March 1, 2021
Who wears the pants?
When Z and I were first establishing ourselves as more than friends, I pondered with one of my group chats whether our differing political opinions about pants would get in the way of our relationship. Here’s the thing, Z hates pants. No, Z doesn’t hate pants, it’s more that he doesn’t find pants compatible with his lifestyle.
Which is fair. There are a multitude of problems that come along with pants for Z, but the main one is that pants wrinkle, and a very delicate ass sitting on wrinkles all day is a recipe for discomfort.
Z once tweeted, “Hot take: Pants are ableist.” I’ll admit, it took me a while to not find this hot take a little too hot. As I said, Z and I began our relationship with very different positions on pants, but after living together for two months now (wow, how time flies) I have to tell you that I think he’s right. Pants are ableist. I realize now that my dedication to pants and my previous belief that they should remain an integral part of Z’s outfits was my subconscious ableism showing through.
I don’t think it helped that I had spent so many years thinking about fashion as a means of self-expression. After all, I have a BA in theatre costume design and worked as a costume designer for a while after college. I was always fascinated by the idea that people chose their clothing to tell the world who they were, and that one could understand a person to an extent through the way they dressed. I had grown up thinking about my own wardrobe as an ongoing study in self-curation. Something that didn’t often figure into these musings was comfort. I didn’t think about the ways that a person’s specific comfort needs could force them to alter how they dress. Ironically, when I was younger I had a major issue with the how socks felt, to the point where I refused to wear them and instead wore tights every day, affecting, against my will, my own aesthetic choices. But for about 15 years I haven’t had to worry about comfort when dressing. I let myself forget what it felt like to be made so uncomfortable by an article of clothing that it forced me to change the how I dressed.
And that is a privilege that I have as a healthy, able-bodied person.
When I think back to how I felt the first time Z told me about his issue with pants and his avoidance of them, I’m so angry at my past self. I remember feeling judgmental that he was choosing his comfort over fitting into people’s (me being one of those people) expectations for what productive members of society need to wear. I remember too, the first time that we were going to meet, asking him to please wear pants. “Just pretend it’s a job interview,” I said. Why can’t he do it, I thought? Why can’t he just make himself more palatable for me? Be uncomfortable so that I don’t have to be.
But here’s the deal, everybody’s naked underneath their clothing. A couple of weeks ago, Z and I were seeing one of my friends from college and her partner. Z wanted to wear pants. I asked if he was sure, wouldn’t he be uncomfortable? He responded that he wanted to feel “like a real person.” As if covering up with fabric that doesn’t have five seams, two legs, and a waistband can take away your personhood. But he wanted to feel comfortable seeing my friends. Welcome to the world, where every day Z chooses which type of comfort he gets to enjoy, physical or social. He can never have both. My early disapproval I’m sure didn’t help.
So, maybe it’s too late, but I’ve changed my tune on pants. Hot take: wear what makes you comfortable, physically, aesthetically, or both. Z looks good in everything… or nothing. Who wears the pants? I do, but only because I want to.