Americans are getting fatter and fatter, yet the pants we wear are getting smaller and smaller. I just don’t understand it. Personally, trying on pants has made me so afraid it reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s beloved What Was I Scared Of? The rhyming children’s book on fear and tolerance tells the story of an encounter with “pale green pants with nobody inside them.” In the story, the main character visits numerous places and keeps running into and then away from these pants that move though minus a body. I’m thinking a lot of pants — pale, green or any color — in these United States shouldn’t have anyone inside them. They might be less frightful. Pants these days are smaller, tighter, and should be socially unacceptable. As I try on pants, the same brands and sizes I have worn in the past, I am as scared as the character in the story — because they don’t fit — but I don’t see myself embracing these tight pants anytime soon…
Confession: Some of the pairs of pants I wear today I have been wearing for ten years. On a wintry weekend those many years ago, I had been suffering a severe cold, feeling miserable. My husband, for the first time in my life with him, suggested “retail therapy,” otherwise known as mall shopping. I went without children, shopped just for myself, made purchases, and came home feeling almost completely healed. Retail therapy worked for me. My husband has never forgiven himself.
But on that shopping trip, I met The Limited. I went into the store for the first time, looked at the clearance rack (as per my modus operandi in any store), found a couple pairs of pants and headed for the dressing room. What I found there was customer service. The attendant exchanged clothes for different sizes, brought back additional items she suggested I try, and even brought in a pair of jeans she thought would be perfect. It was heavenly. Though I bought only a pair or two of pants at a good price, The Limited had a friend for life.
I returned on my infrequent outings to the mall, always heading to the clearance rack and always receiving good service. It was there I purchased my pants, always “dry clean only” varieties that held their shape and which I could launder using at-home dry-cleaning supplies. It is those pants that fit me well and remain staples in my closet. The Limited, unfortunately, closed after a couple of years of my clearance-rack-only purchases, and I wore all black for days in mourning.
But these are the days of online shopping, right? So when I wanted more pants, I went right to the site — found my size and style (and sale, of course) — and made a purchase. The pants arrived — The Limited name, my size, my style — but they did not fit the same. I kept them, being too lazy to make the return, and figured I could lose a little weight and enjoy them more. They remain in my closet, pristine; they are simply not the same.
Likewise, workout pants seem to be getting smaller. I am tall; length has always been more of a problem than width in my purchases. In my dresser, you would find Nike, Adidas, Champion, and other brands all in the same size. They fit fine but I give them plenty of wear and wanted replacements. But going to the store to purchase new workout pants is a humbling experience. Nothing fits — or at least nothing fits modestly enough to wear in public. I tried on a number of my usual brands and styles in my size and found nothing acceptable. When I checked out — just buying a new shirt — I told the checkout clerk that I would have to diet before I bought workout pants. Really?
If you haven’t read Dr. Seuss’s What Was I Scared Of?, you should — aloud — just for fun. If you haven’t gone shopping for pants lately, you shouldn’t, because then you will be scared. The version of What Was I Scared Of? I had was tucked into a large book that compiled several of Seuss’s more famous works, and it was a gem my youngest son and I enjoyed over and over again. Apparently, you can purchase a version of it that glows in the dark; I can only hope that the skintight pants on the market do not come in styles that glow in the dark…
Just for fun, I took a few of Seuss’s lines and made them my own:
I was walking in the store
And I saw nothing scary.
For I have never been afraid
Of anything. Not very.
Then I was deep within the racks
When, suddenly, I spied them.
I saw a pair of workout pants
That seemed to be my size then.
I wasn’t scared. But, yet, I stopped
To try those pants to be sure.
I wanted them to fit me well,
That brand that fit me before.
And then I tried those workout pants
They made my bod look so big
My former pride, I must admit,
Began to see me a pig.
I tried on more, the same result.
The brands and sizes I wore
Before no longer seemed to fit.
And so I left the sports store.