Buy the Red Pants

I was browsing the clearance section at my local Kohl’s a few years ago. My fingers flipped nimbly by the smalls, mediums and larges, only pausing when I got to the hangers marked XL.*

On another rack I quickly moved past the cute single digits and plunged well into the double digits. Almost out of the teens, but not quite.

And buried there among the elastic-waisted, polyester pants that make up plus-size purgatory, I found a pair of red pants. Apple red. Skinny legged. I looked at the tag. They were my size—18.

But. Fat girls don’t wear red pants.

Do they?

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons

Red pants scream “look at me!” And I had spent my entire life hiding me. Wearing flowy tops that concealed my stomach. Wide-legged jeans that hid my thighs. I had 30 cardigans, because cardigans covered a multitude of sins.

My wardrobe was the color of a rainy day in the city—browns and blacks and grays.

But those red pants. I couldn’t put them down. I walked around the store with them for 20 minutes, shaking my head at the absurdity of it.

Yet, I bought them. I took them home and wedged them in my closet. For weeks I would pull them out, try them on, but I couldn’t bring myself to walk out of the door with them.

Until I did.

I don’t want to overstate the significance of those red pants. But I think they were an important milestone on the journey. I bought them before I had lost a single pound. I bought them when I was at the heaviest I had been.

I bought them in a size that made me uncomfortable and sad.

But I think, in part, I bought them because I knew something needed to change.

And maybe I finally believed I had the strength to change it.

 

If you get nothing else from this post, get this. Buy the red pants.

Or the leopard print skirt. Or the cute heels or the giant belt buckle or the awesome tie. Buy the thing that won’t let you hide. The thing that makes you feel crazy and sexy and strong.

Buy the thing you love, and love yourself while you wear it.

Wearing the things you hate will never prompt you to take care of yourself.

Hiding will not help you embrace yourself.

 

Today, I wore a different pair of red pants. The size was smaller. And maybe I wore them with more confidence. But they reminded me of that old pair that I took to a consignment store a few months ago. I hope that someone stumbles upon them and pauses. I hope they will stop saying “I’ll wear red pants when I’m skinny.”

I hope they buy the red pants.

*An acronym, by the way, that has never made sense to me. Why an “X”? The word “extra” starts with an “E” for goodness’ sake. The X always felt like a banishment of sorts. But I digress.

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16 thoughts on “Buy the Red Pants

  1. Melissa McKibbin says:

    Brandy, I love this post! I go back and forth between “hide me” & comfortable in my own skin, but this spoke to me today. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Heather Keeton says:

    Wow! Brandy! So proud of your accomplishments! What a journey! You are an inspiration to so many and I did notice your red pants at the party the other day! You were rockin’ those pants! Great job!

  3. Beth Landau says:

    Inspiring, as usual. How emblematic those red pants were. I recently told my daughter: Don’t talk yourself out of doing things because you don’t think you’re (insert adjective) enough. “I can’t do that because I’m too (insert adjective),” is a personal limitation, not a real one. This post says it so much better. Thank you.

  4. Molly says:

    You are an inspiration, girl. I wish we could scream this from mountain tops for young girls to hear of all shapes and sizes. Awesome blog! ❤

  5. Amber says:

    I recently signed up for Stitch Fix, a site that “styles” a box of five items of clothing for you that you get to pick through and decide what you like. In doing so, I created a style board on Pinterest so the stylist could see the types of things I like. It was hard! I tend to love bright clothes, loud patterns and styles that are a little different. So I created a wild and crazy board of what I love, but then I started feeling very doubtful, thinking, “I can’t pull any of that off – I’d look like a fool!” I almost started from scratch to create a board with all drab colors and conservative styles. But I held myself back. You are right – you should wear what you love! I look forward, in a couple of decades, to being that crazy old lady who wears ridiculously bejeweled hats and shirts with feathers on them. Thank you for your encouragement in becoming that crazy old lady.

    • Brandy says:

      I love StitchFix! I should blog about it! It has really helped me to break out of my shell a bit! But I totally get the whole “I can’t pull this off” mentality. I’ve said those words so many times! Thanks for commenting and sharing, Amber!

  6. Suzanne says:

    Brandy, I have loved all your posts, but your journey toward health and wholeness along with a bunch of your cousins has inspired me to do better too.

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