I bought white pants for the first time in my life.
The last time I could safely wear white pants, I was 10 years old, and wasn’t in a position to buy my own clothes.
Now, forty years of periods later, I am finished with the threat of ruining a pair of pants with surprise bleeding, so I treated myself to a (second-hand) pair of white pants.
I haven’t been this excited about outfit possibilities in a while! I can pair them with a long denim shirt for a resort look, or with a red shirt for a resort look, or with a white shirt for a resort look.
I might even put a flannel shirt or sweater on top for a winter resort look.
What’s been missing from my wardrobe has clearly been the resort look.
I did wear white pants with my softball uniform, an outfit I dreaded putting on for fear it coincide with my period. I have never understood the tradition of white pants with kids’ baseball/softball uniforms; what a laundry nightmare. There is no way to keep those clean, periods or no. But the tragedy of bleeding on white polyester uniform pants struck many girls, one who needed to borrow my pants during a game because hers were ruined. That was the day of the JV team picture; I am the one wearing shorts.
There’s no way to explain to a man the giddiness of being free to wear white pants. They’re not exactly flattering on a figure like mine–the eye is drawn to the lightest part of the outfit, and when you’re built like hearty peasant stock, the thighs are not the area to which you relish eyes being drawn. Body positivity is changing that metric, and I’m happy about that.
And perhaps that’s part of it; body positivity is releasing a whole generation of women from the constraints of wardrobe choices based on the male gaze. Long, lean legs and a tiny rear end are part of the formula for luring a man. My three brothers were disgustingly clear about which bodies were acceptable, and they were explicit that mine was not. Through their crass language, I learned to hate my thunder thighs, the body that would never attract a man, a body no one would ever want to touch.
Most fashionable clothes were out of reach for me, and I was certainly not going to make myself more of a target in white pants.
Over the past five years, I’ve come to love my body for its strength, for its endurance and surprising health, and for the shape that has resulted from a life lived heartily and with great curiosity and excitement. This body belongs to me and my life in every decision I’ve made.
Part of me will always be that eleven year old girl in middle school leaving a stain on her seat in English class because she wasn’t yet attuned to her body’s cycle. The shame of that streak on the seat, the red-brown stain creeping toward the back of the pants, sometimes toward the front, barely covered by a sweater tied around my waist, lives in me still. I can still touch it, if I reach back in my memory.
But now, at the end of my glorious days of The Change, that fear is over. I can finally dress like I’m headed to a resort, like it will be summer forever, like I can skip through a grassy field like women in those lying tampon commercials, unstained by fear.
The only thing I have to worry about now is marring my beautiful, clean white pants with my permanent liquid of choice; coffee.