Friday, March 22, 2013

The Skinny on Skinny

In Sex and the City (episode seven, season six, not that we're keeping score or anything), Miranda celebrates a milestone moment. An event of life-affirming, unbridled joy. It's one that women everywhere can relate to. 

She fit into her "skinny jeans."

Charlotte: How'd you do it?

Miranda: Well, I got pregnant, became a single mother, and stopped having any time to eat.

Samantha: Oh, that's a diet I won't be trying.

What is it about skinny jeans? Let's start at the beginning. We live in a culture where the word "skinny" doesn't just mean slim. It means beautiful, desirable. It connotes self-control, righteous discipline. If I am skinny and you are not, I am somehow more worthy than you. If you are skinny and I am not, I will hate you — or, at least, avoid you until you put on a few. 

And, what is it about jeans? They are supposed to be comfortable. They are supposed to be casual. But, deep down inside, we all envy the emaciated starlet who can get away with skin-tight denim (paired with stilettos and a lamé top) on the red carpet. She doesn't need a fabulous gown because she herself is so fabulous.

We sneer at her.

We want to be her.

The night before our recent vacation to New Orleans, I was packing and on a sudden urge, I pulled out my favorite pair of jeans. Did I dare try them on? The last time I did, it was not very pretty. But, I'd been on a strict diet and exercise regime since New Year's, and I knew I had lost some pounds. Would the jeans fit? If they did, I would be ecstatic. All my hard work would have paid off and I would be ecstatic. The jeans would go with us to Louisiana, and I would be ecstatic. (Did I mention I would be ecstatic?) If they still didn't fit, I would fall into a deep despair and probably drown my sorrows in a bottle of pinot grigio and a pint of Ben & Jerry's, thereby undoing a month and a half of progress. It was a risk I was willing to take. Lo and behold, they not only zipped but there was room to spare! I could breathe and walk and shake my money maker. With great happiness, I dropped them into the suitcase, anticipating an even sweeter week off now that my skinny jeans and I were happily reunited. 

At this point, I should probably mention that there was a time when these skinny jeans were not skinny jeans. They were just my regular jeans. In fact, I have two other pairs of skinny jeans (skinnier and skinniest) that haven't been out of the closet for years. And, that's where they will most likely stay, short of my contracting an intestinal infection or having my hip bones surgically removed.

The other day, my teenage daughter and I were at the mall exchanging some shirts at Forever 21 and looking at bathing suits. "There's one more thing I need," she told me. "New jeans."

I had been a good sport (and muchos generous mom) all afternoon, but there was a line to draw here. "No way," I told her. "You have a million pairs of jeans." Of course, I was exaggerating a bit. She doesn't really have a million, but she has about a dozen. How do I know this? Because every couple of weeks, I can't take it anymore and clean her room. Finding, folding and hanging her vast assortment of denim is no quick or easy task.  

She pouted and begged and cajoled and bargained, and I finally agreed to let her spend her own money on the coveted  distressed skinny jeggings. In truth, I am a sucker mom of the first order — and more than a little in awe of anyone who can get away with jeggings. (Heck, it's three weeks later and I'm still ecstatic (ecstatic!) about squeezing into my size 10 Liz Claiborne mom jeans.)

At least she didn't ask me for the latest in skinny skinny, recently launched by American Eagle Outfitters. These are a study in minimalist casual, pants that are (exactly) as unique as you are, jeans that truly let you be you (for all the world to see).

The campaign stresses that the skinny skinny is available in limited quantities, and when you try to order these one-size-fits-all jeans in a can, you learn that they're sold out. But, American Eagle, smart marketers as well as adept practical jokers, asks for your email address. 

The funniest thing about the promotion, however, isn't the video or the copy ("contoured through the thigh, knee and ankle, they fit like a second skin") or the product shots ("two signature washes"). It's how many people apparently bought the idea and would have bought the products had they actually existed. Really.

Because, when it comes to jeans, less is most definitely more. 

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