# of pages written: 10, plus a poem
# of literary mags submitted to: 1
When I posted my open letter to my single strand of gray hair recently, I was asked to post the open letter I wrote around this time last year. If I were to revise this letter, I might mention something about the disturbing Levi’s ad I just found online. It seems to be saying: “Levi’s: the best jeans to wear while you’re running away from your attacker.”
Anyway, here’s the old letter. Enjoy!
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE LEVI’S JEAN COMPANY:
Dear Levi’s Jean Company:
I was recently influenced by one of your commercials. According to the commercial, I could go into any Levi’s store and get fitted by a jean specialist who would tell me my size and my “curve id.” Empowered with this knowledge, I could choose from a myriad of cuts, like skinny, boyfriend-skinny, boot-cut skinny, and so on, to find the perfect pair of jeans for my body. Shortly thereafter, my life would become a happy montage of bike-riding to the organic market, art-making in my sunny apartment, and playing with children in the park – all done in a fantastic pair of Levi’s jeans.
I guess I was looking for the key to my happy montage. My life has become a dreary montage set to somber music that looks something like this: Eva rises before daybreak and trudges up the broken Metro escalators to get to work. Eva develops gray circles under her eyes while working long, thankless hours in a school housed in a basement. Eva heads home in the dark, heats up a frozen dinner in the microwave, and falls into bed exhausted, only to wake up and do it all over again a few hours later.
I knew something had to change. I was unhappy, but I wasn’t sure what to do to make things better. Then I saw your commercial, and I had my answer: I needed a pair of jeans.
Riding on this wave of hope, I dragged my roommate, Kristin, to one of your stores. “You don’t wear jeans,” she said. This was true. Long ago I developed my own eclectic style involving dresses and odd smocks with leggings, which I find to be much less constrictive than jeans.
“Maybe that’s my problem,” I told Kristin. All these other women were going around in their jeans, looking happy and confident. That could be me, I thought.
I walked into your store and announced to the staff: “I don’t like jeans, and I want you guys to change my mind!” The nice sales girl measured my waist-to-butt-to-thigh ratio and pronounced me a “bold” curve, size 27. I was a bit surprised by this. Bold is the curviest of the curve ids. I’m not a stick figure, but I find it hard to believe I’m the curviest a body can get. If I’m a bold curve, dear Levi Jeans Company, what the heck is Kim Kardashian’s curve id?
I went to the dressing room with a pile of jeans and what commenced then was me trying on pretty much every pair of jeans in your store and looking terrible in all of them. After each pair, my self-esteem began to drop, and even the sales girl, with her solid faith in the power of jeans, seemed perplexed.
As a last hope, she came back with the one pair I had yet to try on: skinny, boot-cut, faded. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion clouding my judgment, but they seemed to be the best of the bunch. They weren’t exactly flattering, but they weren’t as unflattering as the others. “What do you think, Kristin?” I asked of my roommate, who was sitting on a little bench in the dressing room, her eyes glazed over from so much denim.
“They’re the best ones so far,” she said.
I wanted to have something to show for my hard work. And the poor sales girl (please give her a raise, Levi’s Jean Company) – I didn’t want her to feel like a failure. So I plunked down my credit card and paid eighty bucks for the jeans.
As soon as I got home, I tried them on again. Oh man, they were restrictive. Had they been this tight in the store? I sucked in my stomach to button them and looked at myself in the mirror. What had I been thinking? They didn’t look good. And when I sat down, they gapped in the back and showed my underwear, which is exactly what your commercial claimed would not happen with the proper curve id.
So, Levi’s Jean Company, I have two things to tell you. One is that your curve id system sucks. The second is that I don’t like jeans. That’s right. You heard me. I don’t like jeans! I don’t look good in them. I don’t like the way they feel. I don’t like the way they make me feel about myself. I’ve decided I’m not going to wear them anymore.
Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest! So what if everyone else in the world wears jeans and likes them? That doesn’t mean I have to. I’ll wear dresses with leggings. I’ll wear Hammer pants. There are other options.
I also made another decision today, Levi’s Jean Company. I’m quitting my job and leaving D.C. Why? Because my job sucks the life out of me, and I don’t want to do it anymore. And I’m tired of pretending like DC is great because it has free museums. I don’t like it here, despite the museums. So I’m moving to Cape Cod for a year to spend some time focusing on writing. It’s not practical, or financially responsible. And maybe nothing fruitful will come of it. But I have to give it a try. Because life is too short to spend it doing something I don’t like. In fact, I think this (not the jeans, after all) might be the key to my happy montage: admit when you don’t like something, and stop trying to make it fit.
Soon my montage will be this: Eva wakes up with the sun and has time to do some yoga before breakfast. Eva spends hours at her computer, and when she steps away from it she’s written at least a little something with which she is pleased. Eva has time to go for long walks and read books and think about the world and her place in it. She appreciates the moment she’s in instead of waiting for it to be over. She isn’t doing something she doesn’t want to do. She isn’t feeling restricted in a pair of too-tight skinny jeans. Her life is like her wardrobe: loose and comfortable and unique.
P.S. I will be returning those jeans as soon as I can find the receipt.