My War on Pants

     For several years, I was known as the girl who wore skirts. They were almost always high-waisted, of varying lengths and patterns and hues. Long skirts, mini skirts, poodle skirts, flowy skirts, you name it. I wore skirts so much that I only owned one pair of ill-fitting jeans that if I ever wore in public, almost every interaction with people I knew began with an “Oh my GOD, you’re wearing pants!” 

     Yes, I love feeling feminine (or what is traditionally codified as such), and there is a certain elegance that I do tap into when wearing a skirt or a dress. For a long time, it felt to me that I was put together — I built pretty, colour-coordinated outfits around my recognizable brand as Skirt Girl. Skirt Girl was fancy. Skirt Girl had her shit together. And Skirt Girl had great lipstick to match. 

     Here’s the secret: I didn’t exclusively wear skirts because I loved skirts. I did, and I do, but my reason for acquiring this habit wasn’t because circular clothing is more comfortable (even though let’s be real, it obviously is). Nor was it because a skirt is graceful or put together or a harkening back to simpler times when women were blind to their oppression. 

     No, no. I was phenomenally self-conscious of my fleshy thighs and curvy hips. I could easily avoid having to look at them altogether if I swathed them in tights and a skirt. Boom. Problem solved. This way, people could concentrate on my accentuated waist, rather than the upper thighs that I felt were far too large for the rest of my body. Hey, look over here! I’m small, I promise! A disguise that to the untrained eye reads “confident in her femininity” rather than “constantly fat-shaming herself.” I shoved that negative self-talk down, basked in the compliments I received about my unique, un-teenager-like wardrobe, and assumed that this would fix the problem. 

     Ha, ha.

     Slapping a big ol’ band-aid — or skirt, as it were — on the issue obviously did nothing but hinder the healing process. The more I tried to hide my ever-growing shame about my body, the more I became obsessed with changing it.

     Enter obsessive calorie-counting/fasting/binging/destructive patterns of thinking. In my mind, I thought that I would wear jeans again when I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in them. I’d wear them again when I worked hard enough that my body deserved to be seen. 

     I say all this acknowledging the fact that I am, by many standards, a relatively slim human. I’m usually a size 4 dress/top, and then because of those thighs (/hips/ass), my bottom half is a six. Maybe an 8, if the brand runs small. And yes, I know that those numbers don’t matter, and even if they did, mine are relatively small. Or at least, smaller than the statistically average Canadian woman. I am relatively fit, I’m pretty strong, and I am proud of the things my body is capable of doing. 

     I still spend far more time than I care to admit thinking about and abhorring those six inches at the top of my legs. However, I have finally taken to wearing pants again — and that’s a huge victory! Don’t get me wrong, Skirt Girl isn’t dead; she just emerges significantly less frequently. I have many more options to color-coordinate and highlight with a strong lip, now that pants are back in the equation. But there are still many days that I put on even a favourite pair of jeans and immediately take them off, knowing that I’ll beat myself up all day if I wear them.

     I still can’t seem to shake the feeling that my body takes up a little too much space. And of course, I hate that that is something I tell myself. I’m a firm believer that everybody and every body is beautiful! How dare I poison myself with these thoughts! I’ve grown to be proud of the psychological and artistic space I take up. I’m proud of the woman I’ve become....but why do I still struggle so much to be proud of the body that houses that amazing woman? Why is it that I still want to accentuate my waist and hide all the rest?

     I wish I had answers that felt more significant than “treat yourself the way you’d treat other women” or “you’re your own worst critic; no one sees your flaws like you do” or something else equally pithy and frivolous-sounding. Perhaps if I spent more time thinking about things other than the shape of my sack of flesh, I’d have more answers. But today was a skirt day.

And that’s okay too.

By: Melissa MacKenzie

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