To The Forlorn Parachute Pants
One girls open letter to the Harem Pants that could have been.
Written by Ella Ceron, edited by Leandra Medine
By all accounts, you were just sweatpants.
Silk color-blocked parachute pants with a paper bag waist and a drop crotch to make MC Hammer proud, with the kind of sheen usually reserved for 80s classic, satin nightmares, to be exact. You were also, in case you’ve forgotten, white and red, which I suppose could have veered into a lurid Santa Claus, Happy Birthday Murrica! sort of danger zone – but which only read to me as infinite possibilities. It’s like you were just sitting there, waiting for me. For me! And I wanted you desperately.
But when I tried you on, my dreams of proprietorship died spectacularly. Your waist did nothing for my waist. The way your generous, buttery fabric pooled down to my knees was in direct contrast to the way it seemed to be held aloft by my butt like a tent and its pole, and yet all that concealment only seemed to make my already solid thighs even more prominent. Your leg tapered down too sharply toward my ankle, and that white racing stripe down your side created a violent winding road down my leg. Despite our comprehensive differences, though, I loved you. I wanted to have you. But I put you down. My body would have failed you.
We all have horror stories rooted in the unforgiving changing room that stem from our stupid rules about looking a certain way when shopping for bathing suits or crisp new jeans and avoiding, say, peplums if our hips can’t lie.
But – hello, earth to reader – the human body comes in all shapes and sizes. This is so platitudinal and obvious that it’s gross. It is also, however, the one truth we seem most hell-bent on disproving.
Whether we’re elongating or slimifying or Spanx-ing or Wonderbra-ing, we’re always expecting clothes to do something for us but maybe we should start thinking less about what the clothes – or more specifically in this case, the pants – can do for us, and more about what we can do for them.
How clothing makes us feel is a complex subject and the attached emotions run an extensive gamut. What concerns me, really, is that it seems like our emotions are tethered to the opinions of other people. I really did like those parachute pants. I could have made concessions in the arena of that which is pleasing-to-the-thigh but I knew I’d get the judgmental gaze, the confounded stare, and I wasn’t ready for that. People wouldn’t understand that I’d made the proactive decision to abandon what looks conventionally “good” in order to feel unilaterally good. Those pants were what I now call Do You! clothes–wherein my body is my body and no one else’s, thus rendering any external opinions certifiably moot.
So if you’re listening, stop-sign sweatpants, I’m sorry I let you pass into the realm of Clothing That Could Have Been. I hope your current owner treats you the way you’re supposed to be treated: like a vessel of self-expression. I shouldn’t have deemed myself unworthy of you based on such silly pretenses. If only on that day I had remembered the cardinal rule care of one Little Miss Sunshine: wear what you love, and fuck the rest.