Among the many manly-men who like to watch pro sports, there has been near-universal dismay over Tom Brady’s new embrace of UGGs boots. (“Embrace” is a relative term, of course. It’s doubtful he’d adore them so much if he weren’t being paid to do so). “I’m not sure all guys today want to be Tom Brady,” wails a writer on ESPN.com. On Technorati.com, local PR guy Don Martelli moans, “The Gisellification of Tom Brady continues.’’
The gripe is that our Tom, once a reliably All-American male, has been giving in too heavily to his feminine side, beginning with the time he snuggled a baby goat in a GQ photo spread, and extending down a slippery, rose-scented slope to his Justin Bieber tresses. Justin Bieber is not a manly teenager.
Gisele Bundchen routinely gets blamed for turning Tom all delicate, but in fact, he was a fashion hound before they started dating. They had just begun their relationship when he posed in a wet t-shirt in VMAN magazine, as somebody poured water on his head. At the time, a VMAN editor told me that the model behavior was “all Tom.” More to the point, UGGs are hardly the ultimate symbol of femininity. The ubiquitous sheepskin boots are hardly feminine at all; they’re thick, shapeless, comfortable, and totally utilitarian. They’re the winter equivalent of Crocs. The fact that they’ve been embraced by the Hollywood set, followed by every teenage girl in America, is in some ways the ultimate “ha” to a fashion industry that urges women to wear skin-tight shirts and unhealthily-high heels. UGGs are overpriced, ugly, and pathetically trendy, but as fashion artifacts, they’re impressively gender-neutral. If Tom Brady were to start endorsing lip gloss, the manly men would have far greater cause for concern.