Is this because I’m 30 or because of the pandemic? is a question I found myself asking a lot in 2022. Did my sciatica decide to flare up one cold November day because I worked one hour too many sitting in a non-ergonomic chair, or because it realized “oh, we’ve been doing this for three full decades now”? (Jury’s out.) Did my nose start breaking out because of some secret third hormonal shift no one warned me about, or because I’d gotten in the habit of wearing the same mask for too many days in a row? (It was the mask.) Did my body change in certain ways because my daily routine was pretty drastically altered nearly three years ago, or because that’s just what bodies do as we age? (Would love to know the answer to this one.)
And while I love to pontificate on the cause, the effect is the same: How I carry my weight now is different than it was three years ago. As such, many of the jeans I wore then do not fit me now. There were moments where that wasn’t true, and I held on to these pants for those few days every couple of months where some combination of factors allowed me to button them without deep physical or emotional discomfort. But those times were few and far between; what usually happened is that I’d absentmindedly put them on every other week, remember they didn’t fit right, and be in a foul mood going into whatever it was that required me to put on hard pants. I’d feel bad about myself for no longer fitting into them; then I’d feel bad about feeling bad and stress about the expense of buying multiple new pairs of jeans. Then I’d be angry at society for making me think I should be smaller, but also at capitalism for encouraging me to just shop my way out of a problem, and and and...
This cycle took up much of my 2022. And then one day, when I was going to a consignment shop, I randomly pulled out a pair of pants I hadn’t worn in years. Beacon’s Closet bought them (a huge ego boost, for anyone unfamiliar with the specific shame of bringing what you think are your coolest clothes to a reseller, only to have them reject every single item), which flipped a switch inside of me: I didn’t have to have these pants. Someone else could have them!
I pulled out the remaining pairs of offending jeans—including a skin-tight black pair which were offensive in multiple ways—and posted them on my local Buy Nothing Facebook group. “Must take all three pairs,” I wrote, needing a clean break. Within 24 hours, a neighbor had come to take them off my hands. I was free of these fucking too-small pants. It was amazing.
I had four remaining pairs of pants (I don’t know if that’s a lot or a little for most people, but it was half the size of my previous collection), but they all fit. Opening my bottom dresser drawer wasn’t a psychological minefield every morning. I no longer exercised with the not-so-subconscious thought that maybe this would be the week I got back into those old jeans.
I planned accordingly and restocked during Black Friday sales—but only after going through the arduous, soul-sucking process of trying on jeans in stores (I’m sorry to tell you that accepting you’ve gone up a size does not make the actual shopping experience any better). I bought a cool pair of oversize trousers as a treat when I was in London. I’m considering further proper-fitting options now, thanks to the plethora of post-Christmas sales. (I am well aware of the privilege I am afforded to be able to do this. The vast majority of brands make clothes for people like me—a cis, straight-sized woman—however much I may complain about the shopping process.)
So if you can, my new year’s advice for you is to get rid of your pants (or shirts, or bras, or whatever category of clothing gives you the most grief) that don’t fit you anymore, whatever that means to you. It’s already had an outsized impact on my life.