Oh, my beautiful girls.
This week, I bought Sadie a pair of new jeans.
I rarely buy new clothes for the girls. My 13-year-old sister (who never spills anything on anything) passes all of her clothes down to Sadie (who spills everything on everything), and then Rosie gets the dregs. Rosie is okay with it, as long as she has socks she likes. I buy her new socks.
My sister is narrow and willow-y like her father, and so as time goes by, I filter out the jeans and send them to goodwill for children of that tall and willow-y body type. And so, last week, when Sadie pointed out another pair of stretchy cotton pants that were all of the sudden 4 inches too short, I agreed to go in search of some new pants.

I picked up the girls at school and we headed to the outlets. Small planned city with manicured bushes. Really big strollers. Christmas music piping over the sidewalks. Cinnabon.

We were cheery. And with one girl’s hand in each of my own, we crossed the street to start our adventure at the Gap. The girls laughed at the early Christmas music, and I thought to myself, this will be easy. In and out. Comfortable and inexpensive pants in hand.

Store 1: Into the dressing room with a pile of every fit and several sizes. And also lots and lots of these things called jeggings. Jean leggings. Jeggings. Rosie explained it to me. And then, one at a time, Sadie tries on each pair. She falls over trying to get the things off. She pulls them up. She struggles with the buttons. She runs around the dressing room and does the mandatory “squat in your jeans” test.

She shakes her head and hands them all back to me, one at a time.
“Mom,” she says. “I can’t do the skinny jeans. I don’t get them, and I can’t get them on.”
It’s either skinny or slim fit. And neither fits. I size up, and then they’re huge. She starts to look discouraged.

Jeans are hard! I say. Maybe you’re just not a Gap jeans kind of girl. Most people have to try on a million pairs before dining the right one.

Store 2: Again with the skinny jeans! Only these have silly zippers on them, too. They’re out of almost every size, and so we try on more jeggings. Sadie shakes her head again. The staples-on paper label on the back pops off, and she bursts into hysterics.
“My butt is too big for these pants! I popped the label off!” Rosie falls on the static-y carpeted floor laughing. Coldplay is playing Christmas music in the dressing room.

Store 3: There are lots of styles and sizes and I am hopeful. There is, however, no dressing room. I ask the woman at the counter where we can try things on, and she says, “try on? why?” We try to go into the back store room, but there are a bunch of guys in baggy pants in there. I grab the nearest skirt, a tulle tutu, and hand it to Sadie. She puts on the tutu, takes off her pants, tries on the jeans. Rosie is again on the floor laughing. Sadie shakes her head. 

Store 4: It is dark, and we are hungry. Sadie is asking why there is Christmas music, and why all the jeans are skinny. I am telling her that some people don’t even like wearing jeans at all! That we will find the right ones some day. That all these stores are lame and we don’t want their jeans anyway.

I don’t want her to hate shopping. I don’t want her to hate jeans shopping, or swimsuit shopping, or situations when she has to be under bad lighting in front of a full-length mirror. I just need a pair of decent pants for my beautiful beautiful girl.

In the darkness, the inside of the another store calls to us. “GIRLS DENIM!” I repeat the words, and pull the girls into the store. There is a wall of jeans.  None of them are skinny. They are “bootcut” and “straight” and there are jeans in every size. My arms are filled with little jeans, and we head to the large and empty dressing room.

The first pair fits. Perfectly. She slips on her sneakers and runs the full parameter of the store.
“These are my jeans.”

I exhale.


  1. E Louise Bates says

    So glad you found the perfect pair in the end. My two still fit into toddler jeans, and I am not looking forward to the day when we have to move into girl's sizes. Little girls should not be made to feel terrible about themselves because they can't fit into jeggings. Jeggings, of all things!

  2. meeshel says

    I dread jean shopping for myself, this story is too familiar for all of us no matter what age we are.

    But p.s., I have a girl that would love your sister's hand me down jeans if you are looking to get rid of them. (Please?)

  3. morgan says

    All of my jeans were "husky"… No long term emotional trauma there.
    Also, speaking of cinnabon, there is a comic who does a bit about how there is nothing more depraved than eating cinnabon in an
    airport after you have arrived at your destination.
    Food for thought.

  4. goldfarb says

    I don't think I wore a pair of pants to school for all of elementary school. They were just way less fun. Shorts for soccer – maybe. Possibly once in fifth grade on a day we were doing something especially outside-in-a-stream. I wish I could get back to choosing clothes for fun and not for a minimum of talking about what I'm wearing.

  5. alanachernila says

    Ha! Yes- michele- I'll make sure the skinny jeans go to you.

    And yes, Lee! Osh Kosh was the winning store in the end…

  6. Liz K. says

    Ugh, I remember this so well from when I was little. This and swimsuit shopping. Always difficult on the ego. So glad you found a perfect pair. That can quickly erase all the bad feelings!

  7. Tricia says

    Boo to skinny jeans! Yay for “These are my jeans!”

    My kids also get handmedowns from willowy friends and relatives. And we are not willowy folks. I’ve learned to take anything with a waistband out of the box before even handing it to my daughter. Why should new clothes bring tears?

  8. Ali says

    What a trial! Must say finding the perfect pair of jeans is a headache for any size; I go with bootleg every time. :)

  9. says

    I’m dying to know which store you went to!! My friend and I are having the same problem with our daughters. They are only 6 1/2yrs old and have size 10 underwear because how round their rumps are. The jeans are impossible to find because some pairs still fall off with the adjustable waist but have room in the rump. The smaller pairs are on so tight and don’t fit their waist even though their waists are thin. Please tell us what store it was so we can try them. :) Thanks.

  10. says

    My little multi-racial chica is of an average weight, but she is curvy, because she “keeps all her Mexican heritage in her bottom” as her big brother likes to say. Skinny jeans will NEVER fit her.

    Solution? The boys department at Old Navy. They are better proportioned for Latina booties. (I’m not sure what I’ll do when she outgrows the boys’ sizes, though.)

  11. Katie says

    I just read this post, and it had me smiling. I also have two little girls, and they hate jeans. They are only 5 and 3, but they will cry if I pull out a pair of jeans for them to wear. We live in farm country too, so jeans are kind of a staple around here, but not for my girls. They would much rather wear leggings, skirts or dresses, they tell me that you can’t move in jeans. My younger daughter says she feels like she’s in time-out when she wears jeans :)

  12. Audrey says

    I was a skinny child, and Mom sewed elastic into the waistband of almost all my pants and jeans. No such thing as an adjustable waist. My children were (and are) skinny. Elastic waist, slim fit & adjustable waist saved me with my son. Until the last year or so. Now he has ridiculously long legs and a tiny waist. We usually end up ordering his jeans online. We went to the nearest mall (almost an hour away) and went in every store that had men’s jeans, but to no avail. We also have to special order any dress clothes he needs. Can you say expensive? Anyway, so happy when we find something that works, so your post hit home with me. :)

    • alana says

      Thank you Audrey– I think it’s so important in these conversations to talk about all shapes! It can be easy for someone who might be a bit rounder to look at someone who is rail thin and think “If I looked like that, clothes would fit perfectly (I’d feel great about myself, life would be awesome, etc…) But in the end, we’re all just different shapes, each with their own wonderfulness and challenges. Thanks for the reminder.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>