My thighs are still tingling.
It’s been seven days since the new pair of black skinny jeans arrived in the mail. Seven days of stretchable denim vacuum-sealed around my shins, thighs and the area of my body most sensitive to pressure. Seven days wearing what was once part of the hipster uniform, and is now the standard-style of pants for men of all stripes, according to no less august a source than the Wall Street Journal.
According to that report, Levi Strauss, Gap and other manufacturers of men’s skinny jeans are now making them bigger and stretchier to accommodate the average chicken-wings-and-Corona consuming American male. The brand True Religion has apparently incorporated a whole new “four-way stretch” spandex technology, aiming to democratize skinny jeans for those over 110 pounds.
Such efforts are directed at men just like me. I’m not skinny. Tight clothes do not flatter me. But if the jean-makers want to squeeze my thick thighs into a pair of impossibly tight pants, who am I to stop them? For one week recently, I donned a pair of skin-tight, crotch-assaulting skinny jeans to see how it could change my life.
My skinny jeans arrive in white poly envelope. They arrive in the mail, you see, because I had to special-order them. My 38-inch waist size is unavailable at the local mall’s H&M—apparently, most Swedes can slide into a pair of skinny jeans no problem. Instead, I buy American, purchasing online a pair of black Levis 510 Stratus jeans from the Red Tab Collection, cut super-skinny through the leg with a medium rise. They have a 32-inch inseam and 6.25″ leg opening. Leave it to the U.S. to have supersized skinny jeans on offer for home delivery.
As I tug them on in the living room, I feel the material grab hold of every individual hair on my legs. Just as I am about to pull the low rise up by the belt loops, I lose balance and fall on the floor.
I look at myself in a full-length mirror. Fuck. I look like Robin Hood—or, better put, Hood’s outsized sidekick, Little John. I walk around the house all day like I had bucked a bronco. Let’s rephrase that: I walk as if the offensive line of the Denver Broncos stomped on my ball sac and wrapped black denim around it. When I sit down on the couch, I can’t cross my legs. I look over to the TV: CNN airs footage of the late Michael Jackson dancing in tight black pants on a lit-up sidewalk. It looks so easy.
I wear my skinny jeans to work. Thankfully, there’s not much going on at the Albany college where I teach. The giveaway that I am wearing skinny jeans, I’ve noticed already, is my ass. In physics, the displacement of one mass means it must go somewhere else. In my case, my ass is displaced outward.
The secretaries generally don’t give me the time of day as I rush in to pick up and drop off forms. Today, though, my Kardashian-scale booty causes them to look up from their monitors, puzzled.
“You look… different,” one tells me. She scans down to my black leggings. I tell her about my immersion journalism experiment, and she looks at me with pity. “The week will be over soon enough,” she says.
As I walk across campus, I notice my usual long stride length has been cut in half. Wearing skinnies forces me to think about my body all the time. I don’t want to think about my body all the time. In high school, I wore an ace bandage around my waist to hide what I thought were love handles. I weighed 145 pounds. Now, at 225, as I feel each displaced ass cheek move up and down, I’m just another obese American in tight pants.