Pants. Grr.

Today I would like to rant about pants.

To begin: I am fat. Not plump, not curvy, straight up fucking fat. And this is perfectly fine. I have tried to be not fat in the past, but the only way to achieve that was starving myself, which sucks, and doesn’t work in the long term, anyway. In fact, FYI, everybody, diets don’t work. That link leads to one particular study that proves it, as though everyone in the universe’s experience didn’t already, but there have been numerous studies to that effect. The fact that you still see millions of people and products claiming that diets work is because 1) the foundation of capitalism is lying for money, and 2) people are taught to be so ashamed and frightened of being fat that they lose the power of reason when the subject of fat and dieting comes up.

Look, this is a big topic, one I’m not the first to remark upon – there’s the entire fatosphere out there, after all – and I’m sure I’ll bring it up here again. The point for the purposes of my pants rant is: I am fat. I am fine with this. Pointing out that I am fat is like pointing out that I am tall or that my hair is long or that I am, in the words of a dermatologist I saw last year, “unusually mole-less”: it’s just another descriptor, and no matter how badly other people in the world would like to attach a value judgment to that descriptor, they don’t get to, because my body is my property, and my value judgments are my own and not subject to the bullshit spewed out into the world by dudebro trolls on comment boards or companies selling diets that don’t work.

However, there are downsides to being fat, and one of those is one that all marginalized people have in common: the world is not made for us. In this case, specifically, pants are not made for us.

Oh, sure you can buy plus-size pants, and I do, specifically jeans. But look, for one, they are expensive: you cannot get a good pair of fat jeans for less than $40. For two, they are seldom sold in “long” sizes, which I need: I’m looking at you, L.L. Bean and Lands’ End. For three, they are comprised of this very stretchy denim, such that after one day of wearing, the shape of the pants is nothing like what it was when you first put them on. This leads me to a secondary rant: WHY ARE WOMEN’S JEANS, OF ALL SIZES, MADE OF HALF SPANDEX? I do not want leggings, I want jeans. Blue jean denim cowboy motherfucking jeans. NO STRETCHINESS AT ALL. Stretchiness does not help the pants to “fit my curves”: I barely have curves. I am a big fat tube. Also, it fucks hardcore with the sizing – the jeans have completely different measurements at the end of the day than they did at the beginning because of all the stretching out with wear. WHY CAN’T I JUST GET STRAIGHT UP DENIM JEANS?

Yes, you should have read that as though it contained a lot of yelling.

Let me get to the actual incident that drove me to this ranty blog. I ordered three pairs of jeans online: one from Old Navy, one from Levi’s, and one from Lane Bryant. All were at least $40, plus shipping. All had size charts, purporting to offer measurements for each size. I took my measurements and ordered appropriately. One pair was a size 26, two were size 24s. I don’t care about the number of the size, or vanity sizing – manufacturers can call the pants Size Dainty if that’s what it takes to make some people feel better about themselves. But I expect that if you provide a measurement guide, and I take my measurements accurately, your pants should fit.

Well. The Levi’s were a billion times too big in all ways. I clearly needed a size 22, if not a 20. The Old Navy pair was a nightmare in general: the rise was enormous, as though they expected me to be carrying a low-slung fanny pack in my underwear. The waist was too large, and the material was questionable. The Lane Bryant’s seemed to fit well enough, although the waist came up OVER MY NAVEL. The waistband of these pants was designed for Urkel.

I ended up keeping the Lane Bryant pair, basically because they fit (or so it seemed) least worst, and I was in desperate need of jeans, having been reduced to only two pairs after the crotch tore out of a third old pair. Old Navy provides free return shipping on plus-size items – this seems nice until you realize that they do this only because they discontinued plus-size items in their stores, so, natch, you can’t just be fat and go to an Old Navy and try the damn pants on and save yourself the hassle. I presume they didn’t want to taint their brand by having their stores full of fatties – fuck you, Old Navy. Levi’s I had to pay to ship back. (And, of course, I had to pay to have all of these things shipped to me, except for one pair I found a “free shipping” coupon for, so in total it cost $18 to try on three pairs of pants and decide to buy one. This is not something thin people ever have to do.)

As to the pair I kept: I knew the waist was ridiculously, unsexily high, but whatever – I don’t tuck things in, generally, and I need pants. The legs I liked: they were straight leg, as opposed to bootcut or flares, but not skinny jeans, which I’ve found to constrain the calf unpleasantly. I took the tags off, washed them to get rid of that plastic shipping smell, and put them on.

