In my closet hangs a pair of white pants that I have owned for 10 years and never worn.
They started out as motivation to lose weight. I bought them on sale one winter and thought that by the next summer I’d have lost enough weight to carry them off. I’m still waiting. Over the years, they have become a constant reminder of the body that I will probably never have again. They glare at me, perfectly pressed, over the now permanent crease from the hanger they have rested upon for 10 years, and laugh.
I feel them staring at me every time I have to do that little dance to get a pair of jeans on after I’ve washed them. You know the one. First you squat, then you bounce a few times, stand up, squat, bounce, stand again, then you suck your stomach in as far as you can so you can button them. They mock the inevitable muffin top that appears when I finally release my breath and my stomach spills out over my waistband. They are very judgmental pants.
Sometimes I consider getting rid of them. I could sell them to one of those second-hand clothing stores, or donate them to charity. They’d hate that. But there is a part of me that still believes, on some entirely delusional level, that I might lose 30 pounds tomorrow and be overwhelmed by the desire to wear decade-old white slacks. Then what would I do? So I keep them.
These pants have become a tangible embodiment of all the insecurities and disappointments I have about my aging, war-torn, gave-birth-to-three-kids body. If I’m ever feeling too good about myself, I just try on the white pants. Failing to pull them on past my knees is enough to bring me crashing back down to Earth. They’re like a critical mother, unfaithful boyfriend, and model-skinny best friend all rolled into one. Even my neuroses are multi-tasking.
Why do I care what last decade’s pants think? My body has grown three beautiful children, expanded with their bodies as they grew, changed and shifted to bring them into the world, then solely nourished them while they adjusted to their new surroundings. A few stretch marks here and a little extra skin there are small prices to pay for the lives of my wonderful, tiny people.
A woman’s body is the closest thing to a goddess walking the Earth. It takes the tiniest cell and turns it into a complex, unique, and autonomous being. It bends, but does not break. It undergoes a metamorphosis with the grace and beauty of a butterfly, but only a woman has the power to return to her pupal state. Well, mostly.
The tag on the inside of the white pants says DRY CLEAN ONLY. Who are they to judge? One trip around a washing machine and they’d be permanently misshapen. At least I have Pilates.
Besides, what would a busy, mother of three, need with a pair of white dress pants anyway? If there ever comes a day when I have chased my children around the kitchen so many times, and forgotten to eat so many meals, that I could fit into the pants, I will take my revenge. I will wear them once, and only once.
I will hang them up at the end of what I’m sure will be a very long day of messy crafts, food fights, Play Doh, mud pies, and runny noses. I will hang them on the same hanger from which they’ve mocked me all these years. They will no longer intimidate me with their crisp pleats and flawless white silk. I will look down on them, with their now dirty knees, food stains, and grubby, glittery hand prints on the butt and smile, victorious. I wont even brush the Play Doh or fruit snacks off the fine fabric.
However, until that day comes I will bury those white pants behind pair after pair of yoga pants and tunic tops. I will ignore them until I can no longer hear the muffled cries of disgust when I select a pair of sweats off the floor of the closet, sniff them, wrinkle my nose, but put them on anyway because I can’t be bothered to find another pair and the baby is screaming in her crib.
Take that, judgmental pants.