The pants we love to hate

I hate jeans. The fashion icon appears everywhere and can be found in so many closets in the U.S., yet I find them to be a terrible pant for many tendencies that we have in our society. My pants closet used to only consist of jeans, and I wore them every single day, but when I would come back at the end of the day I couldn’t wait to get them off. Oftentimes, I would have marks on my stomach dug there by the jeans’ waistband. The one major problem I have with jeans is that they do not stretch. Background info on me: I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and the medication I take for it means that I am bloated all day every day. This has made jeans a nightmare for me to wear, as they will fit for approximately one hour of the day and the moment I eat a bite of anything, they are uncomfortably tight. This is not a problem unique to me.

Every single person on this earth bloats after a meal. Our stomach is digesting and creating gas, so it just happens. However, this also means that to a certain extent, everyone who wears jeans is struggling with the problem that I have. At one point or another, well-fitting jeans will kind of hurt! Sure, you could unbutton them, but I feel like if you have to modify your clothing on a daily basis to feel comfortable, there is something wrong with your clothing.  There is yet another glaring problem with jeans—even a difference of ten pounds to your frame can make a good pair of jeans unusable. Not everyone has the money to keep buying new well-fitting jeans and not everyone has the storage space to keep a wardrobe of jeans fully stocked with a pair for every possible size you might be. It also becomes a sick sort of game that we start playing with ourselves: which of my jeans am I going to fit into? We keep smaller jeans around just in case that new diet works and we finally shed those pounds.

However, these aspirational pairs of pants just serve as a way to shame and guilt ourselves. I viscerally remember the feeling of jeans that fit me only a year ago suddenly becoming far too tight to even pull all the way up. It presents what we consider to be a failure. “Getting fat” is rendered so perfectly in that one moment of horrifying realization, so not only are we hurting ourselves with tight waistbands, we’re also having to buy more jeans and torture ourselves over it. All of this is totally unnecessary. Jeans aren’t always the best option.

Despite the fact that we seem to abhor them, pants with elastic waistbands actually make a lot of sense. Not only are they more comfortable, but you can also adjust them so much more to your body size than you can with jeans. Sure, you can make oversized jeans smaller with belts, but there is no negotiating at all with undersized jeans. Once jeans get too small, there is just no salvaging that pair of pants. This is made especially maddening if you don’t have the money to afford expensive pairs of jeans regularly. This can all be helped with pants that are roomier and stretchier. If you gain or lose weight, a built-in adjustable waistband can do wonders for ensuring that it is much harder to outgrow your pants. There is also no need to fuss with small zippers and buttons, which for some people can be very difficult.

Sure, jeans are durable and strong, but most of us in the US aren’t working jobs that require such durability. Cotton, for example, is also durable, but it has the added bonus of having much better breathability. A cotton polyester blend can help with heat retention as well. Both of these fabrics are much more forgiving and softer than jeans. On top of that, other fabrics can also be long-lasting and much more comfortable. We tell people—especially those who are assigned female at birth—that fashion is first and foremost the most important thing about ourselves and our first impressions. Not looking good is something we can tolerate less than wearing comfortable clothing. This is a ridiculous concept, considering how many of us are working desk or customer service jobs and would probably prefer to be comfortable above anything else. At the end of the day, we really should be investing time and effort into devising clothes that are long-lasting, cool-looking and, above all, don’t make us hate ourselves. We should also consider why the pants that people deem most fashionable and put-together are built in a way that make us all feel bad in one way or another.