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The devil is in the decals


The hunt for flattering gymwear is never-ending, and I know you know what I’m talking about.

Few women look good in those capri-length workout bottoms that are everywhere–they make a woman look like a peg leg pirate with stubby, wide thighs–and you have to be Gwen Stefani with her rock-hard abs to pull off track pants rolled down at the waist. No one, male or female, has ever looked good in elastic-waist sweats (think overstuffed sock puppet) and those of us who have had children generally cannot pull off the low-riding Juicy Couture-style terry bottoms without an excess of abdomen splooging over the top and sides. Don’t even get me started on the roll-waist yoga pants. Let’s just say they’re only look good on women without actual rolls at their waist.

Mind you, this is not the fault of our bodies. Our bodies are fine. It is due to lack of imagination or quite possibly sadism on the part of the designers of workout wear, who simply refuse to come up with workout bottoms that keep things smooth and tucked in, so you can go exercise without feeling like a lumbering buffalo on a treadmill.

Still, hope springs eternal, and the other day, it appeared that my faith and patience would be rewarded. I was in Filene’s Basement and rummaging through the racks. Suddenly, I spotted what appeared to be the perfect pair of black workout bottoms. My heart started to pound, not unlike when I spotted the man who is now my husband across the room at a friend’s wedding. I pulled the hanger off the rack to examine them. Simple, straight cut, highish waist to contain the wayward midriff, moisture wicking material….could these be the one? Finally, after all this time, just when I’d given up hope? Maybe, just maybe, I thought, tamping down any cynical instincts that bubbled up through my optimism. I’m going to try them on.

Quickly, as if they might evaporate in my arms, I ran to the dressing room, and tore off my clothes. Sliding my feet into the pants and then standing to hop them up over my butt, I had reason for optimism. The pants went over the sometime obstacle of my rear end without too much struggle, and hit me right at the waist, so there was no overhang. They were long enough so as not to flare out unflatteringly above my anklebone, and tight only where they should be. There were no rhinestones or sequins that would clog up my dryer’s lint filter, and the price was right. SOLD, I thought, and was already planning on swinging by the rack where I’d found them to see if there were any more in my size, so I could stock up. I slid them off and folded them, and prepared to put my own clothes back on.

And that’s when I saw it: The word CUTIE, in big turquoise felt block capital letters across the heinie. NOOOOOOOO!! I shouted in my mind. If I were in a sitcom (which at that moment I felt as if I was) the word would have had that drawn-out slow-mo distorted sound, as if I was being engulfed in abject horror  (which it was!) How had I missed that? Why would anyone sew the word CUTIE on someone’s ass, even if the ass in question might be cute, which, let’s be honest, mine is not, and really never was?!? I’m not putting my ass down–it’s fine, but no one would ever sew the word FINE on the back of a pair of sweatpants, and if they did, I wouldn’t buy them. Would you? Besides, if one has a cute ass, one doesn’t need the word CUTIE on it to call attention to its cuteness, and if one doesn’t, any writing whatsoever on the butt calls attention to what is probably better left unremarked upon.

I was so annoyed I didn’t even put the sweatpants back on the hanger, and left without even the socks I’d gone to Filene’s for in the first place. I think I’m going to start working out in a skirt, like the orthodox Jewish women in my building do. They do it for the sake of modesty. I’ll be doing it as a protest.

Photo by Pescatello CC

3 Responses to “The devil is in the decals”

  1. Amy says:

    What is with the whole butt-as-billboard thing? Whenever I see it on some young folk in my neighborhood (and, yes, they’re always young. Who else can pull that off?), I want to give them a firm talking to about women’s rights and the struggle to get where we are…. and then I realize it’s just another example of me being formerly.

    As for the gym, I’m gonna be sweating and gasping and possibly flopping like a fish. No nice pair of work out pants is gonna help with that.

  2. Alyssa says:

    I’ve been somewhat inspired to embroider whole sonnets or passages from the bible or koran on my butt, just to emphasize its awesomeness.

    Fer realz–Old Navy has a pretty decent pair of yoga pants (non-roll down waist) which conceal and contain the sins and delights of a life well lived while still offering comfort and mobility. And no billboard butt.

  3. Aimee says:

    I will echo the Old Navy yoga pant – I have six pairs, including two that have POCKETS, yay! Great not only for yoga but for my bike commutes as well with my arse fully covered. Now, can we find JEANS that don’t give us muffin top and/or butt cleavage whenever we take a step or lean over to pick something up? (and ones that do not cost $200) :)