Denim Dilemma: A Shopping Experience

After my failure to find jeans when I went shopping for summer clothes, I psyched myself up to spend a day doing nothing but denim shopping. I knew it would be frustrating, and could possibly end in failure. This is why I psyched myself up for it. To read the results of that trip, check out Finding Jeans that Fit.

I had my head in a good place. Wore comfortable, easy on/off clothes. Braced myself with an extra coffee. I could do this. I could walk into store after store after store and try on every single pair of jeans I could find that might possibly fit.

I chose a weekend in part because I knew the stores would be crowded and the salespeople would be busy enough to not care about the quiet woman pulling all the denim off the rack. I wanted to get in and out without too much fuss or attention.

A technique that worked, for the most part.

After Kohls and Old Navy, I hit the mall and nearly every single store in the place. I was getting a mid-afternoon pick-me-up in the food court (in the form of liquid caffeine, of course) when I spotted a group of women nearby. Obviously friends and looking to be mid to late twenties, they ranged from trim to very large. But one of the women was about my size and shape and wearing what looked to be nicely fitted jeans.

I screwed up my courage and approached the group, apologized for interrupting, and told the girl she looked amazing, then asked about the denim.

She laughed and pulled her shirt up, then tugged on the stretchy waistband. “Oh honey. These are jeggings.”

She pointed me at another shop in the mall… a junior size shop that has larger sizes.

I thanked the women and off I went. The shop wasn’t too crowded, and I tried on the one pair that looked right – no good. Too tight in the butt and too loose in the waist.

It was then my luck ran out.

A salesperson approached and asked if she could help. Her response to my dilemma? The last time she found jeans that fit was four years ago – they no longer make that cut. Now, she gets her jeans tailored. Or wears jeggings. Nothing else worked for her figure.

About that time, another customer started loudly berating me for attempting to appropriate black girl fashion.

The employee rolled her eyes and blew the woman off, saying, “she needs the fit”, then tried to apologize to me. I instead apologized to her for creating an uncomfortable situation and got the heck out of there.

At the end of the day, that was the one negative moment I had. Sure, I was faced time and again with the dressing room mirror – the body that doesn’t fit in anything off the rack. The denim that doesn’t flatter my shape.

All day long, I looked at thighs that bulged and a butt that pushed the limits of stretch materials. I faced a pale complexion, cellulite, and a body and skin that are clearly no longer those of a young woman.

All of that I could handle. I was ready for it. I had prepared myself for the harsh florescent lights and a never-ending stream of clothes that silently scream “you’re not…” (fit enough, young enough, shapely enough, thin enough, etc, etc, etc, etc).

It all meant nothing to me.

But that one customer. That one woman.

I wanted so much to turn to her and say, “I’m not trying to appropriate anything, I’m just trying to find a pair of jeans that fit my ass.”

But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

It did leave me wondering though. It did make me think.

What exactly am I supposed to do? Should I be relegated to a certain fashion (that neither fits nor flatters my body) because I’m white? How are denim pants appropriation?

I could understand the complaint if I had trekked into the streets and then set about emulating the women’s style or marketing it to the masses. But I just wanted to buy a pair of jeans that fit.

This is my ass we’re talking about here. Believe me, I’ve tried to make it smaller. No luck. It’s not something I chose. It’s just the way I’m built. And sometimes it’s a pain in the ass.