Thursday, August 09, 2007

Blowing Up Like a Balloon

I came to Germany with three pair of jeans, every one of them already getting rather old. One was a black pair that I had never liked - in the store and through the first couple of wearings, I thought they were dark blue. One was a pair I bought back in 2004 when I had counted calories and dropped a size. The last was a pair I bought a few months before I got married, faded 10 shades by now and starting to disintegrate.

Since moving here, I've spent more time in jeans than I have since college, now that I can wear them to work and I live in a frumpier town than Boston. So, the wear has been greater. Then comes the other little problem.

Expatriate weight gain. Is it just me? Maybe it's just a slowing of the metabolism instead. Whatever it is, I've suddenly blown up like a balloon. Perhaps I've been in permanent it's-vacation-and-you-should-eat-what-you-want mode since landing in Germany. I know I've been walking at least as much if not more than I did in Boston. I haven't been playing DDR anymore, though, because it turns out the second dance pad was also broken in shipping (in addition to the first one, which we threw out long ago). So maybe I get a little less exercise than I used to.

So, the jeans I got when I was at that calorie-counting point are painful to wear. The disintegrating ones are getting worrisome. And forget the black ones (not to mention, they're uncomfortably tight too). Time to get a new pair of jeans. So I went to the local department store, after finding out H&M jeans are 40 EUR anyway and figuring I could get something better for only slightly more.

First note: The German friend who, when asked where the best place to buy jeans, told me "America," she wasn't kidding. Maybe I'm just fuzzy on the pricing because it's been so long, but they seem to cost more here. I'm probably fuzzy on the pricing. All my jeans in Boston came from Target or Filene's Basement.

Second note: Good God. I have never felt so fat in my life. Actually, I have probably never been so fat in my life. Nothing in my previous normal size fit. Everything with a low-cut waist felt like it was just ending right under the biggest, fattest spot and would never stay in the right place. Also, there seems to be a big "slim thigh" thing going on - no dice, dude, the thighs are not slim. And the new 80s-style slim-all-the-way-down jeans? Who are these flattering on?? Thankfully, things are not yet so bad as they could be - the next size up is slliiiiiightly too big. By another week of my rapid blowing up, they ought to fit just right. *sigh* But sadly, I ended up with a pair skirting the border of "mom jeans", because they didn't make me feel like I was hanging out all over. Damon says they look nothing like mom jeans, but I don't know. The waist is disturbingly high. But at least it seems to keep the big giant new me more in check.

After all this miserable trying on of jeans, I felt like a giant, lardy, getting-stared-at-for-being-so-huge bull-in-a-china-shop lugging my big old self around the store, trying to find Damon, who went downstairs to see if they had any really small ironing boards. I even noticed I looked a little pink in the dressing room mirror, embarrassed to be in front of the anti-shoplifting cameras with my pathetic attempts to get into my usual size of jeans. I had found two pair on sale that were acceptable and wanted to find Damon to get his opinion, so I bumbled off to the escalator with the jeans in hand. Big mistake. Trying to take the as-yet-unpurchased items off that floor caused all kinds of sirens to go off. Suddenly about 5 people (felt like 50) were staring at me, wondering what on earth I might be thinking, trying to walk out of there with that stuff! The clerk kept saying something to me over and over in German, but through the fuzz of horror at having all eyes on my new fatter self carrying my new fatter jeans I couldn't figure out a word of it. I think she was telling me I could just buy them right there, or asking if I wanted to buy them there, and I tried to say in German to her that I didn't know if I wanted to buy them yet, and she just looked at me like I was crazy, and I started to wonder if I might just pass out and die of embarrassment right there. Another clerk then asked me where I was going, and I just couldn't do German. All English came out. I told her I was looking for my husband who was downstairs and she let me go. So I went. The sirens went off again at the top of the escalator, then again at the bottom. I thought Damon was on the bottom floor and I couldn't bear the idea of going through 4 more of the damn sensors so I called him. We met up again and I bought just one pair of the jeans. And I had to go back to the same damn desk I'd just embarrassed myself in front of.


But, the new jeans are much more comfortable than those ones from when I was skinnier.


  1. I don't know anyone who likes buying jeans - it makes even the skinniest people feel fat and poorly proportioned. Personally, I wouldn't mind it if waists came up again: I have several shirts in my drawers that don't now reach the top of my jeans.

  2. Mom's jeans ... last time I was in the States I saw more than a few moms wearing hip huggers, and it was not a pretty sight.

    By the way, look out for the sauces, especially the thick, brown starchy ones that Germans like to put on everything. The starchy potatoes that are served with everything also don't help. And then there is coffee and cake time ... oh hell, we're doomed to a few extra pounds!

  3. For a long time I blamed the dryer for making my jeans smaller. That just showed my denial about that issue. I am actually considering giving up wearing jeans since I don't seem to find any which even kind of fit.

  4. Mary: I wouldn't really mind if they came up either, though not all the way to the waist, which is ridiculously high on me ;) In the meanwhile, though, I don't want to look like a stodge by wearing too high a waist...what a fashion victim I am!

    Mike B: I usually don't eat too much sauce, not because I'm being careful, but because I'm more of a sauce minimalist...I can't believe how much they put on things! I'm a total starch lover otherwise you're right, I should watch it!

    Bek: I would totally have blamed the dryer too...but I don't have one! So I know it's me :/ Jeans just aren't very forgiving, are they?

  5. I agree with Mary. Jeans... have GOT to be purposefully created to make everyone who wears them feel like a fucking whale. I am here to tell you. The last pair of jeans I bought was my first year in Seattle when I miraculously found a pair in a second hand store that fit and weren't falling apart. But for the most part I almost never wear jeans anymore just because I don't feel good in them. I wear comfy "dress" pants or skirts or pajama pants, wherein I can look good, feel good, and embrace the thighs. Oh the thighs.

  6. At least they make jeans in your size on this continent. Be thankful for that. I can not say the same. But that does save me from being shouted at in German by jeans dept saleswomen...

  7. Sara: I would drop jeans too but they are still the only thing I feel like I can be messy in - wipe my hands dry on, eat in without paranoia, etc. Otherwise I'd probably switch to skirts in a second - I can go a size or two down in them and they don't show off all the junk that jeans do!!

    db: I'm not far short of that line, I noticed as I was browsing the racks... How do Europeans stay so skinny? The food doesn't seem all that healthier than American food, and they don't seem to eat small portions at all...

  8. Speaking as the expat who gained a whopping 40 pounds in 16 months, I can safely say you're not alone.

    I think the gain is a combo of lots of things... new and exciting foods, a little bit of shut-in syndrome, some vague depression or shock from your new set of circumstances that causes your metabolism to pack it in & head for the hills... you name it?

    I've now lost about half of what I gained, and let me tell you, it was much easier putting it on than taking it off! I'm currently in german-only jeans because everything I brought with me from america is still light years from fitting.

    To add insult to the jeans-trying-on injury, there's the whole sizing difference. I came here wearing a 12/14, and somehow ended up in a 46. Painful! Plus they make you pay more for your pants the bigger they get. It's not enough to secretly covet those sexy 38s, but now you're forced to pay 14€ more for the privilege of feeling like a lard-ass.

    Goodie... lol


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