For me, 2014 was the year of pants. I spent the entire year thinking about my pants and how they weren’t zipping anymore. I obsessed over how I felt like Regina George from Mean Girls way too often; sweatpants and leggings really were the only things that fit me. Luckily, I started off 2014 as a senior living at college, the one place on earth where it’s actually weird if you don’t wear leggings as pants every day. And, double lucky for me, my college was filled with athletes, so sweatpants (the “eat as many cookies as you want and I’ll still fit you!” kind) weren’t out of the question, either. Needless to say, between the trickster leggings, the hectic senior year schedule that left no time for exercise, and Taco Bell, I didn’t notice how much weight I was gaining.
Until, of course, the weather got warmer and I tried to shimmy into last summer’s shorts. Unsuccessfully.
The truth is, I’ve gained weight. I have gone up pants sizes and I’ve sat on my lazy bum too much. I tried to fit into those too-tight shorts all summer. I cried when I couldn’t. I agree with Eva Mendes about jeans: they’re uncomfortable and I hate them, which is a good thing because those didn’t fit me either. I care too much about pants and how I fit or don’t fit into them. And while all of that is okay – normal, even – it has to stop.
Because really, WHO CARES?
Having been in “the real world” for almost a year now, I can confirm a serious and heartbreaking tragedy: leggings just don’t cut it at work. Women’s work pants (clearly invented by men) have buttons and zippers and seams that don’t always stretch. In other words, size actually does matter. Rarely can you purchase a ‘medium’ size pants and pretend you’re closer to the small than the large. Instead, you have to confront the numbers. And when I confronted mine, and how they’d changed since pre-senior-year decay, I felt a little like quitting my job and taking up a career that required elastic waistbands. When I wasn’t suffering in my work pants, I spent the summer in athletic gear, (the stretchy kind, obviously), planning to drop 20 pounds by fall so I could return to the comfort of the old, tiny pants that were collecting dust in my drawer.
But fall came around, and there I was, pretty much inhabiting the same pants that I hated. Maybe with a little more wiggle room around the waist, but definitely not dropping multiple sizes like I’d planned. And now it’s April. Fall turned to winter and winter is (slowly) turning to spring and, despite my best efforts (except for the occasional run to Taco Bell, of course), those tiny pants of the past are still collecting dust.
Like most girls, my weight has been something that has bothered me for weeks and months and years on end. Most of the time, I’m listing all the areas on my body that can be improved upon in my head, but every now and then I’ll have a moment of absolute clarity and free myself from the self-deprecating thoughts.
One of those bouts of clarity came to me about a year ago, and I try to remind myself of it often. I was driving with my best friend and we were talking about our weight, analyzing why we had gained it and dreaming up ways to lose it, when I realized something important: if you look back on your favorite memories, the truly great ones, the kind where you got a headache from smiling too hard, do you remember what you weighed? What you were wearing, even?
Chances are, (with the exception of prom and your wedding day), your weight and your outfit and whether or not the button on your jeans left a red indent in the doughy part of your stomach didn’t matter. Chances are your boyfriend has never told you he’d love you more “if only you could get rid of that muffin top.” (And if he did, it’s time to find a new boyfriend.) So why do we think the way our pants fit us says anything about who we are?
Since graduation, I’ve taken up running. I started out fully aware of just how out of shape I was, aiming only to run a mile without stopping. Now, after a grueling but rewarding 13.1 miles, I’m a half marathoner, just ten months later. For the first time in my life, exercise isn’t about taking the weight off. It’s about getting stronger, faster, and finishing those miles I set out to complete, whether it’s as a size eight or a size four.
Sometimes I still wince when I go pants shopping, but I try to remind myself not to care about the number on the tag as long as they make my body – the slightly overweight one, the same one that can run 13.1 long miles – look good while feeling comfortable, too. As 2015 goes on, I vow to not let an obsession with pants sizes take over. I promise to think less about pants and more about laughter. Think less about those couple of extra pounds and think more about shit that actually matters.