If you’re a parent of a teen (or maybe a minor), then you probably understand what this article is about. I have a 15 year old son wearing a long sleeve hoodie on this hot Georgia summer. I recently tweeted about this on my Twitter page and many people vented about it. I am a past president and climate scientist of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). I know a bit about heat, so this observation has been bugging me. I decided to use my curiosity and scientific training to explore if there is any science behind why teens wear hoodies in the summer heat.
For context, the climate is warming and summers are likely to get hotter.I wrote a paragraph in it Forbes Details how the temperature distribution changes. The extreme calorific values of decades ago are becoming more and more “normal” today. Parts of Europe recently experienced “the first time in record time” heat, as did parts of the US Pacific Northwest. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects much of the country to experience “above-normal” temperatures for much of August, just as many school districts across the country begin classes. However, I doubt the heat will stop the hoodie.
As a scientist, my first desire is to explore the outside world. My first stop was not an academic journal.This is Ian Lecklitner at mel magazine Titled “Stop bagging hoodies on summer wearers”. He went on to list several reasons, including:
- Protects against carcinogenic ultraviolet (UV) radiation
- Armor against pesky mosquitoes
- more pockets
- body image issues
Frankly, these all make sense to me. My own son even said some of his classrooms were cold. One explanation that really caught my attention was in line with the many tweet explanations. “Hoodies don’t just provide physical comfort; they also provide emotional comfort, similar to a weighted blanket,” wrote Lake Litner.
Ah, this is where the scientific literature comes into play. I hurried to find a friend of the Ivory Tower Academic Fellow – Google Scholar. I typed the term “weighted blanket” into the search bar. Surprisingly (at least to me), there are surprising long-term studies on the use of weighted blankets to support people with autism, insomnia, or coping with anxiety or ADHD.
In his article, Lake Litner hypothesized that perhaps a hoodie would act like a weighted blanket. I know this has been around for years, but I personally noticed more after the Covid-19 pandemic. Although speculative, the pandemic has certainly been an emotional boost to this generation.
A quick search of my favorite shopping app revealed that a weighted hoodie is actually a “thing”. who knows? There are also many collections of hoodies designed in lighter, breathable fabrics. Mike Benge recently pioneer magazine, “While summer is the season for ‘sun, gun-proof’ dress for some, more and more trail runners are waking up to the sun protection, versatility and even the benefits of ultralight long-sleeve hoodies. The seamless crossover style runs to the bar (post-Corona of course!).”
My own research has changed my mind on this topic and I will stop harassing my son. If he’s comfortable (and doesn’t die of heatstroke), I’m good to go. Hopefully, this “hoodie” generation will also help to dispel social prejudice or perceptions of young people of color wearing hoodies.