Look at a photo from the 80’s and you’ll notice some remarkable differences. Men have sideburns and Buddy Holly glasses, women have Farrah Fawcett wings and people have cheekbones.
The cheekbone, like the collarbone and the shoulder blade, was one of the first clues that something was amiss. It simply disappeared after 1980 and is found today only on Tour de France contestants and New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.
Look again and under the wide lapels and polyester vests, you’ll see waistlines. Waistlines. Thanks to baggie hip hop clothes, low riders and Spandex no one has needed a waistline in years.
Leggings, which replaced blue jeans for women about 20 years ago, have been a mixed blessing in our national fat epidemic. Yes, they got women out of pantyhose (clearly invented by men) but they never failed to “fit,” allowing undetected weight gain. In fact, elastic waistlines were once called “The Devil’s Playground” for this reason.
Vanity sizing, in addition to leggings, has further kept people in denial. Women who think they are a junior size 3 or 1 or misses’ size 4 or 2 today thanks to size inflation would be shocked to find the original 7/8s and 9/10s, found in vintage and resale stores, won’t even get over their hips.
Who Remembers Blue Jeans?
Twenty years ago, many women of a certain age had jeans in two sizes—those for normal days and those for fat/hormonal days. Why? Because unlike leggings, “normal” day jeans would not “forgive” anything—and kept women at their normal weight. If their jeans fit, they were fit. And even though “stretch” jeans existed they were uncool.
But since then, Americans have blimped out. The average American man today weights 194 pounds and the average woman 165 pounds. Everything from airline seats to coffins to hospital operating tables has been redesigned to accommodate this gross national product.
So it is a good sign that jeans are back, big time. Sure they must be torn at the knees; sure their wearers are carrying cell phones and not Bics but it is still a positive trend.
There are many fashion trends no one wants back. The “corporate metal” look women adopted in the 1980s—poodle perms, pants suits, Reeboks the size of snowshoes and a 20-pound leather briefcase. The Olivia Newtown-John workout look—shiny tights and high cut leotards to minimize hips with obligatory headbands. Esprit’s clean-cut sappy pastels that ushered in grunge? Mid-calf acetate chemise dresses with anklets and pumps.
But jeans with their rebellious and youth message are a trend everyone welcomes. Unless, of course, they are stretch jeans or, perish the thought, “jeggings.”
Martha Rosenberg is author of the award-cited food exposé “Born With a Junk Food Deficiency,” distributed by Random House. A nationally known muckraker, she has lectured at the university and medical school level and appeared on radio and television.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.