More Than Numbers

I was sitting in the office of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Center for Poetry yesterday when our secretary, Pam, came up to me and asked what size jeans I wore.

A bit baffled, I told her, “I’m a size seven.”

Then she smiled and said, “I thought so. I’ve got something for you. Come here.”

I followed her down the hall to her desk where she promptly pulled out a plastic bag stuffed with dress pants. “Try these on,” she said, handing a pair to me.

I obliged, feeling a bit odd carrying the secretary’s pants to the bathroom. I wasn’t convinced they were going to fit – I looked at the tag and read that this particular pair was a size two. Right, like those were going to fit me. Maybe in ninth grade in high school they would have, but certainly not now.

Anyway, I slipped off my jeans and stepped into Pam’s pants. To my immense surprise, they fit well.

I took that pair back to her and she said, “Good. Do you want to take the rest home and try them on? I was going to give them to Goodwill, but I thought, ‘That’s just silly, some RCAH kid could use them for interviews or internships.’”

Still wondering exactly what the etiquette was for taking someone else’s pants, I walked back to my room and stowed the bag under the futon, so the pants wouldn’t get stepped on or dirty while I was in class.

As soon as class was over, I went back to my room and tried on these eight pairs of Pam’s pants. Now I wasn’t surprised to discover that they all fit – but I did notice something that was quite off with these eight different pairs of pants: all of them were different sizes.

Pam had a size two, a size zero, and a size seven along with a multitude of other sizes in that bag. It seemed that no two pairs had the same number on the tag, but all were approximately the same size. Hmm.

Per Pam’s instruction, I kept the pants that I liked and fit well, and sought out two other friends who I guessed were might want some pants. I took them the pants and asked the girls to humor me by trying them on.

Right away, I assumed the pants were going to fit one of the girls. She’s a little smaller than I am, shorter and thinner, but I figured the pants would be close enough that she could wear them with a belt, if she had to. However, I didn’t expect the pants to fit the other girl. She’s taller and much skinnier than I am and looks much more like a size double zero than a size seven. Nonetheless, she tried on a pair too, and miraculously enough, they fit.

Now, this little episode with Pam’s pants taught me something, reader. It presented me with an opportunity to share a point that I think is very pertinent to every individual’s life: we are all beautiful.

Many times, I’ve been walking down the street on my way to class when I meet someone who is shockingly good looking. Indeed, it seems as if this university is chock-full of “pretty people” – girls with long legs and toned stomachs, boys with big muscles and bright brown eyes.

Who hasn’t looked at someone and thought, “I wish I looked like that”?

I know I have. People tell me that I’m small or tiny, but honestly I just don’t see it. When I sit down at a desk and see my thighs billow out on the seat of the chair or when I glance in the mirror and see frizzy hair that absolutely refuses to pick between brown and blonde, it’s hard to not only be happy but also to be comfortable and confident with what I’ve got.

But here’s the thing: it is entirely impossible to have all the qualities of “beauty” at once. How can I have long legs but still be dainty, still be somebody’s “shawty”? How can I have a big chest and a big butt but still have a small waist and a toned stomach and thighs? I can’t. It won’t work; these physical traits just don’t always go together.

So I guess what I’m saying is that the case of Pam’s pants illustrated to me an issue much more important than what type of clothing is acceptable to wear to an interview. I can wear pants that are a size two and pants that are a size seven. I have t-shirts in my dresser that range from size “small” to size “large.” Pam’s pants showed me that sizes are just numbers that really don’t mean anything at all, because they vary so much based on brand, type of clothing, and so forth. People, however, are much, much more than numbers and sizes and brands, and we are all beautiful. 

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