Shame by Skinny Jeans

Vain enough?

Vain enough?


My skinny widow pants no longer fit. My stomach muffins over the top. These are the pants I bought after George died.  I was down about 15 pounds, I was going to start venturing out again and my old clothes were too big.

My first reaction when I recently tried on the damn pants  and they were tight was disappointment, thinking I looked better when I was thin. I felt ashamed: look how much I’ve been eating to have filled out again! How could I have let myself be so undisciplined. I should have been more careful; my metabolism isn’t what it used to be.

Then I thought, this is so dumb. Be healthy and eat the cookie. Toss out the bummer pants. Buy new ones. There, problem solved. It’s not me, its the pants. They tried to judge me, but I eliminated them.

But I kept the pants and started dieting.

Maybe it’s because I sit alone in my home office all day, but this is a deep quandary to me.

Like so many women I know, at least those of my generation, my default is to think I’m at my best and most attractive when I’m at my thinnest. Several of my friends have “divorce pants” they bought when they lost weight because they were were too upset to eat regularly during their divorces.

When the stress of the divorce receded, they started eating normally again, but they regret that the pants don’t fit anymore. I’ve had several friends say they wish they could be as thin as they were during their divorce days, just without the related agony.

Why can’t we just thank the pants for getting us through hard times, then get rid of them? They’ve served their purpose. Being curvier and happier is an accomplishment. We’re taking steps to recover from our losses. That takes work. I’ve put a lot of effort into trying to be happy as a widow, to see life on my own as a gift, not as a shadow world without my husband.

I stopped online dating because I hated thinking of myself as a commodity I was marketing to prospective dates.  I didn’t like that I was putting myself “out there” in a way that was trying to be appealing to men.

After five months of being on several sites, I did find a boyfriend. We’ve been together over a year and he’s never complained that I was thinner when we first started dating. He thinks I look great now. If he did want me to lose weight, I wouldn’t value him very much.

So, why am I still trying on the damn pants?

In the months after George died, I thought I needed to be attractive so people wouldn’t pity me for being a lonely widow. Which is sort of absurd; “She lost her husband, but look at that flat stomach!” Or maybe it was a control issue. I couldn’t change death by cancer, but I could change my figure.

Or maybe now I can’t accept that I’m aging and my body’s changing. Just reading that sentence bugs me. Like, that isn’t happening! I’m going to fight it!  But why if it’s inevitable.  Even I don’t think that skinny jeans are a barrier against mortality.

So, do any of you guys do this? Torture yourself with aspirational clothing that shames you? And why do we do this? I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be eating three triscuits with a mini-cube of granulated, lo-fat cheese


  • Debra says:

    Love this post! Same thing happened to me. Lost my husband 27 months ago. Lost about 20 pounds and had to buy new clothes as well. Recently started putting some weight back on and I definitely have mixed feelings about it, too. I liked that I lost that much…it felt good, but I also like that emotions have evened out a bit and I eat and drink more normally. Also am feeling the same way about the online dating. Ugh…just ugh! Taking a break from it because absolutely nothing is happening there for me.

    • Debbie says:

      Thank you on the post! Sorry on the dating. I met my boyfriend on-line, but most guys out there are just really flawed. (And my guy is definitely not for marrying). I’m glad you’re feeling better. 27 months is so recent. Please just be super kind to yourself.

  • Bob H says:

    Yes I’m a guy and yes we go through the same thing except it’s not with skinny jeans. After my wife passed and the mist started clearing, I had realized that I lost the weight which had wished I had lost when Lisa was still alive. Plus, the fear of standing in front of the mirror and thinking, “who would want to sleep with this” can be a bit depressing (Men never change). It’s been 3 and a half years, I’m 53 and I gain just a little weight back, this could be because you let your guard down when you are seeing someone, which I am. Before I leave on this note, online dating sucks but I hate to say this but If it wasn’t for online dating I never would have met this wonderful women I’m with now.

    • Debbie says:

      So, men do this too… And I let myself slip a bit now that I have boyfriend. And I met my guy online…

  • Jeanette says:

    I too lost 15 lbs. after the death of my husband. I went out and bought some fabulous, trendy high waisted pants that looked perfect with my new flat pre-maternity-weight stomach. Some people commented on how good I looked, and although my figure looked good, it was coupled with a grieving, way to thin face that showed my age. Fast forward a year and the weight was back on. I am going by the “fat fills in the wrinkles” philosophy, because without that lovely 20 year old skin tone, it just sags, and botox isn’t for me. I got rid of the skinny wardrobe and am sticking with my ‘set weight’, which stubbornly comes back if I eat one brownie anyway. If my pants are too tight, I take note and fix it but I don’t try to got back there, it’s way too stressful and monopolizes my thoughts.
    I sat next to a very Rubenesque woman at a wedding recently, and she OWNED it. She was sexy and confident, and I think if I were a man or attracted to women, I would have hit on her. The key is to own it, whatever the so-called deficit. It’s cliche, but confidence and positivity are most attractive attributes.

    • Debbie says:

      Excellent points Jeanette. I think someone who’s comfortable in their skin and just enjoying themselves is far more attractive than someone who isn’t regardless of weight. Btw, you look fabulous!