The other day I decided that I was going to confront my fear of jeans.
Everyone at work is always talking about “getting” to wear jeans. They’re so “comfortable” and “casual.” Who are these people and what kind of jeans are they buying?
When I contemplate putting jeans on, when I even so much as glance at the one surviving pair of jeans I have hanging in my closet, comfort is the furthest thing from my mind. I go straight to constriction, inflexible, inner-thigh holes, muffin-top, flat butt. I go to all the jeans I used to have that I can’t fit into anymore. I go all the way back to my first pair of Joe’s jeans with a patterned patch on the rear pocket my mom bought me when I was in tenth grade and a size 27. I go there and I feel the (by now) predictable onslaught of old, buried feelings; I feel a wave of familiarly crushing failure, of humiliation that I had to give away an expensive pair of jeans (and then several increasingly larger pairs) because they no longer came up past my thighs. I still go there, my non-teenage self, about eight years later.
Why can’t I give myself a break???
Anyway, so it’s getting cool out, crisp and breezy, and I was standing outside on my lunch break and staring at this girl’s butt. It was an average butt, nothing spectacular, she wasn’t a rail, just normal. And I thought to myself, there’s no reason I can’t have a comfortable, warm, weather-appropriate pair of jeans.
And so I walked, very purposefully, mind you, to Nordstrom Rack, feeling ready to be self-accepting, ready to fight any implications of any particular numbers on any particular tags, and to just find a pair that fit. Comfortably.
But despite my determination and my relatively calm, collected mindset before the lunchtime shopping extravaganza (challenge, really), I found myself hesitating to take the size 32s off the racks, and sticking to the 31s. That one extra inch, something in my head just wouldn’t let me go there.
The first pair of 31s didn’t even come close to buttoning. They didn’t even entirely clear my thighs. And I knew this would happen, too.
… the thoughts started to bubble up, I could feel them forming and festering, like water being heated on a stove, little bubbles at first, then bigger, stronger, threatening to blow the lid clear off. I’ve never worn bigger than a 32, and the way these jeans were fitting (or straining, rather), it seemed like I’d have to go all the way up to maybe a 34, and they rarely even carry that size on the racks. Soon I won’t be able to shop at regular department stores. Soon I’ll know names like Lane Bryant and have to buy jeans at Costco and wear only miu mius and black. Lots of black…
I struggled to keep that lid down on those thoughts. I fought hard. Because I know where that leads, letting the thoughts spill out and over, and I refused to spend the rest of my day under a big, thick cloud of self-loathing, debating whether to throw in the towel on the whole intuitive eating, trust-your-own-body thing and just get back on Weight Watchers. Quick and easy fix.
Like a Band-Aid.
What deeper issues?
Nothing’s wrong, just fat. Fat’s in the way.
I carefully peeled those jeans off my bulging thighs – how had I not noticed before walking in here how soft and offensively BULGING they are??? – and bit my mental tongue as I tried on the next pair.
Here’s where I stopped feeling shitty about myself, blaming myself, (okay I didn’t stop I just lightened up on the self-hatred a teensy bit) and instead got really pissed.
Same brand – True Religion. Same size – 31. And they buttoned.
No, they didn’t fit comfortably, but they fit one hell of a lot more comfortably than the previous pair. Same number on the sewn-in tag, but undoubtedly different sizes, unless there was some kind of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants bullshit going on.
I can at least begin to understand how sizes might vary from one brand to the next, but within the same brand? It just doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t make any sense at all and what infuriates (and saddens) me even more is that I know there are so many women out there who are beating themselves up over these numbers. These numbers rule our lives. And they’re not even reliable.
I don’t know what I’m suggesting. I know it’s not possible to throw out the whole sizing system and start afresh, with everything matching up perfectly and consistently across the board, from California to Italy to China (though I’m not aware of any Chinese designers…). But I just wish we could take some of the stigma off of certain numbers, and, because I know I’m not dramatically overweight, if I’m even technically overweight at all, and because I know there are probably tons of girls just that little bit bigger than me who would love to shop at Nordstrom Rack, I wish the good, quality jeans-makers would go bigger than a size 32. How is that the biggest size on the rack? Why is that where they draw the line?
Well, I left the dressing room empty-handed and bought myself a nice, size-free Steve Madden purse. Because purses are non-threatening.