Suburban Snapshots

Bad Jeans

Monday, July 05, 2010

Now that it's officially summer, I'm seeing a lot more teenagers wearing a lot less clothing. Specifically, I see oddly-shaped teenage girls wearing really, really tight pants sporting copious muffin-tops. I blame the fashion industry for most of the problem — I was almost moved to write a letter to the Gap last week when I happened upon what they described as "The Legging Jean," commonly referred to as "panty hose." I also spotted this womens romper, which I bought last summer. For Anna. In size 18 months.

Driving to the coffee place last week for my 400th iced decaf, milk-only of the day, I passed a girl who was probably 14 or so. She was apple-shaped and cute, and she was crammed — buttered — into skinny jeans. Her striped top bulged awkwardly, her high-top Converse barely squeezed under the tight cuffs of her pants. I thought to myself, "Doesn't anyone TELL these kids what they look like?" and then "Bren, did you just think 'these kids?' Shit, you're old." I thought about how totally uncomfortable I feel if my jeans tug weirdly in bad places, forcing half of my underpants up my rear, my butt tugging them so low that my hips exert enough force to fold the waistband over on itself. I call them my "Punishment Pants."

But then, then I had a flash of my awkward teenage self. I was oddly built in the 80s — the original 80s, before retailers filtered out the most heinous fashion grievances. I had neon, I had Bubble Gum Jeans (see above: panty hose), I had ten-dollar pleather pumps and coordinating socks. Sometimes I'd wear too-small running shorts, the kind with white piping that would always ram themselves up between my chubby thighs, forcing their waistbands to sit just below my ribcage. I had thick legs and a round belly and not a stitch that fit properly. My skirts were always too short, my hair a huge, 4-alarm fire waiting to happen.

Why didn't anyone tell ME what I looked like?

I hope my fashion sense has improved since then, if it's any indication, neither of my sisters has called me fat since high school, so something must have improved. I have to wonder what era will be back in circulation when Anna's in her teens, what grievous fashion mistakes she'll make, and whether I'll guide her or let her spend 30 years trying to sort it out for herself.

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