Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Those Ugly Pants

When I think back to what my life was like at my heaviest weight, an image comes to mind—a size 18-20 pair of brown, work slacks. For me, those pants seem to symbolize the most depressing aspects of being so heavily overweight; the ill-fitting cut, boring, non-descript color, and the cheap, flimsy material all are all reminders of the bleak life I led when I moved to Richmond. I was massively overweight, insecure, and broke.

I remember that I bought the pants in a moment of desperation in the fall of 2009, when I hadn’t done laundry in weeks and was desperate for a pair of clean, fitted pants. I went to the Lane Bryant, ten minutes from my house--that haven for plus-sized women where I figured that I could find a pair of pants that fit my chunky body. Except that I couldn’t.

I tried all the styles, and yet I couldn’t find a pair of pants that fit snugly over my stomach, hips, and thighs. Either the waistband was too tight, or the pants ballooned over my legs. It was a disaster. I remember walking out in front of the salespeople, twirling around, and seeing the confused looks on their faces. What possible style could fit my 5’5’’ body, carrying an additional 90lbs on its frame?

In the end, I ended up with a pair of too-long, brown slacks that fit too snugly around my waist and bagged out over my butt and thighs. I remember handing my credit card over to the salesperson and sighing with frustration—I guess this was the best I could do.

Here’s a photo of the pants:

I wore those ugly, brown pants throughout the fall and winter months of 2009-2010, usually paired with a baggy black shirt and my scruffy black loafers. I hardly ever wore make-up and my hair was a dull, washed out shade of brown. Needless to say, this was not a particularly pretty period of my life. Occasionally, I’d notice other women with flattering, stylish outfits--women who dared to tight dresses, leggings, and high heels. But when I went shopping and tried on louder, more exciting outfits, I was horrified by the rolls of my stomach, the fat hanging from my arms, the wide expanse of my thighs. The dark, looser clothing seemed to hide the flaws of my body, or so I thought at the time. I had temper tantrums and crying fits in dressing rooms, as the three way mirrors mercilessly showed me the person I had become.

As soon—and I mean AS SOON—as I started to lose weight, I packed my dreaded dark clothes away in boxes and started wearing brighter shades of clothing. At first, I was super self-conscious, but after a while, I started to gain the confidence to wear clothes that hugged my imperfect figure and colors/ patterns that demanded attention. I put highlights in my hair (as you are aware, coloring my hair has been a major dilemma in my life, haha). I remember the first time I wore striped, sexy stockings to work. At first, people commented on my fashion changes—after all, I’d gone from dressing like a middle-aged person to dressing like a 20-something (or on my less fortunate days--a teenager, haha). But then after a while, they stopped noticing my clothing choices, just as they adjusted to my 60 pound weight loss.

Now this is not to say that my fashion sense has necessarily improved over the year. But for the first time, I feel that I have a sense of my own particular style. I own funky sunglasses, hippy dresses, artsy t-shirts, and tight jeans (that fit over my stomach and thighs, thank goodness). Now that I’m not so preoccupied with hiding my body, I can focus on wearing clothes that I like. Throwing out that pair of brown pants was one of my most liberating experiences as a result of my weight loss. Of course, in retrospect, I could have thrown them out at any time ;)

Do you have any items of clothing that symbolize your low self esteem at your highest weight? And, if you have gotten rid of the clothing, what compelled you to dispose of it?


  1. Still hanging in my closet are "rectangle shirts" that just draped on me...blue, white, black...horribly ugly, not flattering at all...but they're no longer worn...and are going to Goodwill when the weather gets nicer.

    Today, 21 pounds later, I wore a beautifully bright yellow cardigan! Pretty soon, my pants will all have to be altered to fit my continually slimming thighs and I'm loving every second of it!

  2. When I used to be at my highest weight in college I would only wear sweatpants. I never wear sweatpants now only cute dresses and jeans on occasion.

  3. Great post, Katie! One thing I regret is that I never held onto a pair of "fat pants" for comparison sake. I mean I know I was a size 18/20 so I can just go in a store, pull up a pair of those size pants, and see how they fit now, but to have held on to a pair of pants that were mine that I actually wore would be a totally different experience.

  4. I had a pair of cotton dress pants from new york and company. I used to wear those, because nothing really fit me. They were shapeless, a bit too large ("wide leg"), and awful. I threw them out a few weeks ago, haha.

  5. Um, yeah. XXL gray men's sweatpants sound familiar?? I would come home from work or school every night and put those things on. Adam hated them and I finally threw them out after I dug them out of my closet a few months ago. They were a comfort item, a way to hide.

    I loved those pants and hated those pants at the same time.

    I don't miss them, though.

    Mostly because I have leggings now!!

  6. I did a HUGE Goodwill donation in January. It felt great to be rid of those old "fat" clothes. And yet, I still cried when I drove away from the donation center. It was such an emotional moment for me, knowing that I would never need those clothes again. One item was a winter coat, size 2X. That one had been through a lot with me, and I miss it. But I don't regret donating! I actually am about to go through my closets and drawers (spring cleaning WILL happen this year...) and make another drop-off.