Every parent has wondered why teens wear hoodies when it’s a million degrees outside. It seems to be more the norm than not.
I live in New England, where we experience four seasons and temperatures that can range from -40 with a wind chill factor in the winter to nearly 100 and humid in summer.
As a parent, this means that my kids basically have two wardrobes each; one for hot and humid and one for cold. All was fine and dandy until my kids started to hit the tween years.
Suddenly, they refused to wear jackets in the winter but insisted on wearing hoodies in the summer.
If you think I don’t look at my kids and wonder what the hell is wrong with them, then you would be dead wrong.
And I’m definitely not alone; there are viral memes everywhere that showcase the absurdity that is trying to get a tween or teen to dress appropriately for the weather.
Remind your kids to take a coat to school so the inside of their backpacks can be toasty warm all day while they freeze to death at recess.
— Domestic Goddess (@DomesticGoddss) November 7, 2017
If you wear a hoodie in the summer you are .
A: in middle school
B: on drugs
It’s fucking 98 degrees
— Xani Bars (@tyforyourpie) July 29, 2022
In 2020, The Atlantic ran an interesting article that asked why tween and teen boys seem to love wearing shorts in the winter.
Where I live, winter means deep snow packs, fridge temps, and definitely wearing multiple layers to survive.
My husband wears flannel lined jeans to work.
I wear felted wool socks and complain about the thermostat. My sons?
They would wear basketball shorts with their winter coats while shoveling the driveway if I let them.
The Atlantic points out that many parents believe the reason may be that growing kids likely are warmer and maybe don’t need the extra layers.
After all, they run around, working up a sweat. But a pediatrician pointed out that kids’ temperatures average around d98 or 99 degrees, which isn’t enough to protect them from a blast of arctic air.
But Phyllis Fagell, a therapist and author of Middle School Matters, had a different take.
She told The Atlantic that boys in particular are likely responding to social cues that tell boys to be macho and brave.
They “have such a desire to not seem like a baby” and are “suddenly so aware of societal messages about what it means to be tough, and what it means to be masculine,” she said during the interview.
But that doesn’t explain why my teen son insists on wearing a hoodie when it is sweltering hot outside.
And that’s where our scientist dad comes into the conversation.
Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a climate scientist, and noted meteorologist, penned a fascinating look at the phenomenon of teens wearing hoodies when it’s oppressively hot outside.
He found some interesting points that totally make sense.
In a Forbes essay that has gone viral, Dr. Shepherd shares that perhaps the real reason why teens wear hoodies is not that they are somehow immune to thermodynamics.
But his theory? The hoodie acts much like a weighted blanket.
It started when Dr. Shepherd, a parent who is flustered by his teen son’s refusal to take off his hoodie when the temps soar, read this essay by Ian Lecklitner in Mel Magazine titled, “Stop Bagging on People Who Wear Hoodies During Summer.”
Some of the reasons why Lecklitner sings the praises of the classic hoodie included things like UV protection and extra pockets (who among us doesn’t love that?)
But it was a comment about comparing a hoodie to a weighted blanket that struck a chord with Dr. Sheperd.
“…perhaps hoodies serve a similar function as weighted blankets. I know this has been around for years, but I personally noticed it more after the Covid-19 pandemic. While speculative, the pandemic certainly was an emotionally-jarring stimulus for this generation,” Dr. Shepherd wrote.
There is plenty of science to back up the claim that weighted blankets can help ease anxiety in humans and even animals.
They have become so popular over the last few years (hello, dumpster fire End Times) that you can now find weighted hoodies on Amazon.
So, maybe, just maybe, the reason our kids are wearing the wrong attire for the weather has nothing to do with being space cadets or annoyingly difficult.
Perhaps our kids are trying to tell us something about their state of mind. Maybe they want to be treated as more mature, and maybe they need to self-soothe.
All of this to say, unless my kid is getting frostbite or keeling over from heat stroke, I’ll mind my own business and let my kids express themselves through their wardrobe, however dumb I think it looks.