Back in January, when we were still free to move about the country, I took a trip to Key West for a music festival. Traveling by air is a dicey proposition for me. Like a lot of people, the changes in altitude, cabinet pressure, and the two drinks it takes for me to not be a crazy person on a plane have side effects. Namely, I blow up like a tick. Good times.
I had a three-hour drive from the airport in Miami to Key West and once I got off the plane, it became apparent that there was no way on God’s green Earth that I was going to make that drive comfortably in the pants I was wearing. Not if I wanted to keep breathing.
Mind you, I was still in that post-Christmas cookie phase where skinny jeans were most likely not a good idea to begin with. What I needed were some fat pants.
I did what any woman in search of comfort would do, I strolled right into the nearest Miami Old Navy and bought a pair of cheap pants a size up from what I was wearing. The kind with a little stretch. I could now spend the rest of my vacation in comfort. Winning.
I have spent most of the pandemic in sunny Arizona where I could get away with wearing flowy dresses for months on end, effectively staving off the need to push my legs through anything more cumbersome than yoga pants. But, it’s chilly now and that push has come to shove.
Quarantine was all fun and games until we had to put on pants. That ended the party right quick.
Heading out for a few days of relaxation in Colorado after the election, I drove for 8 hours in those Miami-bought “fat jeans” and I thought they were going to sever me in half. An hour in, I had them unbuttoned.
If I left the house during my vacation, I fashioned a hair tie into a button extender like I was trying to hide five months of pregnancy. I wish I was kidding.
Any woman who has ever felt getting into jeans would be easier with Crisco and a shoe horn knows the damage to one’s psyche this does, especially when those jeans were already bought a size larger than we normally wear.
In a nutshell, I felt really, horribly fat. The kind of fat that creates moments of desperation where we Google how much liposuction costs and what the downtime is.
When I got home, I vowed to correct the direction of pandemic pounds and get my growing ass in gear. Still, there was this looming issue of declining temperatures and a lack of comfortability. I was left with two choices: continue to shove myself in jeans that didn’t fit or succumb to buying just one pair that was a size larger. Again.
It’s 2020. We’re living in a dumpster fire. The fact that I’m not in a room with padded walls sometimes feels like accomplishment enough.
It’s totally normal to assume that maybe our fat jeans might turn into our skinny jeans. We change shape with none of the superpowers of being an actual Transformer.
I cut myself some slack and succumbed to once again venturing to Old Navy in search of cheap jeans. Cheap is a selling point when you convince yourself your size is temporary.
I searched my closet for those stupid jeans I had been wearing so I knew what the next size up would be. Then I laughed. Hard. I had been walking around in the jeans I discarded in January, not the new ones I bought in Miami. I had been trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans that should only be attempted after spending exactly 839 hours on an elliptical machine.
Digging through my closet, I found the Miami jeans and tried them on. They fit. Perfectly. I looked up the measurements of the jeans that did fit versus the ones that didn’t. I don’t know why I did this. I know my measurements and maybe I was trying to justify my skinny jeans not fitting. It worked.
I had been trying to squeeze 153 pounds of 46-year-old woman into jeans with a 28-inch waistband. Who the hell has a 28-inch waistband? And who makes a size 8 with a 28-inch waistband?
I ordered two more pairs of size 10 jeans while contemplating what I would say in my strongly worded letter to Those In Charge of Sizing at Old Navy. When the jeans arrived, I tried them on and stood in my bedroom in front of a full-length mirror. I felt like a completely different woman.
Two weeks before, I felt fat. I pinched my muffin top. I tried to pull my pants higher to hide it. Not a good look, by the way. Always choose muffin top over camel toe. Always.
I hated my body for two whole weeks knowing I should be more accepting of myself. I knew this year had been tough and gaining a couple of pounds should not tailspin me into body shaming self-loathing. But it did.
Standing there in the right size jeans, I felt good. I felt sexy. I texted my boyfriend to tell him how cute my butt looked. Moreover, I was not going to pass out or throw up from restricted air and blood flow.
I suddenly loved the look of my curves, the shape of quads I earned doing squat reps with over 200 pounds, and the way my legs still looked long. I had convinced myself that if I saw myself on the street, I would be jealous of me. That might have been too much.
Our size is a damn number and, clearly, an arbitrary one at that. Vanity sizing has ruined our perception. Media has skewed our ideals. Inconsistency has created confusion. The need to shrink and shrink and shrink had made us routinely feel not good enough.
The TL;DR? Forget the friggin’ label and wear clothes that fit. Shame should not come tucked quietly into the pocket of our jeans.
No one should ever have to sacrifice comfort in order to feel smaller. That’s insanity. How sexy we are or feel should not depend on a random number on a label. It should come from owning our bodies and feeling confident in them.
No one is privy to what the size of our clothes is. No one knows but us so we are in charge of our perception of that number. It shouldn’t matter if the dress we’re wearing is a 6, a 12, or a 22. There is nothing sexy about being uncomfortable. There is nothing liberating about have our skin pinched and having to suck anything in. That’s a hellscape.
Where we are right now is our spot. I want to own that. I want to stop comparing myself to other women, advertisements, media expectations, and crazy-ass narratives that I don’t find useful.
I want to be comfortable inside and out. What would really help is if stores would employ a woman that just eye-balls our bodies and picks out things without telling us the size. Just hands us clothes that fit us nicely and lets us be none the wiser. I’m adding that to my letter to Old Navy.