When I was younger, I would occasionally watch my mom clear out her closet. Some of the clothes were ones I’d never seen before and that clearly dated from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s (before I was born). Some, on the other hand, were clothes I remembered her wearing, though not for a while.
“Mom,” I asked once, “why don’t you wear that anymore?”
“Because it doesn’t fit me anymore,” she replied.
I was young enough that I only associated “doesn’t fit me anymore” with the process of becoming a “big girl,” which to me meant growing up and was very much welcomed as a good thing. Later, however, I realized that becoming too big for clothing was sometimes seen as a negative. I started to notice the wistful tone in her voice when she said, “I can’t wear this anymore.”
Later still, I started to hear the advice.
“These are only one size too small, so I should keep them for when I fit into them again.”
“I wore these a year or so ago, so keeping them isn’t a far away goal.”
Eventually, “You should always keep a pair of skinny jeans in your closet, to remind you of the size you used to be because that’s the size you could become again.”
I was cleaning out my closet this new year, and I thought about my mom’s words. Keeping a pair of closet pants doesn’t strike me as all bad. For instance, they would serve to remind me:
- Of a time when I was less strong than I am now.
- Of a time when I conflated weight with health.
- Of a time when I set a great store by being a societally acceptable size.
- Of a time when I needed to master the fine art of saying, “Fuck you very much.”
With respect to the last point, at least, its time has come. I cleaned out my closet and found zero clothing that was one size too small. However, I found articles of clothes that were three, four, and five sizes too small.
When I looked at them, one part of me wanted to keep them. Not because I entertained delusions of fitting into those same jeans but because I associated those jeans with some awesome memories.
The jeans I bought when I’d been out of my previous abusive relationship for ten months? Wonderful.
Jeans I found that worked with my curves instead of causing vacuous ass gap? Fabulous.
The jeans I wore for nearly a month straight right after my dad died, when most of my mental stability was rooted in hay and sweat and horse shit? Irreplaceable.
But I’ll never wear any of them again. Because the body I had then is not the body I have now. This is not a bit of present mourning, mind you, because I love the body I have now. But it hurts to let go of the memories and the image of self that accompanied those memories. So it’s tough to look at those old jeans.
Still and all, they’re just jeans — and there are people in my area who could use those jeans at those sizes. The thrift store business is thriving in my neck of the woods, and turnover rates are amazing. I can’t account for specifics, of course, but as a general rule, it seems that people need whatever I can donate.
And I can donate these jeans, these jeans I’ll likely never wear again.
So it has come to be that my closet is devoid of skinny jeans. All the clothes that do not fit have moved on to greener pastures. All the pants I own are in sizes that fit me now. My mom, I think, part of her would be disappointed that I do not aspire to be a smaller size, not even in so small (pun intended) a way as hanging on to a single pair of skinny jeans.
I can only hope that is balanced by the understanding that my mother’s daughter loves herself as she is, in this moment, right now, nothing contingent on a smaller ass size.