Cocktail Crossfire: Are Skinny Jeans Killing Us?

Today's Wall Street Journal calls skinny jeans into question, pointing out some scary health issues related to the tight pants trend. But are they really all that bad? We discuss. 

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Today's Wall Street Journal calls skinny jeans into question, pointing out some scary health issues related to the tight pants trend.  But are they really all that bad? We discuss.

Skinny jeans look cool. Look: Pinterest, the social network for fashionistas, says so. Especially those colorful ones down there: super fly.

And, contrary to the misleading moniker, "skinny jeans" aren't just for skinny humans. For those of us not built like models, fitted pants do more for one's body than flares, bell bottoms or bootcut pants -- adding a giant orb of fabric around the skinniest part of one's body does not flatter. Really, anyone with thinner ankles than thighs -- anatomically: most people -- can pull off skinny jeans. There's a form-fitting pant for every body type. Even CNN agrees, suggesting the right skinny pant for every figure.

And never in the history of the universe have skinny jeans and mom jeans overlapped in a Venn diagram.

They look better with shoes. Unlike too-long flares, which obscure shoes and look sloppy, dragging all up on the ground, a lengthy skinny jean will bunch up, showcasing whatever footwear. And, there's the need to account for a height differential, unlike flares, which with a too-high shoe make one look like a child gone through puberty too fast. Then, there's the boot issue. Or rather, there is no boot issue. There's an entire Facebook Group devoted to the problem with tucking flare jeans into Ugg boots for a reason. "Doesn't it just piss you off when you see someone walking around with those very warm and comfy ugg boots, but they don't have their pants tucked in properly!? It sure makes me want to kill a magician, and wear him as an outfit, if you ask me," asks the Group administrator. That goes for all boots, really. Thin legged pants just slip right in.

There are probably health benefits. Beyond the motivation to fit into skinny jeans, which many workout regimens employ, there's a theory out there (at least among some people we Gchat with) that the effort it takes to lift one's leg in a skinny pant, as opposed to a flow-y one, has some sort of health benefit. It certainly feels like a workout. As for all that Wall Street Journal talk about digestion issues, these men with tight pants syndrome had too-skinny skinny jeans. "There is usually a discrepancy of 7.5 centimeters or more," Dr. Bessa wrote, notes The Journal. A size up would have saved these vain men from their burpy futures.

They make perfect bike riding pants. Some might say that the douchey "hipster" bike trend created a douchey "hipster" skinny jeans trend. First: Skinny jeans are not hipster. Mormons wear them. Cops wear them. Presbyterians wear them. They do happen to make the perfect garment for bicycling -- a very fun activity that anyone and everyone can enjoy except when done wearing billowy pant fabrics, which get caught in greasy bike chains. The safe alternative to skinny jeans are those cumbersome (and arguably douchier, definitely nerdier) bike pant clips. No thanks.

-- Rebecca Greenfield 

Let's put aside the fact that I bought my first pair of skinny jeans at a TJ Maxx in Missouri in 2006, meaning, therefore, that by that ancient date, they had time to trickle down to malls in middle America and go on sale -- making them basically the Methuselah of trends. Skinny jeans can turn your legs into sausages, complete with sausage rings, perhaps permanently. That's just one of the five reasons skinny jeans must die.

Disfigurement. Skinny jeans can cause lipoatrophia semicircularis, The Wall Street Journal's Melinda Beck reports. What is that?! According to Wikipedia"It consists of a semicircular zone of atrophy of the subcutaneous fatty tissue located mostly on the front of the thighs." Basically, it looks like you're wearing an invisible garter belt. File skinny jeans as yet another one of the many items intended to make you look good enough to make someone to want to see you naked that has the perverse effect of making you look worse when they do. 
Perspiration. Skinny jeans make you feel like a goth in hot weather. How do you frolic in the springtime when it's hard to bend your knees? Look how sad the woman on the left is. (Photo via jenn11_14.)nn11_14
Disintegration. Next time you ride the subway when construction workers are getting off work, look at their jeans -- worn out perfectly, soft and a little drapey, smooth, faded just right. That's because they're 100 percent cotton. Now look at your skinny jeans -- with their stupid 2 percent elastane or spandex -- right after the first time you wash them. Misshapen and ugly. I scanned eBay for evidence of this poor quality, even among the most expensive brands. Keep in mind these are the good specimens, the ones people think they can resell. In 20 years, youngsters will never be able to buy our used skinny jeans at an absurdly priced vintage shop.
(Photos via eBay.)
Butt confinement. Skinny jeans do not do the most important jeans task of all -- make your butt look good. Instead, it looks squished and kind of flattened, like a uniboob-creating sports bra for your bottom half. It was quite appropriate for The Journal to forgo J.Crew's skinny jeans terms "matchstick" and "toothpick" for the far more apt "cheese stick."
(Photo via Malingering.)
The Baby Look. Which brings us to the most horrific part about skinny jeans -- they are merely a symptom of a sickening infantilism that has infected the minds of millions of women. The butt-squishing mentioned above is usually hidden by a heinous drapey cardigan thing, or a heinous tunic thing -- something with tight sleeves and floppy fabric around the middle. This is because, for reasons that remain unclear, ladies want to look like they have long floppy limbs and square torsos -- as in, look like babies. Babies! How is trying to look like a baby not wrong? I am open to the argument that trying to look like a baby isn't wrong, but I have yet to hear it.
(Photos via ShopBop and Flickr's Island Spice and ryanrocketship.)

-- Elspeth Reeve

Image via Shutterstock by hartphotography

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.