fashion

'As a plus-size woman, I swore off jeans years ago. Here's what made me change my mind.'

I bought a pair of jeans last week for the first time in 10 years. Not because I’m going through a breakup and I am feeling the need to reinvent myself. 

I’m not Taylor Swift readying myself for a new era and I haven’t lost weight (I’ve actually gained weight recently), but because it felt like time. 

I’m finally in a place where I feel comfortable enough in my body to face good old-fashioned denim jeans.

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Previously, I’d sworn off jeans. 

I threw them out years ago and decided it was the right decision for the sake of my own mental health and body image. 

As a plus-size woman, jeans have always been something that have tortured me. I have cried in far too many Westfields over a pair of jeans not fitting me, at all ages. 

Even as a grown woman, I have been reduced to tears by denim. In my defence I grew up in the Paris Hilton, heroin thin era, flat stomachs were in and the word curves weren’t in anyone’s vocabulary.

In the past I have forced myself to squeeze into a pair of jeans that have left red marks over my tummy, just to say I was a specific size. 

I’ve done plenty of sucking in and zip struggling. Because I was always trying to fit into jeans instead of finding jeans that fit me. 

Like most women, my weight fluctuates and if my jeans suddenly felt tight or I could no longer do them up, I felt like a failure. 

Jeans sometimes felt like the disapproving voice of your mother or father or relative or society in general repeating on rotation - you are the wrong size, starve yourself now! I did not have a healthy relationship with them, so I gave them up. 

I followed the Marie Kondo rule. If it doesn’t spark joy, throw it out! I freed myself from something that made me feel bad, like my own version of burning the bra.

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So what changed?

Truthfully? My relationship with my body has changed, and that’s not something that has happened overnight. 

It’s taken years of therapy and working to reprogram my brain. Everyday I work to have the same amount of confidence a rude white man has on a dating app. (The kind of guy that posts in his bios - 'no brunettes'.) 

However, over the last few months the idea of change has no longer made me feel sad, but more like I’d enjoy mixing things up a bit. Out with the old and in with the new.

And jeans are ubiquitous. They are everywhere. 

Two-year-olds, teenagers, office workers, busy mums or 70-year-olds wearing the classic jeans, white shirt and a blazer can rock a pair of jeans. And I want to join the party, I’m always after a simple basic that I can pair with anything. 

I am desperate to be the girl in the outfit that you can wear to work, dinner, and for any kind of play. Effortless and cool, like an Olsen Twin, Hadid or an off duty influencer. 

Denim of course, infamously, is often the key to that look - everyone raves about a good pair of jeans for a reason right?

Even though I armed myself with plenty of incredible alternatives - think very good quality tights and bell bottoms - every time I saw a girl look cool in denim, I felt envious.

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I grew up idolising women in bands, and jeans were such a part of that uniform. Remember when Hayley Williams from Paramore, was just everything to everyone? I was craving my Hayley Williams fashion moment - minus the band tee. (The closest thing I have is a t-shirt with a drag queen on it).

I also have to blame social media for inspiring me to break my denim ban. Women of all sizes kept coming up on my feed looking so bloody good in denim. 

They had also clearly found a way to feel comfortable in jeans, and it was making me wish I could too. 

Suddenly giving up on denim felt less empowering and more restrictive. I felt like I needed to give denim a try again, but in a healthy way - not in a going back to your ex boyfriend who doesn’t read books kind of way.

So I decided to take the plunge. 

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The good thing now, is that there are so many more options for denim if you are plus-size or any size. Jeans no longer stop at a size 14, and plenty of brands specialise in the curvy figure. 

Honestly, I haven’t bought denim in over ten years, so I won’t pretend I’m an expert, but I reckon there actually is something for everyone now. 

I’ve heard brilliant things about Good American, Kmart’s jeans and Levi Curve. (By heard, I mean I texted all my mates and demanded to know where they bought their jeans.)

Still, I wanted to be thoughtful in my approach to embracing denim again and didn’t want to fall back into the same relationship. 

First things first - I knew I didn’t want to face the unflattering lighting in my local mall, so I found a shape I liked online at The Iconic and ordered 3 different sizes of the same pair of jeans. God bless credit cards and high-waisted jeans! (I am not ready to acknowledge low waisted jeans yet!)

Once they arrived, I popped on some music that makes me feel good - for me, that’s anything from Taylor Swift’s 1989 album or Harry Styles. Who can feel bad, listening to Watermelon Sugar? Then I tried on the jeans in my own space, with my own clothes, in some actual flattering lighting and I found a size that fit me. 

I also made an effort to NOT look at the size as I pulled them on, I simply judged by fit and feel. Of course, one size was instantly ruled out because I couldn’t get them over my thighs. (I won’t share the size because size is irrelevant, right?) 

The two sizes left both fit me, one tighter, one looser - for the first time my life I went with the more comfortable, looser fit.

Image: Supplied.

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I didn’t force myself to fit into a size of jeans; I found a pair of jeans that made me feel good, and that looked good on me. 

I also went for a lightweight denim with stretch - so I have room to move or gain a bit of weight. No restrictive classic denim for me please! 

I want denim I feel like I can complete life tasks in such as going to work, heading to the post office or falling asleep on the lounge after a big lunch.

I’ll be honest, it’s only been a week, but already owning a pair of jeans again has come in handy. 

They make me feel very trendy and cool and bring to life that phrase, ‘Jeans and a nice top.’ 

I also think it’s worth noting that there’s no special way to style jeans if you are plus-size - jeans work with t-shirts, baggy jumpers, tight tops, flowy tops, whatever! 

Treat jeans how your thin friends do - your body looks good in them too.

I realise that it might seem lame to admit this, but I’m all about honesty. 

If jeans dredge up stuff for you, then just don’t wear them. Because you shouldn’t wear anything that doesn’t make you feel good. And there are plenty of alternatives. 

But if you can find a way to have a healthy relationship with jeans, and you feel comfortable, then I promise they’ll look good on you!

Jeans really can be for everybody. At least that’s how I feel now. 

I’ll admit I am very late to this party but I’m thrilled. 

I’ve found a way to embrace jeans in a way that doesn’t make me feel bad about myself. I’ve bought denim again on my terms without buying into a fat phobic culture. 

Maybe part of embracing who we are is to stop excluding fashion that we might think has always excluded us. 

Fashion really can be universal. From swimsuits to mini skirts and now jeans, no matter your shape or size, enjoy strutting your own style, marching to your own best beat.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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