Any woman that has bought a suit knows that many come equipped with shoulder pads. When I was a child trying on my mom's clothes, I merely thought these pads signified being "grown-up." I often wondered why little kids clothes did not possess the same material. Twenty years and a 30-foot closet later, my opinion on the purpose of shoulder pads has morphed into a very clear statement: the X-Factor. The X-Factor refers to many things, including a television show, a special characteristic of prowess, and for the blog at bar, a perfect body.
Look at Arnold or Dennis Wolf and you will learn the essence of the X-Factor: large, capped shoulder muscles [deltoids], wide back, a tiny, tapered waist accented by sweeping, flared quads. From the back, it looks like an X. From the chronicles of bodybuilding, it looks like perfection. It is every kid's dream when they begin their path into this harrowing sport.
Not everyone is blessed genetically to obtain the X-Factor. Hence why it is a factor. No matter what an athlete does in the gym, he or she cannot widen their clavicles. An absence of the infrastructure engenders an absence of the actual beauty of large shoulders. Look at Kai Greene, a highly successful bodybuilder, and you will see his narrow clavicles - his large shoulder caps look unattractive in proportion.
Another genetic barrier to the X-Factor is waist thickness. A lot of physique athletes have thick waists, which takes away from shoulder width. A 30 or less inch waist is desirable - and can, in some cases, be acheived with strict dieting, wearing a weight belt and avoiding oblique exercises. You'll never see me in the gym without my weight belt, cinched in to 25-27 inches. Without the belt, my muscles would naturally grow - this I do not want.
Lastly, and most importantly, comes the bottom half of the X shape: the quad sweep. This is the part where all the college boys at the Kent State Rec Center fall off the wagon. In fact, strong, well-developed legs signal muscle maturity that only comes with extreme training and dedication. You can always tell a novice lifter from a pro based on legs. For ladies, legs are trouble spots. I don't care how much cardio you do - I used to swim for 4 hours a day as a college swimmer, and my legs were never defined. A year into my weight training, my legs became the part that everyone talks about. What does that tell you? The best bodies are built with weights, not cardio.
So this brings me back to the idea of shoulder pads in business suits. I believe the pads are artifically created deltoid muscles, placed stratigically to make a woman's shoulders look like the top of the X. Because women naturally have wider hips, they have more sweeping quads. Thus, I believe business suits attempt to mimic the X-Factor.
This hypothesis cuts against what popular rhetoric says on the ideal shape of a female. Most women cringe at the idea of building up their shoulders or quads, fearing a lack of femininity. Yet their beliefs may, in fact, be hampering their ability to succeed in a business environment that admires physical symmetry.
These days, I don't try on my mom's clothes. I wear my own proudly - after I cut out the shoulder pads. I don't need to artificially create the X-Factor. I've already got it.