By the end of the day they were much to big. Like, falling down (off my diaphragm, ahem). BECAUSE OF THE DAMN STRETCHINESS. So now, to wear these pants I will have to belt them around my goddamn chest, try to shrink them in the wash, or maybe bribe Sarah into taking them in, if that is even possible.

This single pair of poorly fitting pants cost me almost $60, including the price of the jeans I kept, shipping and return shipping for all three pairs, and that was minus the shipping coupon and another, second coupon I found online. Without coupons I would have been close to spending $80 on one pair of very poorly fitting jeans.

Look, what bothers me is this: I am a human being, with (a little bit of) money to spend. I don’t deserve to spend twice what thin people spend, and at three times the inconvenience, on pants. And I realize that shopping can be tough for everyone, even thin people – clothing in a reasonable price range is rarely cut to fit people who are very tall or very short or very curvy or what have you. But we fats have far fewer options, and it’s just unreasonable that I can’t pay money for clothing I like that fits reasonably well. I thought that was the whole goddamn point of the American economy. And it further bothers me that I’m pretty sure it’s not that the reason I have so few options isn’t a dearth of demand – there are lots of fat folk out there. I’m pretty sure brands don’t make plus sizes because they, like Old Navy, don’t want to “taint their brand” by having it be worn by and seen on fat women. Old Navy pushes us into the ghetto of online shopping to make sure we’re never seen in their stores; other companies just push us out entirely, so that we’ll never be seen in their clothing, period. As an illustration: American Apparel sells plus-size menswear but not plus-size womenswear. Because there’s nothing, according to a particular prevalent bias and stigma, as unhip and unsexy as a fat woman.

That’s bullshit.

I have heard of a number of fats who have just given up on jeans altogether: they wear skirts, and tights when it’s cold. I wish I was femme enough for that, but it’s just not really my style. I suppose I could learn to sew (though see my “Mary Fucking Poppins” post for some thoughts on that), but I’m not sure that even if I could learn to sew, I could manage to make jeans. I’m also considering trying men’s pants, though given the different shapes of men’s and women’s bodies generally, I’m not sure how that will go. Maybe I just will have to learn to de-femme skirts, somehow.

The point is … well, actually, after 1500 words, the point is fuck this shit. Good day to you.

3 thoughts on “Pants. Grr.

  1. Just a note on pants (and clothes) in general… it’s actually pretty amazing that any jeans at all are available for cheap. It only because of cheap overseas labor and market over-saturation (in the case of close-out shops) that the majority of commonplace sizes are available for as cheap as they are (in places where they are cheap, that is).

    Making clothes, and making pants especially, is much more labor-intensive than anyone imagines. While some processes are streamlined in the mass production of clothes, there is no industrial machine that can process fabric and thread into clothing without human hands. Sewing machines are essential, but they must be operated individually by a human. Each seam sewn on commercially-available, ready-to-wear clothing was prepared and guided by a human hand through the sewing machine. If every person who made clothes got at least American minimum wage, all clothes would be A LOT more expensive than they are now. Think about it: It takes me a minimum of two to three hours to create (including cutting, sewing, ironing and finishing seams, cleanup) the simplest knit top I can make, that’s at least $15-$20 of labor (assuming min. wage), without even considering materials. If the simplest shirt ever costs me $20-$25 dollars to make, minimum… consider the several hours that goes into making jeans, dresses or anything more complex.

    The best thing any woman with a hard-to-fit body type can do is commission a home-grown seamstress/designer who specializes in fitting that body type. You might pay more, but the politically conscious among you will feel no guilt about unfair wages, and you’ll have a garment that actually fits.

  2. It’s interesting you bring up the wage element. There’s a fair amount of angst in the fatosphere about how many people WANT to shop ethically and buy from local boutiques and such, and are even willing to pay the price to do so, but ethical clothing outlets just don’t produce our sizes. Now, obvs, you can commission a seamstress to make anything, of course, but companies like American Apparel, say, or local boutiques like the ones on Butler in Lola … nope. No fatties allowed. I even run into this with local t-shirts. Wild Card has all of these great t-shirts printed with Pittsburgh and Larryville pride-themed graphics from local artists. I would wear the SHIT out of these t-shirts, multiples of them. Are they all printed on wee-ass, super thin t-shirts? Yup.

    I guess I’m just going to have to learn to wear damn skirts. And leggings. Because the world can bully me into a lot of stuff, but it can’t make me sit with my legs together. Do you know how to make leggings?

  3. Skirts and leggings are both fairly easy to make.

    You posted some things awhile back on Facebook, links to items that an online seamstress who specializes in plus sized designing, and I remember being quite impressed with the prices for fairly complex items.

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