So, today, I bought a pair of jeans.

I do realize that this is not a noteworthy event for most people, but it was for me, today. Because I did not buy just any old pair of jeans. I bought a pair of size 18 jeans.

Let me tell you a little bit about what happens when you gain a lot of weight over a long period of time. Usually, you'll continue to shop in the regular-size departments of regular-size stores, because you are in denial about the fact that fewer and fewer of the things you find there fit, and those things that do don't fit very well or look very good. You start to avoid anything with a number and look for clothes marked "XL" and you learn to love elastic. You start to get used to the idea that maybe the clothes in the puzzlingly titled "Women's" department aren't really all that bad, but it may be months before you force yourself to actually set foot among the racks where the sizes start at 16 instead of ending there.

Soon, the inevitable: There comes a day where you can no longer deny reality, and on this day, you walk into Lane Bryant for the very first time. And let's be honest. This day sucks.

Understand that I do not believe there is anything wrong with Lane Bryant (their clothes are, in fact, rather stylish) or the people who patronize it (I am one of them). But I will bet all I have that there has never been a woman who actually celebrated the day she started shopping there.

I actually remember this day quite clearly, and funnily enough, it has to do with jeans. When I was no longer able to buy jeans in a "regular" size, which was around the time I graduated from college, I just quit buying jeans altogether. Then a similarly-sized friend came to visit me in Los Angeles and was shocked to discover that I did not own a pair of jeans. We drove to the mall, she shoved me into a Lane Bryant, and I bought my first pair of jeans in two years. They were a size 22.

This is a lot to deal with in one day.


But, see, you get used to it. And pretty soon, you're okay with the fact that you're a 22, because at least you're not a 24, and when you buy jeans that are 24, you're really only doing it because you want them baggy. Really.

And maybe you're a proud 22/24, just like Camryn Manheim, an intelligent, talented woman you respect and admire because she made it in a business which values a woman's physical appearance above everything else, including intelligence and talent. Maybe you are a vibrant and fashionable and sexy 22/24 who feels completely at ease with her body, who knows she is beautiful, who knows she is worthy, who loves and is loved.

But maybe you're not. Maybe you're the exact opposite of all those things.


So you go to work on fixing some things that are broken in you, and one day you discover that you can remove your size 24 Venezia jeans without unbuttoning or unzipping them. Off you go to Dillard's and park next to the familiar door which enters into the Women's department. You grab a pair of Levi's, size 22 Long, and take them to the dressing room, and discover that they fit comfortably around your stomach, hips, and thighs, but gap a little in the back of the waist. And since finding a pair of jeans that fit a woman perfectly in all four places is a little like the search for the Holy Grail, you buy them.

A few weeks later, you return to Dillard's, back to the Levi's counter in the Women's department, and you pick up a pair of 20's and try them on. They still gap in the back, but it isn't like you tuck anything in anyway, and the other places are snug, but doable, and you buy them, even though the 22's still look okay.

Then, one day, you realize that the 22's aren't working anymore, and the 20's are not snug anymore and are perhaps even a little roomy, but you're not sure you're in the land of the tens, and you're afraid to hope. But you need a suit, so you have to go shopping anyway, and you figure that while you're there, you might as well try on a pair of 18's, just out of curiosity, just to see how close you are.

And you pick them up and take them to the dressing room and pull off your 20's and put one leg into the 18's and hold your breath and put the other leg in and pull them up and button them and zip them and reach around and smile at the ever-present gap in the back. And it hits you that one day, soon, you will not be able to buy Levi's anymore because you won't be able to have the gap when you're tucking things in. And you realize that you can't remember the last time you ever tucked anything in, and you stand sideways and lift up your shirt and stare in the mirror at the gap and your eyes well up, just a little, because you really can tell that a lot of your body isn't there anymore, and you know that you are fixing things, and you are happy.

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