Sunday, 1 October 2006

Guest Slapper of the Month IX

Sometimes, when I'm introducing a Guest, I have so many facets of their personality to choose from and present to you that I don’t know which ones to emphasize; this time I can say without hesitation that WinterWheat of Triticum Turgidum is above all a mother. Oh, and she’s very tall. I think that’s it. Isn’t it?

Slapsterhood of the (Downward) Traveling Pants

I’d like to slap whoever thought it would be a good idea at the turn of the millennium to revive the ‘60s hip-hugger look by stocking our department stores and online shops with ultra-lowrise jeans.

Back when unleaded gasoline was introduced, I remember being confused that consumers had to pay more for a product that contained less. Ditto for organic foods. The same principle applies to ultra-lowrise jeans. For the service of cutting away 4 extra inches of waistline (with high-tech, diamond-prism lasers, presumably), jeans manufacturers get to command $200+ per pair.

But it’s not the price that earns them a slap. It’s the designers’ decision to keep the rise ridiculously low regardless of the length. A 6-inch rise might make sense on the body of a 5-foot-tall woman who wears a 28-inch inseam. I, on the other hand, at 6 feet tall, wear a 36-inch inseam, so I’m attracted to jeans by lowrise manufacturers like Hudson, True Religion, and Notify because their pants fit my legs. But, well, er… okay, how do I put this? The rise is the length between the crotch seam and the top of the waistband, right? On a human body this represents a curved surface. Six inches curved barely clears the top of my pubes (sorry Bela). Now, I’ll be the first to admit that nothing says SEXY like an exposed butt crack or a peek of c-section scar, but not both at the same time. That’s blindingly sexy, and it’s rude to go about blinding people.

Due to their construction, ultra-lowrise jeans must be worn tourniquet-tight to keep them aloft. They sit at the widest part of the hips, so they have nowhere to go but down. Anyone with enough subcutaneous body fat to menstruate is bound to look like a “popped can of biscuits” and be accused of sporting a “muffin top” if she wears her jeans snugly enough to keep them up. To add insult to injury, she becomes a potential target for that woman, you know the one I’m talking about, who walks around scrutinizing other women’s bodies and snarkily murmuring things like, “She should NOT be wearing those jeans.”

Derrick Shepherd, a legislator in Louisiana, must have been channeling Snarky Woman when, in 2004, he attempted to drum up support for a bill (HB 1703) outlawing lowrise jeans on grounds of obscenity. People showing their “whale tails” (thong backs) would be forced to pay a $500 fine. According to Wikipedia, the Times-Picayune editorialized on May 8, 2004: “Some Louisiana lawmakers seem determined to make us the laughingstock of the nation. But even ideas that are dumb and comical can have dire consequences. A bill that would pull into the criminal justice system children and adults who wear their pants low is not only dumb -- it’s dangerous.” I would add: especially in a state that allows booze to be consumed in moving vehicles and women to walk around topless in exchange for beads. A slap to Derrick Shepherd! (No, I take that back. He lives in Louisiana. He’s been slapped enough.)

I have strong libertarian leanings and I think that people should be able to wear what they want, however uncomfortable, unflattering, offensive, or shocking it may be. I recently saw an adolescent boy riding his bike in a t-shirt that read “I F*CK LIKE A BEAST.” Huge red letters. I hate what he was wearing but I’ll defend his right to wear it. (Although I do pity his mother. Unless she’s the one who bought it for him.)

Anyway, back to the jeans: I’m happy to say that fashion-forward designers are attempting to revive higher rises, although I’ve seen some truly horrible pleated ones that push the boundaries of fuglitude. I don’t want my waistband grazing my ribs either, thanks. Whatever happened to the waist?

PS. I've just been told I'd be slapped myself if I didn't mention that WinterWheat is also an academic and a feminist and a perfumista – all in all, a ‘well-rounded’ human being. There! Happy now, WW? LOL!

PPS. I case you're wondering, I don't let myself be bullied by my guests (or anyone else for that matter). WW has railed (on her own blog) against women who define themselves purely through motherhood so I thought it might be fun to, you know...


  1. Too 'well-rounded' to wear lowrise jeans, anyway. ;-)

  2. As a woman who is just barely over 5 foot tall, I promise that a 6 inch rise STILL makes no sense. Instead of looking just normal and short, the ultra-low rise cuts cause most of us stature-challenged folks to look like squat little Hobbits. Excellent slap, K.

  3. I'm too well-rounded to wear any jeans whatsoever. Even when I was aged 18, 130lb and 5ft 7" they didn't work on me - my hips were too wide or something. And I found them too stiff and too hot. I must be the only woman in the world never, ever once in her whole life to have owned a pair. I live in black crepe palazzo pants. Also go with everything, like jeans.

    I definitely agree that many male fashion designers are woman-hating.

  4. Very well written K. I am a shorty, so the jeans fit my rumpus, but I ALWAYS have to get them hemmed.

    (scratches head) I thought Derrick Shepherd was Dr. McDreamy from Grays Anatomy.

    Clearly for knowing more about TV than government, I need to be slapped.

  5. I think the waist is there for a purpose and that's to hold skirts and trousers up. I can't wait for lowrise anything to go out of fashion as it should normally do just about now. And it won't be too soon either.

  6. K - Okay, then, NOBODY wins! What were they thinking by designing these?

    L - Most of my jeans now have some spandex. I think all clothing should contain some spandex (not lots, just a touch). And Coolmax. LOVE Coolmax.

    P (J) - Is that actually the character's name? ROFL!

    B (J) - You know, the only real benefit of having a nice wide set of hips is that you can rely on them to hold your pants up, but that's assuming your pants actually come up above the hips. I too am eagerly awaiting the return of reasonable waistlines.

  7. "Anyone with enough subcutaneous body fat to menstruate..."

    i love it!

    excellent target for a good slap - down with low-rise jeans!


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