Death to Denim
so your body can live your best life. Welcome to the Era of Elastic.
My grandmother grew up in a small town in Sonora, Mexico, living with 10 siblings. She was the eldest daughter, so she was in charge of ironing her brothers’ jeans. (Exhibit 478 to answer the call: Unionize Eldest Daughters. I’m getting it tattooed under my left buttcheek. If all you who know the eldest-daughter-experience want to get a matching one, truly, let me know.) The iron was made of iron, heated over coals, to flatten the rough, coarse material of small-town Mexican denim. She hated ironing all those tough jeans. As soon as her own Mexican-American daughters were old enough to iron, and the iron itself was modern enough to not be made of iron, she taught them and left them to iron their father’s clothes.
Now, almost 70 years from when my grandmother first started ironing her brothers’ jeans, we say the same curse: Death to Denim.
To be fair, denim now is nowhere (or no-wear ;) ) near the coarse material it was then, and I don't have to iron my jeans, but it still constrains. However, it’s no longer that sturdy. I am blessed to have thighs that rub together, so all of my jeans have holes near the crotch from the friction. Holes in these crotches are... not sexy. You feel the little balls of denim, bunching up across the threads that are hanging on out of spite, digging into your now bared inner thigh. You end up recycling the one material that was never supposed to rip, because instead it eroded. As it turns out, my thighs are quite powerful.
My thighs are thunderous, and have been for a while, but I’m not the size I was in high school or college anymore - thankfully, I’ve grown! My stomach has love handles that I’m growing to like. Denim doesn't want your body to change. It makes you forget that our bodies were meant to change. Denim is denial. Denial of our bodies’ natural fluctuations, even in the course of a day. Our bodies are moons, waxing throughout the day. Denim is a photograph that keeps you convinced that the moon is always new.
With much gratitude, I work from home. I sit too much, since my desk cannot be easily converted into a standing desk. With even more gratitude, I only show my face and torso on camera. At the beginning of quarantine, I would wear jeans, because I understood that jeans were what one wore to be ready for the day. Sweatpants were sloth. Except that under the camera, my jeans would be even more inappropriate than the sweatpants because I’d have them unbuttoned, my love handle protruding, happy to see the light of day and get some rest from sucking it in.
I could get new jeans, but I can’t order them, in good conscience, without trying them on. It’s not my butt and thighs that are the issues, it’s these dumb American womens’ sizes that ask for your first born’s rising astrological sign to determine your jean size. Instead, I got hand-me-downs from my little brother, who is 9 inches taller than me, but we have the same butt size (“Thiccc,” he says). I tried patching the crotch holes, but still to no avail, the rubbing of the little denim balls desecrating the illusion that jeans are comfortable for me.
I surrendered my idea that jeans were what I needed to be ready for the day. I personally do need to change out of my pajamas, but I compromised and decided that I could still be comfortable throughout the day. I started to wear shorts and pants with elastic waistbands, and they respected my body's natural fluctuations.
There are many things that should have died in 2020. Xenophobia, racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, fatphobia, ableism, capitalism, to name a few, but the one thing that will quickly bring comfort to most bodies will be the death of denim. Let your body live its truth. It’s time for the Era of Elastic - you’ve always known sweatpants are better anyway.