And please don’t insult thy blue jeans, either. Fashion is what it is.
This is the time of year when you can’t open a magazine without seeing “Before Jeans” photographs.
You know the ones. They illustrate ads for diet products or features about fitness. Typically, the image is of a smiling thin person holding up an obscenely large pair of jeans.
You see, explains the copy below, this sylph was once so obese, she changed weather patterns by blotting out the sun wherever she traveled, making the earth tremble as she went. Then she went on the featured diet, tackled the featured exercise program or underwent the featured surgery, and now she poses in her itty-size ones, offering up these discarded elephant skins in triumph.
What a terrible thing to do to your jeans!
Who am I to say so? I am the national conflict between gluttony and unrealistic body-image made flesh. Too much flesh. A size 8 when I bought my wedding dress, a 12 by the time I wore it (the front seam gave way during the reception like the levees of Lake Pontchartrain), I am a Weight Watchers recidivist who could yo-yo diet for the Olympics.
I am, in short, the “Before Jeans” target audience. I have squandered unthinkable sums on green coffee bean extract, unpronounceable South American herbs, treadmills—any ally in my Holy Fatwah.
(Not that it’s really a religious struggle, more a simple choice between receding into my natural boundaries or moving into orbit. I call it “fatwah” because of the pun on “fat” and “war”; “holy” because it’s eternal, and mostly futile. After the wedding, I never saw the inside of a size 8—hell, a 14—again.)
Still, whatever “Before Jeans” ads are selling, I ain’t buyin’. If I can’t be thin I can at least be loyal, and in the perennial struggle against planethood a girl never had a truer friend than her blue jeans.
Sweatpants sit idly by as your butt invades Poland but jeans alert you the minute you exceed your mashed-potato quotient. My Levi's may get a size larger every year but as long as I have one pair that go around me I am, by God, still in the fight. “If they zip, they fit” is the Fat Girl Creed, and how many of my denim allies have died the death of the wedding dress to uphold it?
And jeans are not just the means of waging holy fatwah; they are also the prize. The short-term goal is to squeeze back into the next size down but the ultimate reward, the whole point, is to strut victorious from the battlefield wearing the Skinny Jeans that make a girl feel all hot and dangerous. In the words of the great Conway Twitty, “Partner, there’s a tiger in these tight-fittin’ jeans.”
There’s this old saying: “Be kind to thy Ass for it bears thee.” Should we not also be kind to our jeans, for they cover our ass?
I had a vague idea the Ass saying was from the Bible, but Googling it what I found was Aesop’s Fables. The Ass figures in a lot of those. He does stupid things and people beat him. I identified with him every time.
Especially the one where the Ass, jealous of the Lapdog, breaks into the house and cavorts there playfully, breaking up furniture, then tries to climb into the master’s lap. I keep seeing my butt in the same situation, wiggling coquettishly in its tight Levi's while everyone stares in horror and finally drives it away with sticks.
Of course the Ass saying refers to the beast of burden, not its anatomical homonym, but when a person humiliates her jeans, she is really insulting what’s zipped therein. That’s my real problem with “Before Jeans” pix: I’m all about a beautiful new me, but I don’t want anybody flagellating my old fat homonym.
Anyway, my jeans have been staunch comrades and I’m damned if I’ll hold their billowing yardage up for strangers to laugh at. Suppose I needed them again? They’d have every right to tell me to kiss their…
Photo by Ana Fernandez