments from some and a couple of negatives from others.

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