Eat, Shop, Breathe: The Tyranny Of Skinny Fashion

6 years ago

I am taking an Elizabeth Gilbert-esque journey to the center of my seams.  She traveled around the world in search of enlightenment, inner peace, and self-love. It is no surprise she found it, head to dusty floor, in an ashram cradled in the India delta. Why? Because she wasn’t stuffed into an oppressive piece of denim like sausage links jammed into their slimy casings! She wore clothes with drawstrings and loose sleeves, clothes that floated around her body like tiny Disney-esque birds, clothes that sighed on her limbs rather than clutching her adversarially in their polyblended restraints.  It is time for the tyranny of skinny fashion to end.

You know who you are, retail insurgents! Closet radicals! You come in the form of jeans, thinned and tapered to a circumference a Muppet would find objectionable.  You are now corduroys stripped of your comfy cotton, infiltrated with helpful “stretchy” material.  You are creeping your way into my upper register: sleeves that cut off circulation, banded rayon of doom winding itself away my negligible chest.  BEGONE SKINNY FASHION! I cast ye out of my wardrobe!

My war on skinny fashion began, unbeknownst to me, in 1987.  Sixth grade, the cruelest of all years.  To paraphrase Britney, not a girl, not yet large enough to ditch her training bra.  Boys had turned from these infinitely annoying creatures to infinitely annoying creatures you would kill over for the chance to hold their sweaty, grimy hand in yours.  The obsession with weight gain and loss and the bodies of average American women had not advanced beyond Oprah Winfrey’s semi-quarterly shows on her own expanding and retractable waistband. Nevertheless, the specter of skinny fashion lurked, skulked in the shadows like a badly lit dancer in a Madonna video.  A craze for leggings had gripped the nation, and girls my age, by the cankles.  Leggings, little more than a cross between fancy sweatpants and cheap work out gear, were a staple of every woman’s closet in the late-80s. Like every young tween who desperately wanted to fit in while pretending indifference, I whined and cajoled my mother into buying me leggings, or as they were more affectionately and appropriately known to us, “stretch pants.” They were stretch pants because they stretched. Let us pause a moment and contemplate the physics of that word: stretch, to fit around, to expand, to conform to one’s shape.   Stretch pants not only clung to your body, they clung to your body in all its adolescent, barely pubescent bumps, bulges, protrusions, lopsided angles, and rounded fleshy lesions. And those are the parts I haven’t repressed from my adolescent Ms. Potato Head years.

I wore my stretch pants proudly. I wore them so much they developed tired, thready patches on critical places that suffered from extensive pull and adjustment like the knees and inner-thighs.  I thought I was all that and a banana comb-ful of cool.  Until, one day I took the time to see, to really bear witness to a tiny little slip of a girl who was also on the cheering squad and “going out” with one of the top football players. She was living the cliche and rocking her stretchy pants in the process, which were streamlined against her lean self, accentuating rather than mocking the shape of her slight, muscular curves.  It didn’t take one of those split screen film techniques for me to see the night and day difference, the uneven playing field made precariously imbalanced by a cheap swatch of material.

Thankfully, stretch pants/leggings were given their fashion walking papers in exchange for the breathable grunge trend. Flannel shirts, boy jeans, now THERE was fashion I could embrace.  But now they are back, dragging with them a mutant army of skinny fashion, jeggings, an unholy alliance between jeans and leggings, being the most deplorable.  I thumb my nose at you.

Skinny fashion, I broke up with you when I was twelve and there is nothing you can do to win me back, to seduce me into your python-like entombment in the name of “trend,” “fashion,” or “cool.”  I respect myself and love my riotous hills and valleys too much to settle for twenty-first century foot binding.  It’s not me, skinny fashion, it’s you.


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