Jeans For The Rest of Us

If you want a complex about your body, try fitting it into the average pair of jeans. I had J-Lo’s ass before she did, only mine didn’t come with a patent and a fragrance and a clothing line. And it’s impossible to stuff into a regular sized pair of jeans.

The problem is, and always will be: proportions. Petite sizes are for women who are 5′ 4″ and under. The waist and hips on petite pants are a normal size. It’s just the legs that are cut short for those of us who inherited the half dwarfism. As if having short legs with a big ass wasn’t enough of a genetic recombination sequence from Hell, I am cursed with being too tall for petite pants, but not tall enough for regular sized pants. “Regular” jeans are for “regular” sized women (whoever they are), i.e. anyone 5’4″ and above. I am 5′ 4 3/4″. Honestly. That’s really what the freakin’ scale says when I step on it at the doctor’s office. I am literally three quarters of an inch too tall to fit into petite jeans. And if you think you can’t tell the difference….well, you can. Regular sized pants usually cover my feet with three to six inches of extra fabric. I look like a blue Gumby that’s had his feet crushed. I’m thinking about marketing myself as the pint sized Swiffer Stripper. For a price, I’ll come over and dance around your hardwoods in a bra and “regular” sized jeans: I’ll get a workout, and you’ll get your floors dry mopped.

So tonight I went to the mall to shop for jeans. My friends think I shop at JC Penney because I have some sort of sense of fashion and an eye for a bargain . The truth is JC Penney is as far into the mall as I can go before I start dry heaving with the banality of it all. I like it because it has several entrances (which double as getaway doors when you just can’t take it anymore). I can park near the women’s clothing section, walk in about twenty paces, try on forty things, buy two, and walk twenty paces out. Period.

Tonight I decided to brave the other stores in the mall. First I went to the Gap, famous amongst my friends for having jeans that “fit well”. I am greeted (read: shouted “Hi-yeeeeeee” at from across the store by a smiling 17 year old with a headset on) and I make a beeline for the jeans. A sign on the door of the dressing room shows what sort of jeans fit what body type. I try mine on. The sign is wrong.

I remember that American Eagle sold me a pair of shorts years ago that still fit, and are not, even after eight summers, even the tiniest bit threadbare. I want to see if their jeans are as strong as their shorts. I am greeted by another teenager in another headset. She asks if I need help finding anything. I am tempted to tell her I am looking for painless way to slough off a few pounds from my ass with a deli meat slicer so I can buy some freakin’ jeans, but I refrain. Instead, I tell her I am looking for stovepipe style pants, straight leg, something that doesn’t taper in the knee. She says that I should try the “boyfriend” style, which is mostly straight, and some other style, which, even from ten feet away, I can see is tapered in the knee. I grab two “boyfriend” styles in my size and head for the dressing room. The tags inform me that the jeans are new and clean, but there are holes in the them. Somebody wants me to buy jeans with holes already in them. I yank off my own jeans and unclip the holey jeans from the hanger. I start the tug of war. My toe catches in one of the holes as I am pulling and I can hear the jeans rip. I pause. I decide the people at American Eagle deserve that I have ruined their pants by further ripping their regulation sized hole and tug some more. I pause again. Clearly something has happened in the eight years since I bought shorts here. Somehow, my size, the size I have been for the past ten years of my life, is no longer my size. I can’t even zipper them. I move on.

I try several more stores. More yelling by more teenaged sales associates. More bad fitting jeans. I am growing tired.

I walk in to Macy’s. Here there is promise. I remember shopping at Macy’s years ago on the East Coast and loving it. At this point, I am hot and sweaty. I have brought my big lumpy jacket into the mall with me and it is hanging over my arm. My purse doesn’t sit on my shoulder quite right, so it’s hanging from my elbow underneath my jacket. I catch my reflection in the mirror. I have a three hairs clumped together and sticking straight up on the top of my head, my mascara has started to run, my face is flushed, and I appear to be smuggling an old lady purse out of the store . I’m surprised I haven’t been flagged by security.

I grab every single size 8 on the rack in the clearance section. Every. Single. One. I swipe a pair of DKNY from the regluar priced rack, a pair of Polo’s, and a pair of Calvin Kleins. I cannot believe I am carrying designer jeans in my arms. I was raised in Lee’s, and even now, as a fairly successful self employed person with a fairly comfortable income, I still wear crappy jeans. The thought occurs: I might have to buy designer jeans tonight. I might have to close my eyes as I hand over my credit card and tell myself that this is what it takes to feel good in a pair of jeans. No more wimpy flimsy blue colored rags that frame my ass like a canvas toolbelt around two balloons. Real jeans, by real designers. I practically skip into the dressing room with my jeans. The sign says the limit per person is 4. I march right past it, throw open a dressing room door and triumphantly throw the 19 lbs. of denim on the floor. I take a deep breath and pull on the first pair. The DKNYs fit like a dream. I am blown away. Could it be? All these years of wearing shitty jeans for nothing? All this time, all I had to do was lay down a ridiculous amount of cash for jeans, and I could have foregone the Gumby legs and the shelf-butt? It seems too simple. I try on the other pairs and they all fit well, but the DKNYs fit the best. I stare at my profile in the mirror. No cheap buttons on the butt pockets. No stretchy material sucking at my thighs. Just a sleek line from my butt to the floor. I almost cry. I check out and either the woman at the counter doesn’t notice or is too polite to comment on the sweat running down my face and the flush in my cheeks as she hands me my bag. And she makes quite a gesture of handing me my bag. She walks all the way around the counter to hand it to me! I feel like royalty. Does everyone shop like this? How many countless hours have I spent being treated like a pile of dung by blank-eyed retail associates who barely make eye contact while they run my clothing over the scanning gun and ball it up in a bag?

Oh, I’m all revved up now, baby. I am armed with the information that I too can shop like the rich, be treated kindly, and get what I want for a mere $59!

But the high does not last long. My overconfidence gets the better of me. I stop in one last time at JC Penney on the way out and I spot a brand I have never seen before. They look straight enough in the leg and they have pretty embroidering on the front pocket. I take them to the dressing room. But there it is again. The pinched knee area. The flared leg that swallows my whole foot. I look like a blueberry on stilts. I take them off and kick them to the corner of the dressing room. It is late. I am tired. Several more hairs have begun to free themselves from my clips, and have joined the others at attention at the top of my head. I notice my shirt is on inside out. One of my shoes is untied. I look down at the ball of rumpled jeans. The retail associate I once was tells me to bend over, pick up those goddamned jeans and return them to the go-back rack. But now I am pissed. All those years of trying on second rate jeans, getting so overheated and dehydrated in dressing rooms changing in and out of jeans that would never fit that I actually craved an Orange Julius. An Orange Julius! Damn you, Penney’s. Damn you for your crappy jeans. Someone else can pick them up. I am a designer jeans wearing woman now and you cannot lure me back with your fancy cheap jeans. Did you hear me, Penney’s? I am a changed woman. I am going to wear designer jeans. I am going to wear designer jeans.