Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dirty Little Secrets: Sears Husky Jeans

Whenever I recall the particular fact of my existence that I am about to disclose, I reexperience the intense shame I felt the first time I realized it existed. The moment, which occurred in two feet of snow at a bus stop in Derry, New Hampshire when I was in the 6th grade, is so vivid, I can feel my cheeks burn the way they did that day. I have to trust the process at this point, but I have to admit I felt woozy even looking for an image to use for this piece.

The simple truth is that I wore Sears brand Husky jeans for boys from the time I was about seven all the way through sixth grade. For those of you that don't know, Husky jeans are what little fat boys wore. While everyone else was wearing Levi's, Lee Jeans, and even old-school Gap jeans, I was religiously sporting Huskys. My distinct recollection is that I was not at all aware that these jeans were, in fact, target marketed for young men of my proportions. It took some skinny-ass, future teen bride to point out that I was wearing jeans for "fatties." I can still see her standing there -- straight stringy hair, pink parka, hugging a green notebook, wearing mascara and smelling like fruity lip gloss; her name was either "Stacey" or "Tracey." Today, I would describe her as a "skank," but I'm fairly sure I didn't know that word then.

For some reason, she felt the need to point out in front of the everyone (okay, there were 4 of us, including her, me and my brother) that I was wearing the jeans that her brother had to wear because he was fat, just like me. What kills me is that there was absolutely nothing I could say to that. Nothing. Almost 30 years later, as I write this, I'm still dumbstruck. I still can't think of an adequate retort. Well that's not entirely accurate; I would probably say something along the lines "Well, one day I'll be a smoking hot gay lawyer living in NYC and you'll be trying to figure out if your sixth kid is your husband's, the mechanic's or your cousin's." But I didn't have the verbal wherewithall at the time that I command today.

Honestly though, there is precious little in this world that prepares one for the rough times that we all eventually face in this life like growing up fat -- especially in America, especially today. Back then, it was certainly less common than it is today. And (at the time) I could never figure out exactly why I was fat. No one around me was -- no one. I realize now it likely had a bit to do with the fact that I was particularly "sensitive" (their word) and smart as a whip. I started doing the math earlier than most and could see the trouble up ahead. I was a worried child and nothing calmed my nerves like food, lots of food. And sugar. And chocolate. And cake; I really liked cake. And fudge.

I gotta tell you, this secret-revealing stuff works. I feel great.


Queer on Paper said...

Dude we should start a Husky jeans group for reals.

Cali said...

Hi Honey! I'm just catching up on some archives.

For me (since I'm a girl) it was the dreaded "plus sizes" around the corner, in it's own little nook at Sears. Of course you had to pass right through the cuter, smaller clothes.

Once you looked at the cute, little clothes you could get somewhat similar things, but not as cute, in bigger sizes. There were about six dresses, a couple of styles of pants, skirts and blouses and a couple of styles of sweaters and coats. That was pretty much it, oh and industrial strength training bras and the granny panties with the days of the week embroidered over the left hip bone. Everything was available in two or three colors and once we found whatever fit me I got that outfit in both colors.

In all fairness to my mother, she did the best she could with the wedge-shaped girl I was. Broad shoulders, barrel chest, narrow hips and a high waist; dressing me was a nightmare.