Back in January I began a lifestyle change that has seen me drop some serious weight. While the main objective was to get healthier, a byproduct of dropping 70lbs has been the ability to expand my wardrobe and fit back into pieces of clothing I haven’t seen in some time. During one of the rummages in my closet I found a pair of pants with a brown plaid design that reminded me of something I’d picture Daniel Day Lewis’ character Bill the Butcher wearing in Gangs of New York. While “skinny” jeans/pants might not be for everyone, these fit me perfectly. I slapped on a pair of suspenders and was giving myself a once over in the mirror when my hands slid down to the front pockets.
My hands kept sliding because there were no pockets. These were my wife’s pants.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve wore a pair of my wife pants. She had a pair of black skinny jeans I use to “borrow” along with a burgundy pair, which sadly, I can’t find anymore. While being super comfortable, there was something about them I always thought odd. The pockets. Or perhaps I should say, the lack thereof.
This isn’t new news to most women. For years I’ve heard women make mention of their appreciation for pants, dresses, and skirts where designers gave attention to adequate pocket size and depth. Wearing pants designed for women, I can see their frustration. Modern cell phones stick halfway out back pockets and the minimal front pockets do well to fit a peppermint or tube of chap-stick. Why is this? According to journalist and freelance writer Melanie Radzicki McManus,
Centuries ago, all clothing was created sans pockets. Men and women carried their belongings in small pouches tied around the waist. Then, some 400 years ago, pockets were sewn into men's clothing, but this same feature was omitted from female garments. In the early 1800s, slimmer silhouettes came into style, so women no longer could wear pockets under clothes but had to wear them over clothes — and their pockets got much smaller. Some say it was a way to keep women powerless. If they had no way to secretly carry items around, it would be harder for them to travel independently or conduct clandestine affairs.
While the 20th century saw steps to address this issue, most designers still disregard or choose not to take the issue seriously. In a time where gender equality is often claimed, me wearing my wife’s pants reminds me that it’s not.
There are several ways to approach this issue, and here is the one I’m personally finding most helpful; I want to bring attention to this problem, but also make it a point to not conform to preconceived gender normative concepts concerning clothing.
My wife and I are doing this with our daughter as well, when we go in Carters’, or any other store selling baby clothes, we don’t let the “girl and boy”sections determine what we buy for our daughter.
As a faith leader I try and strive for opportunities to expose people to different ideas which often require some decentering/deconstructing of long held beliefs. Issues surrounding gender equality are part of, I believe, the “kingdom of God” work I keep trying to live out.
And I plan to do some of that living wearing my wife’s pocket-less pants.
As you were,