Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jeans: The Destroyers of Worlds

I don't wear pants very often. Hardly ever. That is to say I am a fan of the skirt and the dress very much so. There's just something about putting on a skirt or dress that seems easy yet sophisticated to me-- I mean, a dress is just one piece and you can't get much simpler than that. You can feel a breeze on your legs and you can look tres chic as you cross your legs and sip tea. Dresses and skirts always allow for optimum heel-wearing. I know some people feel nervous about these garments because they don't love their legs or are afraid of giving an accidental peepshow, but for me they're the only thing. They always make me feel lovely.

What keeps me from wearing pants is the process of trying on pants.

The other day my mother offered me some money with which to buy new jeans for college. I accepted on the premise that this was free money, but knew that this was the start of a downward spiral into an emotional breakdown. Buying jeans has never been a pleasant process for me. I think it really started getting harrowing, though, after I got really skinny and then... stopped being really skinny. Of course, when I was a size 4 that seemed too disgustingly huge in my warped little sense of reality, but the more weight I slowly gained back, the more jeans became The Enemy.

This is hard to explain when I consider the fact that I feel as if I am so much more body-positive now, larger, than I ever was when I was such a very socially acceptable size. When I look in the mirror, I do see things that I don't prefer, but I work hard to climb Mt. Self Acceptance and reassure myself that I am indeed smokin' hot and all that. I try not to allow myself to focus on my flaws or to be overly critical of myself. I can look at myself, naked or in clothes, and see someone of worth and beauty and all those wonderful things, even without the help of my very supportive and amazing boyfriend. I think I'm in a good place. I was much harder on myself and much more hateful of my body when I was very skinny. That's not to say large or small is definitively better-- more like that now I have a better body image and can thus make decisions about my body out of kindness and interest for its health and wellbeing rather than to punish it in order to be thinner (thus prettier, as society wants us to believe) than the next girl. And really I mean all the posts I make here about self-love and all that.

But it's complicated. When I shop for jeans, I remember it's complicated.

I decided to go because my mother wanted me to and so did my boyfriend, who loves when I wear jeans. So he and I walked into an Old Navy and I went over to the giant wall of pants and took a deep breath. For some reasons, pants make numbers seem to matter to me. When I think about how the number is probably bigger now, I get this sick feeling inside. I love myself. I shouldn't get that feeling, but I do. This post is me being honest with you-- we can love ourselves and still get those sick feelings and revert to feeling like society tells us we should feel. It's awful, and as far as I've come I haven't overcome that feeling.

I took several pairs of pants into the dressing room. The woman who opened the door for me smiled-- she obviously didn't realize I felt like I was walking the Green Mile. One size, the smallest I chose, didn't even go all the way up my thighs. I took a deep breath. I felt myself spiraling, already fed up with the process and wanting to march myself home. I whispered "oh, no..." softly in frustration. I tried the next size up. They buttoned but I quickly realized I was unable to sit normally in them and upon closer inspection, I resembled a sausage with major camel toe. Spiraling faster now. I tried the third pair, the largest and a size I really didn't want to admit myself I could possibly wear again-- but sizes don't matter, right? It's easy to say but somehow the value our society tries to place on them is much harder to block out. It's just a number. It means nothing. It's the designation of an amount of fabric. It will all be okay, I tell myself. I am not any different because of a stupid pair of pants. I woke up and got dressed and thought I looked pretty. This does not change it.

These pants were egregiously large. I laughed to myself the way lunatics do in the movies when faced with their own defeat. I scoffed, I suppose, at the ludicrousness of it all.

Luke, my boyfriend, asked when I got out if I found anything. I frowned at him. He put his arm around me.

"I don't want to do this," I said. "I don't want pants."

"Do what you want," he replied. "I can't force you to buy jeans."

"Well I don't want them! I never want to wear jeans again! I wouldn't if I had the choice! Tights aren't that much colder in the winter anyway...."

I felt slightly bad knowing how much he likes it when I wear pants, but I just never feel mentally prepared to try on pants. As soon as a pair I hope will fit doesn't, the jig is up and the *ahem* crap hits the fan. It's over, I can't do it anymore without going on a rampage that takes the lives of thousands of innocents. It's bad. For some reason, though, I never ever never ever never get this angry when a dress or skirt doesn't fit. I can't explain why, but dresses and skirts just seem to treat me more kindly when they refuse to go on my body. I was a bit sad recently that the largest size in a certain Express dress was slightly too small, but I didn't feel like never wearing a dress again or going home and crying. It was okay. But jeans? It's never okay when I try on jeans.

