It’s perhaps ironic that I’m writing this from inside a pair of my most body-shaming vintage Levi’s while eating a cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie from Milkbar, because these three acts — sitting, wearing, eating — are at poetic odds with each other. The crop-circle-like demarcations on my stomach are all the proof I need.
These jeans are the equivalent of an overzealous cheer captain circling all my “problem areas” with a red marker. Wearing them is kind of like wearing a bully. And I’m doing it voluntarily!!!! Someone stop me. Please. I think I need to establish a grassroots campaign in my own bedroom to end the non-threatening abuse I continually invite into my life simply because these jeans look kinda cool with my high-top Converse.
It didn’t take me long to get here. I got my first pair of vintage Levi’s in March, around two months after Leandra got rid of hers because she was over them, which sounds about right. I slipped them on when I got home, eager to jump on a trend past its prime, and my first thought upon assessing my reflection was, oh god, these are terrible. Curiously, a snip off the bottom and a single night’s sleep transformed them into my favorite jeans in the whole wide world. That’s just how vintage Levi’s work, I’m pretty sure. But don’t be fooled, that’s the honeymoon phase.
The founding tenet of 20-something-year-old Levi’s is the dedication with which they maintain their shape. And I mean dedication. The waistbands are high, snug and, fun fact, held together with actual cement. I think I could eat the entirety of the last supper (that’s a throwback reference am I right ladiessszzzz) and the waistband of these bad boys wouldn’t budge. My stomach would sooner explode. I’m dead fucking serious.
A separate but tangential point is that a cowboy crotch is just as physical as it is aesthetic. Violently so. Because denim that tucks up your crotch with such fervor while you’re standing is going to essentially disappear into your skin while you’re sitting. That’s physics! Listen. A camel toe is cute on a camel, funny in yoga pants, straight-up murderous rendered in vintage denim. That’s not a freaking joke and the only upside is that chafing is a form of exfoliation.
(Just kidding it’s totally not.) (It prob causes ingrowns.)
Here’s something we discussed in our last Levi’s anonymous chat circle: a seam right up the butt that is ever-so-slightly shorter than your body’s actual biological seam (I’m sorry! I hate this too!) makes for a harness-like wearing experience. But you don’t get to zip line across a jungle so much as ponder your own mortality, which I suppose is thrilling in its own right.
The foundational problem here is the lack of corporal freedom afforded by old school denim. Every pair is a mixed bag of tricks. They might hug you in the wrong places, create an extra butt where one did not exist before (no one asked for that!!!), or act as an immediate punitive measure for weight gain, big meals or breathing.
On the upside, they’re super cute. In an unflattering kind of way, ya’ know? Somehow, it still feels kinda worth it.
ICYMI, Leandra is also sick of jeans.
Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.