Fitting Into Your Genes
This is a guest post by Vinnie Penn, whose show, The Vinnie Penn Project, airs on Connecticut radio station 960/WELI. He’s wondering why his daughter didn’t inherit her mom’s love of jeans. The pickings are slim for young girls, thanks to department stores bedazzling low cut designs meant for older women.
My wife seems to think that a strong love of blue jeans should be hereditary. Her constant back and forth with our daughter over wearing jeans — she is insistent, while our daughter is resistant — tops even remote control exchanges in our house. And that’s saying something: who holds the remote is quite the power struggle ’round here.
Last year a relative gave our daughter Stella a pair of jeans for Christmas. She found them incredibly uncomfortable, adding that her “butt crack was showing.” My wife promptly stated that they would return them to the store and pick something out she’d be more comfortable in. When that something wound up being a flowing dress, her mom got incredulous (for the umpteenth time). “How can you not like jeans?” she pressed. “I just don’t,” came the reply.
While I share my wife’s surprise, to a degree, I have to admit that I applaud Stella’s standing her ground, both developing her own style and fashion sense, and repeatedly stressing that she thinks her classmates should be embarrassed that their butt-cracks are showing every time they bend over. I, too, love a good pair of jeans, and at certain points in my life have had a pair in my dresser for over 10 years at a clip. Just last year, in fact, I laid to rest a pair that truly only got softer, more comfortable, more worn and ripped in all the right places, more perfect with each washing until they literally fell apart, that it was fairly close to a pet dying. That right there is the beauty of the blue jean.
What is truly interesting is what I learned during all this. Finding a pair of jeans for a 10-year-old that isn’t styled the exact same way that they are for a 16-year-old or even a 26-year-old is indeed trickier than it was years ago. To find that basic pair — the time-honored, no frills blue jean, clearly involves a retail outlet whose commercials aren’t accompanied by a pop star’s hit song, if there’s a commercial at all. The stores are out there, and the jeans, and there is where my daughter’s first pair no doubt is. And without her I’d have never known this was going on — jeans being cut the same way for a 10-year-old that they are for a grown woman. She bent over in them that January afternoon for “proof of butt-crack” and I stared in both disbelief and dismay. Why are designers “thinking thong” when putting out a line of jeans for pre-’tweens? It’s crazy.
The commercials my kids are being bombarded with after singing along with the theme song to their fave Disney sitcom, these low-cut, glitter-adorned, sometimes bejeweled “look at me” pants started getting my attention. And holding it. Then, in the window of a shop in the mall I spotted leisure-wear my daughter’s age/size with words like “angel” and “rock star” emblazoned on the backside. Who OK’d this? Were charges ever pressed? How and when did it become acceptable to produce pants and/or jeans with words drawing one’s attention to a 8-10-year-old’s backside? I bordered on livid, but my daughter’s lack of interest staved off my anger. In retrospect I can see that it’s probably not jeans that ultimately bother her, but the flash. Yes, comfort is her number one priority, and she has said so many times, which is why these “flash-first” jeans stand no chance (and standing is all a little girl can even do in them!). Good, old-fashioned, worn blue jeans, that’s the trick. In fact, this is where it all tied together. You see, my wife and I love jeans the way they were when we were our daughter’s age, and that we still actively seek out. They are as I mentioned: worn, comfortable, even frayed. The key word is the middle one: Comfortable. Why would a little girl find today’s jeans comfortable?We are of the generation when jeans were considered dressing down, “chilling” as it were. When my wife and I were 10 there was no such thing as “dress jeans.” But they exist today, as do rock star ones, ones with the holes manufactured, as opposed to earned, and so on. We’d have never lasted in today’s inflexible, self-destructing jeans, either. We — and perhaps you — need to actively seek your daughter’s comfy jeans out. My wife keeps asking how my daughter can’t love jeans and Stella can’t understand her not understanding that they are uncomfortable. How could she? They were the comfort option when we were kids!
Meanwhile, not long after all this started, my wife was delighted to discover this summer that Stella’s jeans ban doesn’t extended to denim shorts. “No butt-crack,” I heard her telling her mom. “And no wedgie, either.” That’s when I entered the room and saw that the very jeans we had returned some six months ago were still in the house. A few sizes bigger and on my wife.
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