Monday, October 03, 2005

so about my pants...

In celebration of my raise, I took myself to Goodwill on Saturday and bought myself two pairs of slacks for work. Now that I’m making the big bucks, I need to look the part, you see. That last sentence took me 20 minutes to finish writing, because this debilitating cough arose in my throat each time I attempted to write “big buh….” [INSERT DEBILITATING COUGH]. Well, you know what I mean.

Two pairs of slacks, both fit just fine. Two pairs of slacks, both say a different number on the tag.

The fun part about shopping at the Goodwill for clothes (aside from witnessing the born-again lady standing by the shoe racks exorcising some other innocent shopper from the “demon alcohol” as innocent shopper nervously attempts to make a break for it) is to see all these various brands of clothes, hanging side by side, and realize just HOW arbitrary the number on the tag really is. It’s a really big conspiracy, people. We just need to embrace it.

I pulled out a pair of pants that looked about my size, and when I looked at the tag and read a rather large double-digit number, I thought….either these pants have been regularly subjected to an excessively hot dryer, or that’s just someone in a tag factory with a sick sense of humor and not enough love at home.

Other pants I’ve pulled out, tried on, they fit great, and then read the tag and it says a number so small that I think…in the real world this would never happen to me. I have to buy these pants just in case someone decides to go through my closet one day and read all the tags on my clothes, and they’ll think I’m ACTUALLY this size. I’m sorry to confess it, but I have actually thought this.

I’m reminded of some of the things we just heard from Jeffrey R. Holland this weekend, in our world-wide church conference. His comments were directed particularly to young women, and warned against yielding to the size-obsessed siege that rages on in our culture, and how damaging it truly is. Evil, in fact. It distracts women away from what the definition of beauty actually is. Even I found myself getting caught up in finding clothes that were erroneously marked with smaller numbers, even when I know that the number has nothing to do with anything.

It’s so hard to keep the healthy perspective on this. Isn’t it? I envy men. You got your waistline number, and your leg-length number. Badda bing. No moral judgments, no deceptive gimmicks. Just the indisputable correct measurements right there on the tag. It is what it is, my man.

Would women really not buy pants that told them their actual measurements, and that’s why all the stupid made-up numbers? At the end of the day, don’t we just want our pants to fit right? Do we want to keep up the falsities? (yes.) Are we just going to buy in to the charade?!?! (as long as you keep telling me I’m a size 4, you bet.) Can somebody tell me WHAT KIND OF A WORLD WE LIVE IN WHEN A WOMAN BUYS SOME PANTS AND FASHION-AMERICA CLOTHES HER WITH LIES?!?! YOU MOCK OUR PROTRUDING HIPS WITH LIES!! YOU CAPITALIZE ON OUR DESPARATE NEED FOR SINGLE DIGITS MECHANICALLY-EMBROIDERED ON A TAG! CURSE YOU! CUUURRRSE YOOOOUUUUUU!!!

Wow. Okay, so I’m on drugs right now for my sinuses. Sorry about that.
It's a very good point, though. I've noticed that in some stores, I'm a certain size and in other stores, I'm a certain other size. Really, I prefer the stores that tell me I'm smaller.

I once read this article that a woman wrote about staying a size 10 for a couple decades. She was proud of herself because she obviously wasn't gaining weight. She was still a size 10. Then she went and found her old clothes, and even though they were all size 10, there was no WAY she could fit into them.
I was just discussing the evil that is women's sizing with a friend the other day. My major problem is that my waist is significantly smaller than my hips, but most clothes manufacturers seem to think women are built straight up and down. So if it fits my hips, it's way too big on my waist - like by 7 inches or more.

I want to advocate for measurement sizes. Give us a variety of hip and waist measurements and we'll choose the one closest to our own. That would make me happier. Guys have it so easy in that area.

Also, could we please standardize shirt/sweater/blouse sizes? The other day I wound up buying two Small sweaters, putting back the Medium crew-neck T that was too small, and the Medium sweaters that were way too big, while wearing an XL stretch knit top. Please explain that one to me.

