Jamie Walden asks if the rise in the popularity of onesies is a sign of society decaying.
Slavoj Zizek, Marxist philosopher and psychoanalytic theorist, has included in his public musings an observation presented to him by his friends who, unlike the strictly theoretical Zizek, psychoanalyse patients.
According to Zizek, patients confess their feelings of guilt to the analyst. Traditionally this will have been guilt borne from a hedonistic lifestyle; giving into perverse desires, having casual and promiscuous sex, taking drugs and so on. The society which pressures the individual to work hard, live monogamously, supress out of the ordinary desires and generally restrict the hedonistic impulse will have fed the individual’s guilty conscience for having those desires and for occasionally acting upon them.
However, Zizek contends that his psychoanalytic connections now notice an increase in the number of patients who feel guilty for precisely the opposite reason. It is if they are unable to enjoy sexual promiscuity and a hedonistic lifestyle that they feel guilty. Their problem is that they have not been self-indulgent enough, rather than overly so. A lack of casual sex, recreational drug use and excessive alcohol consumption has become guilt producing. Being self-indulgent has become a virtue and abstention from it has become something which shames people and causes them to visit psychoanalysts.
I cannot help but recognise this attitude of laziness, indulgence and self-absorption in the world around me, and, indeed, in myself. Far too many people spend far too much time watching television. Far too many people eat excessively- to the point in which they render themselves unable to do very much physical activity at all. And far too many people spend every weekend on various real-life versions of the Brave New World’s “soma” trying to obliterate the mind into a temporarily pleasant, numbing, stupidity. All of which it is now more common than ever to be proud of and contemptuous of those who do not comply as if they are a peculiarity who are missing out.
The ultimate symbol of this decadence must surely be the adult “onesie”. It is an outfit, usually worn by babies, which has been marketed to adults and advertised as the ‘world’s most comfortable piece of clothing’. Apparently the craze started in Norway in 2007 and has since extended widely and has been a big hit this Christmas. Ricky Gervais, Jamelia and Imogen Thomas have all either said on television that they wear one or have posted images of themselves online wearing them, in just the last month. Over the Christmas period, mass audience television programmes hosted by Alan Carr and Frank Skinner have included features on “onesies” or, a similar outfit known as the “snuggie”- a blanket with sleeves which looks oppressively and tyrannically comfortable.
As I said in my rather witless, but I think necessary title: “What the hell is going on?” Adults are willingly dressing like babies and are apparently quite proud of this. Facilitating your own ridiculously excessive cosy comfort is something that people are not merely doing, but are going out of their way to show off about, as if it represents an impressive laid back attitude, which could only be criticised by the uptight.
Bill Maher pointed this out in 2009 when the “snuggie” became fashionable in America. He remarked, whilst wearing the monstrosity for comic effect;
“It’s a blanket with sleeves. Oh, let’s call it was it really is- a full length bib. And we, the Americans now, are in danger of becoming a silly people. A people who couldn’t control their greed or self-indulgence, which is why every man, woman and child in America, owes China now, $6000. Imagine owing that to a bookie. On the other hand, this is so cosy. And look, my arms are free… so the Chinese can break them. Believe me, if the Chinese get a look at us in our snuggies, and they will, they make the fucking thing I’m sure, they’re going to decide ‘We can’t buy any more treasury bills from these people, they’re wearing blankets with sleeves. Of course they’re not gonna pay us back’”
Maher continues in full flow and on good form;
“In his speech before congress on Tuesday, the President pointed out that we’re addicted to oil, can’t afford health care, our education system is broken, our economy is near collapse, and the day of reckoning has arrived. But many members of congress didn’t hear all that, because during the speech they were twittering, which is when you type out little messages on your hand-held device to tell everyone what you’re doing right now, like ‘I’m displaying the very self-absorption that will destroy us all’…
“You know, Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but at least he knew how to play an instrument. Folks, this is not a drill, this is the real thing. Our booze cruise has hit the iceberg and I don’t want it to sink. We all need to get involved and learn how to do things, and make things again.”
I think it was well put.
An adult willingly dressing like a baby is the biggest symbol of complacency, laziness and decadence one will ever see. I wrote an article on this website a few months ago in which I said “Selflessness, patience and control are no longer considered to be virtues- they are much too wet. Instead bullishly standing up for your own personality and fully expressing yourself in whatever way your urges and desires feel like expressing themselves at the time is considered to be the height of human activity”.
Surely the increasing popularity of baby grows for adults demonstrate this to be so. If one feels like living as a toddler, despite being an adult, then they can, and they not only do not feel guilty about it, but it is those who restrain their hedonistic impulse who are beginning to feel pressured and guilty.
It seems to me that the “onesie” and the “snuggie” are merely filling in, whilst we wait for the real soma to arrive.