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