But Femininity Is Just As Binding
I stopped wearing pants in the name of physical comfort, with the emotionally uncomfortable result that I now present as a woman who wears dresses all the time.
By: Jess Zimmerman June 6, 2022
My Note: This is a female's perspective on how she present herself. Have you ever felt uncomfortable, as a male, wearing the male uniform? Interesting how our appearance / clothes can make such a difference.
This is I Give Up, a new series from Catapult magazine on the things—habits, expectations, jobs, ambitions, futures, and more—that people have let go of in the past few years.
|Brad Pitt's Skirt - July 2022
Attended the Berlin premiere of Bullet Train
I am not built right for pants.
It’s something about fat, but also fat distribution: not just how much of it I have, but where it is and in what proportions. Jeans that most people would consider mid-rise or high-rise hit me right in the middle of a bulge, which is both uncomfortable and unworkable. They pinch, they roll down, they won’t sit right. Low-rise jeans don’t bind as badly, but they slide down all day; in my jeans-wearing days I would frequently wear out the belt loops solely from yanking on them to get my pants back up over my hips.
Up until middle school, I didn’t even own a pair of jeans. I wore leggings, which I could get away with, because it was the 1980s. But eventually preteen image consciousness caught up with me, not to the point of caring about cuts or brands—as a fat kid I had to wear what fit me, anyway—but enough to realize that wearing jeans was acceptably cool and not wearing them was not. So I entered the fray: the struggle of self-presentation, and the attendant struggle of managing the conflicts between my physical body and available clothes. I had several pants companions during this thirty-year battle: straight-leg jeans, boot-cut jeans I was always stepping on the bottoms of, men’s wide-wale corduroys, skinny jeans, black fatigues tucked into combat boots. But I had no pants allies.
And so, eventually, I simply gave up. I stopped wearing pants altogether, even the outrageously stretchy basically-leggings jeans I’d most recently been living in. I adopted an outfit formula: print skater dress, leggings, black cardigan, motorcycle boots. It looked pulled-together and a little tough and felt like pajamas, the ideal late-thirties uniform. I experimented with various brands of leggings to find ones that didn’t roll down, with medium success, but at least the ones that didn’t work weren’t as uncomfortable as jeans.
But this left me with only dresses, which presented its own set of problems.
This set the narrative for my life, at least as far as clothing went: I tried, with varying levels of enthusiasm and success, to present myself within a feminine idiom in a way that also felt authentic, and I also returned to boots and pants and industrial-music T-shirts as a baseline. These were my emotional comfort clothes; anytime I felt unsafe or overwhelmed, I would give up the effort of girly clothes for days or weeks and break out that Thrill Kill Kult shirt (yes, I still have it; no, Scott can’t have it back), or something similar, and whatever fatigues or jeans or jeggings I was tolerating at the time. Neither of these modes was exactly unwelcome or explored under duress, you understand. But one was more natural.