My favorite jeans are frayed at the hem, and threadbare at seat and seams. So I headed to the local thrift store to find a new (to me) pair.
At first glance, the thrift store promised selection. Then I looked closer and saw the flair. I’m not particularly interested in obeying denim trends. Still, I hesitate at the thrift store’s collection of wide, swinging hems. Bell-bottomed boho is a bit more of a fashion statement than I’m after.
And the thrift store has bling. Otherwise passable jeans surprised me with their rhinestone-studded back pockets. Flashes of light drawing the eye to one’s ass are lost on me.
So I stopped by J. Crew for jeans. Because that seemed easy enough. Until the salesperson welcomed me into the store’s denim collection by asking “Toothpick, right?”
Me: Are there any other choices?
Her: Well, um, there’s matchstick.
So I still need jeans. Because I just can’t bring myself to wear a style that aims for toothpick-esque.
Those of us who pay attention to such things have long criticized the fashion industry for downsizing us, and even trying to disappear us via size 0. After all, 0 signals nothing, absence, nonexistence. It’s death by fashion, then, for the slim.
Size 0 confuses the math out of me. How can zero be a size? Zero is a nothing, not a something. Zero doesn’t have size, bitches.
And J. Crew’s size 00 confuses the philosopher in me. Two zeros suggests that zero happens twice here. But as zero is already nothing, I don’t understand how it could become nothing again. To do so, it seems the original nothing would have to become something before nothing-ing again. But the ancient Greeks, usually pretty reliable in their math and philosophy, remind us that we can’t get something from nothing. Not a size, J. Crew. Not, at least, for the thoughtful.
Maybe that’s it: more than anything else, sizes like zero and zerozero evidence an utter lack of thoughtfulness. The empty place holders flaunt their nonexistence and shame sizes that actually take up space. If size 0 shames women who dare to fill a space in the world, size 00 taunts women who wear double digits.
More than the culture that sells me bells, bling, and boyfriends
Now there’s another troubling notion. In marketing us boyfriend jeans, the denim industry tries to sell us the idea that finding true love hinges on our fashion choices.
and skinny, stretch, and straights
So style and fitting in, the fashion industry reminds us, are all about being slim, malleable, and heterosexual. Again, we’re being sold a set of expectations. I can’t in good conscious buy the jeans, or buy into the body and identity aesthetic they try to hang on us all.
But back to my litany:
Even more than the culture that sells me styles and social status, and expects me to keep buying to get it right, what disturbs me is the legs that fit into the jeans. Toothpick? Is that what we’re striving for now? I can’t imagine how toothpick could be a compliment. I remember “legs like toothpicks” being something to be teased about. Remember this one?
So now we’re aiming for toothpick legs? Seriously?
Perhaps we should look to Sy Snootles for a lesson here. Her career failed because her singing (and, I suspect, her toothpick legs) were undesirable.