I want to know who the women are who can fit into jeans.
Seriously: REVEAL THYSELF.
Because I don't understand. They cost like $70. Sometimes they cost even more. But they are selling. Someone is buying them.
They are all skinny now; tiny, brilliantly-colored leg tubes like pipe cleaners. They come in such inviting shades. Jewel tones.
I now want to paint my walls in jewel tones and it's probably only because of all the skinny jeans. They look delicious! I want to eat everyone's legs.
But I don't understand everyone's legs.
Or rather, something is wrong with mine.
No, more than just one thing. Everything is wrong with my legs.
I know, because I have tried jeans on. I did it just the other day.
I took four pairs, to be safe -- each one a different size. One of them, I thought logically, had to be the one. I chose a fuchsia pair, of course, and candy red, and royal blue and mustard. I would be dashing, I imagined. I would successfully wear dizzingly high heels for the first time under the clipped ends of the jeans, and above there would be some gauzy, playful, devastatingly chic tunic belted with something involving faux alligator skin maybe. Huge earrings, fierce lipstick and cheekbones. Yes. I would suddenly have cheekbones in these jeans.
I struggled with the first pair, putting up a valiant fight. Almost, almost, just pull, dammit. Just pull harder, you pathetic weakling. Just get them over the thighs. Shit. They aren't meant for you. No thighs allowed. These are half-leg pants, like hobbles. Very fashionable. You wear your best underwear and some upper thigh jewelry. Ha ha. OK, so, no.
Not losing hope. Still with plenty of spirit. Good things are going to happen here. I can feel it. I still believe.
These go over my ankles without any protest, so that's promising. I can almost get them to my crotch. I am sweating with the effort. I am not in shape. I am bending over forward and I'm naked from the waist up because, of course, I was wearing a dress when I came in so you can't try on jeans without taking it off, and I catch sight of my breasts sliding in the bra, as always, like bats fluttering in their own personalized caves, plenty of space. And in a flash my mind goes shoulders are too broad for size of breasts waist too thick for length of neck --
Before I straighten up and cut it off.
I lean backwards now, yanking. It's just as hard to get them off me. I wonder what it's like for the millions of women removing their skinny jeans all over the world right now. Are we all suffering the same way? Sisterhood!
These I can actually get over my butt, so it's a great moment of triumph. But I'm not really feeling it, because there's my belly, squishing obscenely above, a pillow of inappropriateness. I feel like my butt is being compressed and I can clearly make out the contours of my vagina. Vulva. Whatever. I try standing differently. I cock one hip flirtatiously. It's not flirtatious, and now my vagina/vulva/that magical place between my legs hurts faintly.
Damn. Damn. Next?
It takes me a while to get out of the last ones.
Here is my final chance. There's no way I'm going out there for other options. This is it.
It becomes immediately clear that my legs are embarrassingly short. So short that no one who has ever made jeans has ever even imagined that legs could be this short. If someone suggested to any of them that this could happen they would bite their lips, elegantly puzzled, and finally say uncomfortably, "I hear there is a surgery for this that they do in China..."
But I refuse to get it! I am proud of who I am!
Or, actually, I didn't even know how bad I was until now.
The problem is that I have this friend who loves to shop and she always gave me her worn-in hand-me-down jeans, and they were only a little too long and not very skinny and so I never had to go jeans shopping and anyway I want to buy things prettier than jeans if I'm going to spend that much money so I rarely even think about them. Which I now realize has been integral to my self-esteem over the years.
I am a biological failure standing half naked in a fluorescent-lit shoebox fitting room. It is shameful. I cross my thick arms over my slender breasts. My face looks twenty years older than it is and that seems sort of miraculous, in a terrible way. There are no cheekbones.
I have learned a lot. In fact, I now know everything that is wrong with my legs:
The ankles aren't long enough or slim enough
A weird shape around the hips
There might actually even be more.
I will never be able to buy jeans. At least not the ones that people like to wear these days (although even the non-skinny variety are going to be too long).
Walking out of the store, I vaguely remember how much I loved my legs when I was a teenager. You know, back when I was homeschooled and doing slam poetry and feeling like I was about to conquer and redecorate the whole world. I used to sit naked in front of my mirror, sketching myself, being all pleased and obnoxious and admiring the lines of the body that was all mine. I was proud of those legs. I loved their curves. They were compact and sweet.
They still are, actually.
It's just the damn jeans.
And all the assumptions they make about how my legs should fit into them.
A version of this piece appeared originally on Eat the Damn Cake, where other beauty misadventures happen all the time
Follow Kate Fridkis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/eatthedamncake