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Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Am I really that bitch who lets a piece of fabric dictate the status of her mental health? As it turns out, yes, yes I am.

For as long as I can remember, denim shopping has been hell on earth. It ruins my day every time I go, and yet, I keep going back for more even though the literal definition of insanity is having the same thing happen over and over again but still expecting different results.


I WILL walk into a store one day and find the perfect pair of jeans that do not cost the equivalent of a down payment on a vehicle. I must.


Trying on jeans usually goes something like the following:


I sit in my car in the parking lot, air conditioning on full blast because I started nervous sweating the second I left my house 20 minutes ago. I am taking big, deep, calming belly breaths and will be repeating my mantra at least 17 times before I walk into the store: I am moisturized, I am hydrated, I have a great ass, and I am unbothered by fabric.


My game plan is to grab every single option they have available in sizes ranging from 28-32, which equates to roughly 27 styles x 5 sizes per style, which brings to me to 135 pairs of jean to try on. I remain calm, cool, and collected and realized that that number is less than the last time I did this to myself, and let a brief glimmer of hope flash before me; maybe this won't be so bad. Maybe I'll only be here for 4 hours instead of 6? And maybe I'll only rip one person's head off instead of 3??


After collecting a literal truck load of jeans to cart with me to the dressing room, I am only allowed in with a fraction of the 135 pairs I get to try on because the sweet sweet sales associate is just doing her job and had to cap me at ten items. I strip down, making sure I take full advantage of the world's worst fluorescent lighting (I mean, why is this the case in EVERY dressing room I go into? Do they not realize that they should be making us look like airbrushed versions of Kate Middleton? We are there because we want to buy things, why are you making us look like Shrek?) and investigate every dimple on my ass cheeks and every blemish on my face before I actually start to try clothing on.


The legs fit okay on the first pair of jeans, but they are too loose in the crotch and waist; a classic conundrum. To the next pair I go; it's the same style but the next size down to see if that's any improvement. Now, I can't even pull them over my thighs. I am moisturized, I am hydrated, I have a great ass, and I am unbothered by fabric. The subsequent 8 pairs are all also complete fucking disasters. My mood progresses to violent, heated, and on the verge of going postal, but I bring them all out to sales associate with a plastered on smile and jokingly say, "I struck out on this round" with a very fake laugh and load up on the next ten pairs.


During jeans 11-20, the problem with the style is that I could fit an entire fucking rotisserie chicken in the waistband gap in the back when I sit down even though they magically fit my thighs and crotch. One after the other, I keep chugging along; no after no after no after NO. I am now two hours deep into this shopping excursion and my stomach is requesting another 30-35 grams of protein and at least 50 grams of carbohydrates to sustain my current activity level, but I pretend hunger doesn't exist and keep powering through (lesson #1 I continue to learn the hard way: bring snacks, always). Somewhere in the mid 80s, I find a truly magical pair of stretchy, soft, good butt pockets, high waisted, straight leg, perfect length, beautiful wash jeans that make my heart skip a beat. Is this happening? Is this real life? Did I die and go to heaven and am currently having an out-of-body experience? I then look at the price tag and come crashing back into my body when I see that they cost approximately $378 dollars. There is no fucking WAY I can justify that kind of cash for something I'd wear a handful of times per year.


I slowly take them off, relishing the softness, and reluctantly hang them back up. I let my hand slowly run down the front of the pant leg like I am caressing Chris Evans' chest, picturing the beautiful future we could have together and how hot we'd look walking down the street. In the 20 seconds it took for me to hang them back up, my brain talked me through three different scenarios:

"Just swipe your credit card Margaret, it'll be worth it."

"What if I pay half cash/half credit? That's responsible right?"

"Just make an OnlyFans account and sell your body to creepy old men and then you could have unlimited pairs of jeans like this."


Financial responsibility and a properly functional moral compass win the debate, but I still keep them in the dressing room for one last try on at the end of the 135th pair so I can feel good about myself after destroying my self esteem with the other 134 pairs. (Lesson #2 I continue to learn the hard way: look at the price tag *before* trying on the jeans so I don't keep breaking my own heart.)


Fast forward to the very last pair of jeans, which was also a no (who would have guessed?), and now I've narrowed it down to two pairs that can both be described as 'pretty okay but totally forgettable.' They are certainly not the Chris Evans of denim, but more like the J-name Bumble date I just went on last Monday that left me slightly bored and feeling like I could do so much better for myself. They only made the final cut because they are priced fairly and I will not need to resort to desperate measures to pay for them. The wash on the first pair of maybes is kind of atrocious and reminds me of shopping at Limited Too with my mom in 3rd grade. The second pair of maybes can only be managed with a belt, but at least I'm not low-key mortified to be seen in public in them, so they will be the ones coming home with me.


Me walking out of the store after the debacle is over:


My new pair of leg prisons will undoubtedly sit in my closet for a minimum of 8 weeks before the opportunity arises to wear them. I put them on and come to the conclusion that they're the worst pair of jeans ever and that I am never wearing them because they are desperately uncomfortable and look fucking awful but the return policy said 30 days and I am now shit out of luck.


The end.


P.S. I would like to send a big fuck you to whoever thought it was a good idea to bring back the 501 Levis. Whose body do those ACTUALLY fit beside Cindy fucking Crawford's? Good luck sitting down in those suckers and taking a full inhale without either A) giving yourself a hernia or B) popping the button off and giving yourself a black eye because it rebounded off the wall directly into your face.


P.P.S. I'm starting a petition to cancel the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Think about how many young women and girls that movie given false hope to. A singular pair of jeans that fits all of those shapes and sizes of women over multiple years?? PLEASE.



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