Jeans

One of the things I fear most about blogging is that I don’t share enough of myself. In real life, I probably share almost too much. I love food and fitness, style and fun trips, but when it comes down to it, I want my blog to truly reflect my personality and I’m not always sure that it does.

In an effort to be a little more creative and to be a little more open, I’ve decided to participate in a weekly writing prompt of sorts.

Once a week, I’ll blog using a topic from Writing On Edge. I really love some of the blog posts I’ve read using these prompts so I’m excited to participate and see what happens.

This week’s Red Writing Hood topic is JEANS.

How did such an inconspicuous part of American culture become such a Pandora’s box of memories and emotions for me?

And it really is just so American to wear jeans. No other nation has such a love affair with denim as we do…well, according to the three or so non-Americans I’ve discussed this with.

It didn’t occur to me that it was cool to wear jeans until I was in the 6th grade or so. Up until this point I don’t think I cared much about clothes and was satisfied with wearing pretty much anything that happened to be in my closet. At least, old photos give this impression.

Unfortunately, just as I was beginning to care what kind of clothes I wore, I broke my arm in such a way that I had to wear a cast that looped around my hand and went all the way to my shoulder. Because I had broken my humerus, which also holds up the entire arm and allows you to use it, I also had to wear a sling. I could not use my arm or my hand at all. Another 6th grade boy broke his arm around the same time and I remember being very jealous that he had only broken a small insignificant bone in his arm, as he batted playing softball at recess with his cast.

Since it is virtually impossible to button jeans with one hand, this month and a half long process of allowing my arm to grow back together meant a month and a half of not wearing jeans. Instead, I was completely mortified to be wearing hand-me-down cotton pants with an elastic band. This was about three years after stirrup pants stopped being cool, so even those weren’t an option.

For a 12 year old girl, who already felt chubbier than most girls in her class and was just beginning to realize that clothes are an important factor on the social spectrum of pre-teens, this was quite a defeating blow.

But I got over it. My arm healed, my cast came off, and I could wear jeans again.

However, jeans continued to influence what I thought about myself. My weight was on the uptick and before long, my jeans wouldn’t button. Money was tight in my family when I was growing up and I’m not sure if it was my knowledge of this or my embarrassment, but rather than ask for new jeans, I used a safety pin to close my jeans over my stomach.

Two years later, when I lost weight, it was my new pair of jeans that made me fully realize the weight that I had lost. My relationship with jeans had been rocky up until that point and for once I felt warm fuzzy feelings for my smaller jeans.

My feelings about jeans changed regularly through high school and college. With lesser weight and smaller sizes, I loved jeans and with 10 or so pounds higher and two sizes larger, my thoughts about jeans (and myself) plummeted.

Realizing my jeans were too large was the ultimate happy feeling.

Realizing my jeans were too small felt like a punch in the gut.

I vividly remember that it was barely fitting into my once-baggy jeans that sent me into my tailspin of crazy dieting in college.

Those jeans are still in my closet. They’re nothing special, but they carry with them 10 years of hostile feelings towards myself.

But I don’t blame the jeans. If not for those jeans, there would have been another pair that would have caused just as much pain.

In the past six years since graduating college, I’ve settled into a few jeans that I can consistently wear. They’re not my smallest size, but they’re closer to it than my largest size. I even went so far as to finally purchase a pair of nice jeans — the jeans I kept promising myself I would buy after I lost five pounds. Those five pounds have yet to go away, but I still felt deserving of them.

Taking my history with jeans into consideration, it’s no wonder that when I buttoned my jeans this morning and felt them to be a bit snug, it left me feeling a bit glum.

But unlike all those times before, the years have taught me a few things about jeans and given me some tools to deal with emotions tied to something as silly as jeans.

And even though the emotions don’t feel silly as I’m presently feeling them, writing this all down has been the best medicine.

Writing feels as good as pair of my favorite worn jeans.

Well, almost.

11 Responses to Jeans

  1. What a beautiful post. I feel the same way about my jeans. I don’t know a female that doesn’t have a pair of jeans that determines her happiness about her size. The scale means nothing if the jeans don’t fit. I have a pair of Abercrombie and fitch jeans that I’ve had since freshmen year of college(10 years) that I don’t wear out, but only when I feel like I’ve reached a certain goal. It’s crazy the power they have. They can be our best friends and worst enemies!

  2. Angie

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of yourself with us. You have perfectly, and beautifully, described my lifelong relationship with, not only jeans, but clothes in general. It has taken me many, many years to even get close to feeling contented with the state of my body on any given day.

  3. So true! I held on to a pair of jeans from college for years, even though the zipper broke. I kept hoping I would fit into them again, but no dice. Oh, well! We live and we learn!

  4. You captured exactly the feelings of too-big or too-snug jeans. I truly get it. Unfortunately.
    I’m so glad you’re linking up with us!

  5. Jennyv

    You have a brilliance to your writing… And you truly captured feelings that I have dealt with in relation to my closet and myself. Great post.

  6. Kelly,
    Your thoughts and insights about jeans are dead on. I can completely relate to the way that the way our jeans fit kind of make or break our mood. I admire your honesty about this very common feeling that a lot of women share. Since you’re a health/wellness blogger, I think it’s easy for readers to assume that you have a completely positive relationship with your body. But I so respect your thoughtful honesty in this post. I think it’s really important that you keep this kind of dialogue going so that we women can identify and help each other.
    Thank you for this!

  7. Elizabeth

    ooh-that was good-

  8. Oh man. I have some serious emotional ties to jeans. Many of my high school memories related to jeans aren’t because they were too tight or too big, but because they were too short. I heard “is there a flood coming?” more often than I’d like to admit – and it was always from some boy who I thought was cute. Sometimes I would wear men’s jeans – but those weren’t flattering either! I would seriously stress out about buying jeans.

    I agree that the years have gotten me over my jean stress. I still look back of pictures of myself fand cringe, but mainly I’m so thankful that most stores have come a long way with their inseams – realizing that women don’t come in one size!

  9. Kelly, you are such a beautiful woman, and this is a beautiful post!

  10. I love this post! I’ve always hated jean shopping. When I was younger I would torture my mom by trying on numerous pairs and walking out with none. If I found one pair it was a good day and I would hold on to that pair until they were worn thin. Shopping for jeans was something I would never do with friends because I knew it would be a long & torturous process…and that I would usually end up feeling rejected afterwards. I never had numerous pairs, instead I had a few that I could count on. And I know I’m not alone, I think the the relationship & bond women have with jeans is something we carry throughout the years, the good and the bad, (something to be said about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?) thank you for shedding light on it!

  11. I confess, I still have jeans anxiety. Having big hips/butt but a smaller waist I always have a hard time finding ones that fit. Shopping for jeans is one of my least favorite things to do (second to bathing suit shopping, which I detest). I have a pair of “goal jeans” I keep in my closet hoping someday I’ll fit into them…we shall see.

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