But anyway, yes, I agree, we're all too wrapped up in this anyway. I've finally reached a point where I'm ok with my body, I just want to tone up and lose a little more, but in the meantime I'm okay. But I think back to all the years I have spent obsessing about how fat I am. It's so pointless and often doesn't really matter too much since generally people are drawn to a woman who is self-confident versus the basketcase skinny girl (although she seems to get a fair amount of dates too. Hmmm.)
One of my favorites was when I was a bit smaller and had some size 8 pants from Old Navy that fit PERFECT. These were the BEST PANTS EVER, and this coming from the girl who has an impossible time finding pants. So the a few months later, I went back and bought the same size pants b/c of how wonderful they were, and they didn't fit. So the old size 8s, which had been through the dryer and probably shrunk some, still fit me. But the new size 8s where too small. What is up with that? Same exact pants, just months apart. Very irritating. I've just given up and started buying mens jeans...they may not fit perfect, but they're cheaper, and at least I know what size I'm getting.
Right there with you, girlses. I went shopping last Wednesday (something I absolutely despise doing), and ended up getting pants in three different sizes. THREE. The variation isn't even as global as store-by-store, either. At both the Gap and Banana Republic, I wear at least two different sizes. And that's just in pants. In shirts, I can wear everything from an XS to an L. Tres frustrating.
This is why my jeans are fraying at the ankles. I haven't bought new jeans since I lived in Chicago--which was before I moved to Boston, which was almost three years ago now. Why? Because only Eddie Bauer jeans, of all the jeans in the world, fit right on my body. And there are no Eddie Bauers around here (I think) (and, well, I didn't have $50 for a pair of jeans while in grad school, and still don't).

I can't tell you how many hours I have spent trying on clothes only to go home with something that didn't fit right because it was the best thing there, or to go home empty-handed. I can't stand shopping for clothes for this reason. Makes it hard to look good, though, when all your clothes--including the nice ones for work--are holey and fraying. I gotta do something about that, but I dread going clothes shopping.
Mary my dear. Can I just tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Whenever I need a little dose of Mary I just oen up a browser and there you are. Bing! Kind of liked bewitched when she twinkles her nose, but you don't actually appear just part of you does, well I mean...anyway. I love you my dear and I hope that you are feeling better. We shall talk soon, btw things are improving. Oh happy day!
I'm so relieved to hear this feedback, since sometimes I think it's just me! Thank you all for the great comments!

Listening to all your experiences makes me even more frustrated by all this. And I'm intrigued by Cicada's mention of the size 10 article she read! So apparently size 10 thirty years ago is something larger these days?!?! Jeez.

Bottom line, what I think this means is what stacer alluded to; it's going to take more time and energy finding clothes that fit because there is no accurate measured scale by which to work from. I loathe spending more than two hours shopping. This makes me cranky.
Doll, it's never just you. Especially when it comes to the frustration women feel when purchasing clothing. I've learned the VERY HARD WAY that if I find pants that fit and are flattering, I should BUY THEM IMMEDIATELY and buy more than one pair. Becuase I will never find them again.

PS--I loved Elder Holland's talk. It made me feel so validated in my frustrations and made me realize that I just need to get over it and get comfortable with the way I am.
Mary, I must tell you that I have not bought anything new in several years, aside from bras and underwear. Even my shoes come from the fab Salvation Army in my suburban town. The money I save!

And the best part is that I get to have SO MANY clothes for SO DAMN CHEAP! So if I do the "dragging the boob through the gravy" kind of thing that I tend to do on a regular basis, it's no biggie. When you've only spent four bucks on a Gap sweater, it doesn't hurt quite as much to lose it.

And I also agree with you on the size thing - it's quite liberating to be "size free", isn't it? Almost metaphysical, in a pathetic kind of way.

By the way, I really enjoy your blog - I have a "Link Du Jour" to it from my own. Have a great three-day weekend - and remember that most Salvation Army and Good Will shops have big sales on holiday weekends!

Ordinary Girl
It's true about the whole size-obsessed thing. I used to think I'd just be happy if I were thin, which meant a flat stomach. I am 5'3" and 118 pounds and my gut still sticks out a little. I don't obsess about it and I feel fortunate to have a little more security. I look at this as my revenge against our perfect-body-obsessed culture.

Congrats on the raise. I love Goodwill!
ordinary girl, thanks for reading and for the link! I'll be checking you out soon!

ruby, it really is more about our perception than the reality, yes? Our perception becomes our reality.

My friend loves to tell people of a study she read in a fashion magazine about two billboards: one woman in both. I think they even used the same picture for both. Anyway, one billboard asked: is this woman sexy? The other: is this woman overweight? Or something like that. It then listed a website where you could vote or call in or something. Both billboards had like 90% "Yes" answers. BOTH. It's all in your perception.

So interesting. Anyhoo, thanks for comments! Hope I hear from all of you again.
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