It appears that FINA, the international governing body of swimming, has finally realized what the fashion world has known since the first caveman had the hem on his saber-toothed tiger skins taken up so he could quickly leap for the nearest antelope unencumbered. What you put on your body is sometimes as important as what you put in your body.
In July, FINA issued a fashion edict of sorts, banning the type of full-body swimsuits that include some styles of Speedo's LZR Racer, which some think give competitive swimmers an unfair edge because they use NASA-developed technology to decrease friction. Michael Phelps wore one to break records at the Beijing Olympics.
The group is currently working on the details of the ban, which is expected to regulate the size and materials that can be used.
But let's face it, Phelps is a bong-smoking human dolphin who probably could have won the same medals wearing one of those metal-helmeted atmospheric diving suits, but now that the door seems wide open on banning "performance-enhancing" apparel, where will the fashion police turn next?
Batman, turn in your tights
The next logical step is getting Batman, Spider-Man and their costume-clad ilk to turn in their tights. It's far too easy to strike fear into the hearts of criminals when you're sporting Underoos and a pair of bat ears. A true crime fighter should be able to clean up Gotham wearing an Ed Hardy "Love Kills Slowly" foil-screen T-shirt, True Religion Big Stitch jeans and a scowl.
Spanx? No thanx!
While we're at it, why not go ahead and outlaw Spanx? This line of slimming, smoothing undergarments includes an insidious secret weapon: the Hide & Sleek full bodysuit. Spanx is used by women the world over for one reason and one reason only: to gain competitive advantage over their less svelte-seeming sisters in the battle to attract men. Let's level the playing field by letting it all hang out. (Obviously, the same goes for the various assortment of man-Spanx on the market.)
Trash 'tummy tuck' jeans
Less obvious than the full-body Ace bandages above, and therefore perhaps even more dangerous, jeans that offer to lift and shape that generous figure into something a bit less so would certainly qualify for a ban. One popular brand trumpets it thusly at its website: "Not Your Daughter's Jeans are here to flatten your tummy, lift your butt and allow you to wear one size smaller."
KO the codpiece
It might not have been in vogue since Shakespeare's time (or in Vogue since the last fashion issue) but it bears mentioning that the full-frontal fakery that is the codpiece (essentially an athletic cup minus the athletics) would be a verboten accessory under FINA's reasoning. Anyone who scoffs at the idea of the codpiece as performance-enhancing apparel probably hasn't seen the legendary Tom Jones in concert. (You didn't think all those ladies were howling to hear "What's New Pussycat?," did you?)
From here it's not much of a leap to banning underwire bras, belts, high-heel shoes and power ties. Start banning clothing that gives any kind of competitive edge and the slippery suit leads down a slippery slope. Soon, we could all be back to wearing saber-toothed skins and chasing antelope again.