Sleeveless shirt nipple exposure

A look we do not endorse: the gaping armhole, nipple-exposing, homemade muscle shirt. You can't go shirtless at a gym, so why is this look acceptable?

While we care about fashion, in general, we don’t care about gym fashion — if you want to drop a few hundred dollars on Lululemon attire, go for it, but we don’t think it’s necessary. However, we do advocate good gym etiquette. From time to time, we’ll write about this subject. This is one of those times.

Exercising regularly at a gym is also an exercise in compromise: you get to look fit, even though there are other places you’d rather be, other things you’d rather be doing, and other people you’d rather see naked than the midlife-crisis guy who struts around locker room. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize gym annoyances. You get in and out of the locker room briskly. You wear headphones to block out the cacophony of bench-press grunts and sped-up dance versions of pop songs. You hold your breath when a phantom fart pollutes the air in the cardio area.

sleeveless shirt dude side boob

Dude side boob: WTF?

But there is one breach of gym etiquette that can’t be tolerated anymore: men who expose their nipples outside the locker room. More specifically, men who turn into a narcissistic male version of Martha Stewart, and make their own sleeveless shirts made to showcase their ribs, pecs and man nipples.

If you workout at a gym in Chicago, you’ve probably encountered guys wearing these shirts, and you’ve probably encountered some gym nipples. Make no mistake, these are no nip slips. When you wear a shirt with armholes that are only appropriate for Ganesha and “The Man Whose Arms Exploded,” nipple exposure is far from incidental. It’s an open invitation to scope a bare upper body. Nobody wants to RSVP, and yet, we’re all forced to, at least for a brief, nightmare inducing second.

If you wear these shirts and think its impressive or sexy, you’re wrong. You look like a fool trying too hard, like someone who hasn’t grasped how to function around adults, like a Facebook user who’s never found a shirtless photo of himself not worth posting online. And please don’t make the argument that this is a comfort issue, or an “I need to see my muscles in the mirror to ensure proper workout form” issue. If a properly fitted tank top doesn’t give you the comfort and visual aids you need, may we suggest using P90X at your home, where you can showcase your nipples to Tony Horton and no one else (please close the blinds and pull down the shades).

Just to be fair: we might find this sexy, but it's so not appropriate for the gym. Unless your gym is in the American Apparel headquarters.

Do not mistake this as a screed against legitimate bodybuilders, who’ve been known to wear a string tank top from time to time. Much respect to those dedicated dudes who are big enough to fill out tank tops in a way that doesn’t result in nipple protrusion. The guys we are singling out rarely wear actual string tank tops. These guys take a normal t-shirt, and don’t just cutoff the sleeves (which is totally fine), but cut out a gaping hole on the side of the shirt that extends to about the waistline (which is totally not fine). This is intentional. This is moronic. There should be a two-day waiting period and wardrobe audit before men can buy a pair of scissors.

We presume that no matter what we say on this subject, and no matter how much we urge our fellow men keep their nipples under wraps, the best weapon in the fight against gym nipples is women. So ladies, in the comment section below, feel free to explain how dumb you find these shirts, and how unappealing it is to look at male nipples during your workouts. If for some reason you’re in favor of a little male sideboob at the gym, well, you can voice your opinion in that direction as well. But if you start seeing hairy, flabby dude boob at your local fitness center, don’t blame us. Your words are powerful enough to cause a nipple effect.