I Love High Waisted Pants Even Though They Remind Me that I Don't Love My Stomach

I'm getting over my body image issues, one pair of high waisted jeans at a time.
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Kelly Dougher
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I'm getting over my body image issues, one pair of high waisted jeans at a time.

When I was a teenager, I had a flat stomach. I was inordinately proud of it because I was a teenager. I didn't have to work for this flat stomach; it was simply the result of genetics and the fact that I lost interest in food in high school.  

I look back at that now and try not to be annoyed at my younger self for prizing the flat stomach that I so passively achieved. I didn't have a boyfriend or a huge circle of friends — people didn't know how to talk to the only deaf girl in the school, and my being self-conscious about it probably made the situation worse. So sure, I felt awkward and hid in baggy clothes at school, but at home I could lie on my back in bed, look at my stomach sloped inwards, and feel like hot shit. 

The dress for my 9th grade formal was actually a crop top and a high-waisted skirt. Oh how things come full circle. 

The dress for my 9th grade formal was actually a crop top and a high-waisted skirt. Oh how things come full circle. 

Fast-forward almost a decade later and a newfound love for food and — I half suspect — birth control pills have given me a little tummy. It's probably not noticeable to anyone other than myself. I only notice it because it's a different stomach than the one that I had for the first 18 years of my life. Most of the time I don't worry about it. I'm not willing to diet or workout harder than I already do just for the sake of a flat stomach. Hell, I don't even care about it when I'm naked because there's better parts of me to focus on (boobs, obviously). 

However, whatever lingering insecurity I have about my stomach has recently gotten in the way of enjoying a trend that I'm sort of crazy about: high waisted pants. 

Yes, my toes were cold. Do yourself a favor and buy killer high heels that AREN'T peep-toe. 

Yes, my toes were cold. Do yourself a favor and buy killer high heels that AREN'T peep-toe. 

Things started out OK. I thrifted a pair of high-waisted, wide-legged pants made out of some kind of flowing, crepe-like material. They flow over my stomach in a straight line and make my legs look extra-long, especially when paired with killer high heels.  

These kind of pants are sort of like the gateway drug to the world of high-waisted pants. They're flattering on all body types and they're easy to dress up for work or events. 

I started noticing all the high-waisted flared jeans popping up in my Instagram feed and my favorite stores. I ended up impulse-buying a pair from Forever 21 (Normally, I try to avoid fast fashion stores these days, but sometimes it's still the best way to try a trend you're unsure about without dropping too much dough).

Always match your lipstick to your shoes, ladies!! 

Always match your lipstick to your shoes, ladies!! 

I like how these pants can look surprisingly put-together, thanks to the dark wash and a nice pair of heels. However, they're pretty stretchy, which I originally thought was a good idea. Now I think that next time, I'll go for a pair that's more structured (for better support) and with BUTTONS — I feel like that whole crotch region looks weird without buttons. 

Moving on from examining my crotch... 

And we've arrived at the point where things got frustrating for me. I decided that what I really needed next was a pair of very high-waisted, very skinny jeans because OTHER girls look cool in them (and don't even pretend that that reasoning has not led you to buy something questionable at least once). 

Yeah, another Forever 21 impulse-buy happened. These next jeans are also stretchy, but much tighter. I have to admit that the feeling of my entire stomach being constricted by a pair of pants makes me want to pack up and move to a nudist colony. I accidentally discovered a great criteria: if your pants are tight enough to make eating a salad difficult, those pants may not be the pants for you. 

If you're still not sure, my second piece of advice is to not ask your mother for her opinion. She will kindly say, "Wellll, they do make your tummy pop out a little. Stand up straight!" I WAS STANDING UP STRAIGHT, MOM. 

You can't tell but I'm totally smizing here. 

You can't tell but I'm totally smizing here. 

Still, as you can see above, I tried my hardest to make these jeans work. Whenever I wore them I sucked my tummy in, threw my shoulders back, stuck out my boobs, threw on a very distracting coat--you get the idea. In the end, I just don't feel comfortable in this particular pair of high-waisted jeans (mentally or physically). 

I'm certainly not saying that you can't wear high-waisted jeans if you don't have a flat stomach, but I think we can all agree that it's not worth it to wear clothes that make you feel uncomfortable. 

So, I'm continuing the search for my perfect pair of high-waisted jeans. Here are a few that I think might be real winners:

L-R: Nasty Gal You're The Boss Wide Leg Pants, $68, nastygal.com; Madewell Flea Market Flares in Carl Wash, $135, madewell.com; ASOS Curve Ridley High Waisted Skinny Jean, $43, asos.com

L-R: Nasty Gal You're The Boss Wide Leg Pants, $68, nastygal.com; Madewell Flea Market Flares in Carl Wash, $135, madewell.com; ASOS Curve Ridley High Waisted Skinny Jean, $43, asos.com

The Madewell jeans, while gorgeous, are a little out of my price range right now so those go on a "one day" list for me. The ASOS jeans, however, seem to be very flattering (AND they come in plus-size, tall, and petite sizes). 

In the end, however, I think I'm just going to have to do everyone's least favorite thing in the world: go to a few actual stores and try on a million high-waisted jeans until I find the pair that makes me feel like hot shit. If anyone knows of a good place to start, please share your wisdom in the comments!

I'd also love to hear about that one trend that you love even if it's something that isn't flattering or that people say isn't flattering or that just straight-up makes you feel uncomfortable when you expected it to make you feel amazing. Did you figure out a way to make it work for you anyway? 

And, OBVIOUSLY, if you have a pair of high-waisted pants that make you feel like a million bucks, feel free to post pics in the comments. That doesn't really even need to be said. 

Kelly will probably be posting fitting room selfies on Twitter in the very near future so follow along for the ride: @picturesqueliar 

Photos by Josh Kirby