Written for Carol's Daughter's www.transitioningmovement.com-So I accidentally bought a pair of skinny jeans... I've always HATED the idea of skinny jeans for dudes, but I wore them today and I'm wondering what that says about me on so many levels...
First of all, let me answer the obvious question. How did I "accidentally" purchase a pair skinny jeans? Well, basically what had happened was, I started a new job that required me to "enhance" my wardrobe - because my office is on 59th and Lexington in NYC, and all... Anyway, I run to Burlington Coat Factory (because I refuse to pay department store prices for name brand crap) and start grabbing slim fit button up dress shirts and jeans.
The problem was that I had my three kids with me. So with a 5 month old strapped to my chest, a 2 year old strapped in a double stroller and a 5 year old doing Power Ranger kung-fu moves on the clothing racks, I didn't have time to try on anything - including the jeans. Hey, I saw the waste size was 34 and the length was 32 and I was like "that's what's up" and rushed the register...
Long story short, it was time to put on my jeans for work and I'm noticing that it's taking a bit more effort to get them on, and when I finally get them on, I'm wondering why I can see the muscle tone in my calf... Wondering if I'd bought an irregular pair of jeans, I take a look a the tag I ripped off and facepalm! My face dropped as I turned to my wife "Yo! Babe! I accidentally bought skinny jeans!" "Oh, they look cute," she said, but no, it wasn't cute at all... Something felt wrong with the world, and I had a dilemma, because I accidentally bought a pair of skinny jeans and there was no way in hell that I was gonna spend another 40 minutes on the long layaway/returns line at Burlington Coat Factory to return them.
So after putting it off for as long as I could, I wore them to work and I was plagued with self-conscious anxiety. My mind started playing tricks on me, making me think the jeans were tighter than they actually are... I mean, in my mind I might as well have been wearing the pants Prince wore in the movie Purple Rain. So why all the anxiety and what's my beef with skinny jeans? Well, in a word, conformity. Part of me felt like I was surrendering my identity as a counter-cultural being, and that, in a manner of speaking, is a fate worse than death.
You see, just one year ago , I was a rebel. I had locs that extended down to my back. I drove a sedan and worked on a hit NBC television show where I wore cargo pants and construction boots because no one cares what you wear in film/television production. Now, a year later, I have a short caesar haircut, I drive a minivan and on top of all that I'm wearing skinny jeans because I work in corporate America where everyone cares what you look like. Now in fairness, I work in the media department, so we're given some liberty in our wardrobe choices, but the feeling is still the same... The feeling that I'm slowly but surely spiraling into mundanity.
You see, it's not that I think skinny jeans is some kind of fashion faux pas, in fact the problem is quite the opposite. Skinny jeans, for me is the quintessential sign that I've joined the rat race; that population of people who (to varying degrees) find validation in their ability to look like the manaquin in the Banana Republic store front display because those outfits connects us to socially acceptable standards of success. It's the reason we all have suddenly become wine connoisseurs and the reason we pay for overpriced Starbucks coffee, when we know damn well Dunkin Donuts coffee tastes better. It's our attempt at living an American dream that has become so accessible that we no longer have to dream about it. In fact you no longer have to be hungry for it because it's practically being force fed to you by the media, fashion and entertainment.
So I guess, maybe my issue with skinny jeans isn't really the skinny jeans, but fear. Fear that I've grown so tired of my big dreams that I've accepted society's small dreams as a substitute. Fear that I've so failed at reaching my own version of success that I've resorted to wearing skinny jeans like a costume of a successful character... Fear that I've been successfully seduced by the pop-culture matrix.