There is something about the size of a pair of jeans that flicks a very bad switch in my brain. It's hard to explain, really. But in this moment I never want to wear pants again. It's not worth the blow to my self-esteem.

Do you hate trying on jeans? Love it? How do you deal with/prepare for the stress that comes with entering a dressing room?


Anonymous said...

I've yet to meet anyone who enjoys pants shopping. I would be interested in finding out if pants shopping or swimsuit shopping was more hated.

Miss Peregrin said...

Jeans are fine for me, but shorts! Shorts are my shopping kryptonite. If anything can reduce me to a blubbering changeroom mess, it is shopping for shorts.

Laells said...

Bra shopping and pants shopping do that to me.

If I find something that fits awesome and I like it and I have the money, I'll buy two of them. I've done that with bras and pants quite a few times.

Anonymous said...

I know that feeling. Buying jeans is one of the biggest self-esteem-kick-downs you can get, because you don't feel free wearing too tight jeans. It's like being pressed in a tiny cell you don't want to fit it.
Generally, I prefer skirts and dresses, too, but since I put off weight, I like wearing a treggings (something between a leggings and trousers, very comfortable if you wear a long shirt on it) or a skinny jeans (which is not too skinny on me anymore) once in a while.
But I feel more confortable in dresses and tights, it's just easier and I have the feeling of being more liberate.

Jem said...

I am in the same boat as you, I cannot stand pants shopping, it tends to make me want to cry. So once a year I mentally prepare myself for jeans shopping and then I go. I find that Old Navy never fits my size (I have a long torso+short legs= impossible to find jeans) so instead I shop at the Gap. Yes, their pants are a bit pricer then Old Navy but they fit me better and I have a feeling they might fit you as well. I'm normally fine when shopping for clothes, size doesn't matter but when it comes to jeans for some reason if a pair doesn't fit it tends to get me down. I would much rather wear skirts and dresses every day if I could (and for the most part I do) but sometimes jeans are important too! Also, cheer up, you will find the right pair for you don't you worry! :)

pavotrouge said...

I actually bought my first pair or jeans/casual pants in four years yesterday. for me it's not the shopping for them that freaks me out (they always seem great when I try them on), but actually wearing them. Jeans are so uncomfortable.

Kelly said...

I think for some reason I always have much higher hopes for jeans than anything else. A dress gives me weird proportions? eh, that's OK. But jeans don't? I feel like I've failed at life.

I think it's because jeans feel like they SHOULD be easy because so many people wear them every day and they are so casual. So when they're not easy, I immediately feel as if I've failed at life. Skirts on the other hand, which actually *are* easier for me, always seem like they *should* be difficult so if I try 5 on and none look good, I am somehow prepared for that and I don't let it get me down so much.

Weesha said...

I know what you mean about preferring dresses and skirts, I just have 2 pairs of jeans and I hardly wear them.

But jeans shopping was never a hassle for me because I usually buy them from plus size brands, I figure they know more about curves as opposed to stores that focus on straight sizes. My friends and I buy our jeans at Dororthy Perkins, I've never even checked Levi's or Old Navy.

The problem is the stupid store for not having a good fit, it's the clothes job to fit around your body not the other way around.

And honestly, even I have issues with going a size up sometimes and when the 'size doesn't matter' line fails to work I just remind myself that nobody but me is going to see the size tag hehe.

Anonymous said...

Jeans shopping can be frustrating even if you're fine with your size. For one thing, I'm 5'2", and most jeans seem to be made for women much taller (and some capris fit like full length jeans). There's about 4 different sizes that might fit me, so I always have to take at least 3 sizes of each pair into the fitting room, only to find that I really wish they made half sizes. I feel like I look out of proportion and lumpy in leggings and skinny jeans. I used to be underweight and gained about 20 pounds, which makes me happy except that I've been wearing painfully tight jeans out of fear of shopping for new ones.

I definitely agree with you that body image matters more than size itself, because even being a socially acceptable size, I usually feel terrible about how I look.

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