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In Defense of Mom Jeans

I grew up in the early ‘90s, I have a vivid memory, as a little girl, of looking at all the jeans that the older women wore and thinking, “Ugh, what’s with that pouchy area in the front? And why do their pants have elastic?” As I grew older, these pants became known to me as “Mom Jeans.”

The term “Mom Jeans” evokes an image of a certain kind of pant-style: elastic-banded, high-waisted, with that pouch in the front that sticks out (emphasized by a tucked-in shirt sometimes), and tapered legs that manage to be both too baggy and too tight. Sometimes Mom Jeans are acid-washed, but mostly they’re just that bland, generic blue jean color. (You’ve probably seen the SNL commercial too–which I still think is very funny.)

Until I was an adult, shopping for jeans was easy, because I was skinny (in spite of my habit of eating everything in sight). Low-rise jeans were no problem for me. However, once my metabolism started slowing down (and once I developed my hips), I had to switch from shopping in the Junior’s section to the Misses section. Naturally, I was horrified—this was the section with Mom Jeans! Full of tapered legs, which were much less cool than the mild bell bottoms that had gotten me through high school! But as with all things, over time I got used to the idea that I was no longer a “Junior,” plus some of the Misses styles were very similar to what I had been wearing, just a little bit higher-waisted to accommodate my grown-up hips (but still below my belly button, because no way no how was I going to wear Mom Jeans).

As I’ve grown a bit older, I’ve gained those slow pounds that never seem to go away without drastic changes in my diet. When I would go jean shopping even a couple of years ago, I would eye the Maternity section longingly, looking at the jeans with the elastic waist band that would fit over my belly and hips without making me feel like a sausage. And in fact, as soon as I got pregnant, I took a trip to the Gap and bought my first pair of pregnancy jeans. The color was a nice dark blue, and the legs were tapered, but it was exquisite not having to do the jean-dance every time I needed to put on my pants. (You know the one, where you slip on the bottom of your jeans and jump around while wiggling into the hips and sucking in for the zip-up.) I took to pregnancy jeans like a fish to water, and I wondered how I ever would transition back into non-pregnancy jeans. (The only flaw is that since the waist isn’t fitted, I was constantly pulling my pants up.)

It’s amazing how much your body can stretch when you’re pregnant. I actually thought I wouldn’t get stretch marks, until they started to show up in the middle of my third trimester. Towards the end, my belly resembled the Eye of Sauron and I avoided any mirror that showed me from the chest down. The only good thing about my pregnancy at the end was that I could still wear those pregnancy jeans (when I wasn’t wearing yoga pants).

tiny jeans pocket

I still don’t know what the tiny pocket is for. No matter, whatever I put in it gets forgotten anyway. (source)

Once I had my baby, I thought I would care about my belly, which was now floppy and resembled elephant’s skin. But the truth is, I was too exhausted to care about anything other than my baby. (I even forgot to eat for a while.) I wore my maternity pants as long as I could, until they started to get a hole in them, and then I had to go jean shopping again (an expedition that I no longer look forward to).

You can avoid looking in a mirror for as long as possible, except when you’re trying on jeans. I don’t know what it is about dressing rooms, but they always seem to have the worst lighting. (Although these days, anything brighter than candlelight can seem like the worst lighting to me.) So there I was, in a dressing room, with a three-way mirror that reflected my belly/ass-region about nine times, and I have to admit, it was a little bit of a shock seeing my post-partum body reflected in every way possible. I was lucky because I only had to visit one store, and I only had to try on a couple of pairs of jeans before I found one that fit. It didn’t have an elastic waist, but it was high-waisted, the legs were tapered (or “straight-leg” which is just a lesser form of tapering), and it had a “hidden panel” in the front, with some sort of engineering magic to make me “look one size smaller!” (although I really think that they just make the larger sizes baggier so you only think you’re one size smaller).

Yes, now I wear Mom Jeans.

To be honest, they’re comfortable. I definitely see why they’re popular with “moms” (or, to be honest, women who have saggy and/or large bellies). The only thing that I care about is that I have found a pair of jeans that fits and doesn’t make me feel like a sausage. (In case you’re interested, the brand is “Not Your Daughter’s Jeans,” although my mom wears them too, so I guess technically they are her daughter’s jeans.)

One of the good things about having a kid is that I am so exhausted that my caring-threshold has gone way down and now I only care about things like getting sleep, taking care of my baby, trying to tame the mess in the house, etc. I don’t care what my jeans look like, I don’t care if there’s a pouch in the front. You know what? Of course there’s a fucking pouch. I have a belly and I used my body to incubate a baby, and I’m damn proud of my saggy belly and my stretchmark scars. It makes me feel good that I can wear jeans that have a zipper and a button again.

I wear my Mom Jeans and I don’t give a fuck. A lot of engineering went into them, and they make me feel awesome.

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Mary

Mary

Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

2 Comments

  1. March 7, 2014 at 11:37 am —

    When I first read this post, I thought it was clever, and definitely hit home to me in a casual not-so-serious-feminist issue sort of way. I mean, they’re jeans–they just weren’t on my radar for things that mattered deeply.

    Then an article in the Military.com newsletter on how NOT to wear mom jeans (http://www.military.com/spouse/military-life/4-ominous-signs-of-the-mom-jeans-wearing-spouse.html) showed me that seemingly tangential articles about clothes can perpetuate attitudes minimizing women and their bodies.

    There was so much wrong with it. Here’s an example from the article: “it’s time to take back our closets. This will be easy if you have teenaged daughters. Ask them. They’re probably dying to tell you. If you don’t, just ask the baby sitter to get to your house a half hour early next time — so she can tell you what to wear.”

    This made me appreciate a “light” article that manages to tackle mom jeans without encouraging women to go back to teenager-hood, or by implying that wearing mom jeans makes you obsolete.

    • March 7, 2014 at 11:45 am —

      That is so sweet! Thank you! If I couldn’t wear my mom jeans, I would be so sad because my body is just not what jean manufacturers think it should be, so I appreciate your comment 🙂

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