Am I The Only One Who Finds Mom Jeans Really Painful On The Crotch Area?
The Debrief: Are Mom jeans a pain in the front bum, or is it just me? Why one small part of me is mourning the death of stretch denim…
Fashion is a science as much as it’s an art. It goes in predictable cycles. And nowhere is this more true, or as easy to map out on a piece of graph paper, than with jeans.
Just as what goes up must come down, what goes soft and slouchy must return at some point to structure and form. And if we’re applying Newton’s Laws to fashion (guys, I think I’m applying Newton’s Laws to fashion) then every trend must have an equal and opposite trend; in this case, the rise and rise of trainers, loafers and practical flats, being balanced out by the return of sturdy retro denim.
As shoes got more forgiving, with trainers and slides being favoured over skyscraper heels, all that discomfort we used to suffer in our feet had to be displaced elsewhere. Exhibit A: the arse crack. Exhibit B: the crotch.
’Amy,’ I messaged my friend and workmate a couple of months ago. ’Have you ever had pins and needles in your vagina?’ ‘God yes,’ she messaged back from the next desk, sensing my urgency and kindly resisting the urge to point out I really meant ‘vulva’. 'It’s those jeans isn’t it? Can you shake it off?' I squirmed, silently. Ow. I stood up and repositioned myself a bit. Owww. Every fidget was painful like my bits were being pincered by a denim vice. This never happened with jeggings.
For something known as the ‘Mom’ jean, 2017’s denim style du jour shows a surprising lack of tenderness. Or maybe I’ve missed the point; maybe they’re meant to be reminding me of every gynaecological sacrifice my mother made to bring me into the world every time I sit down sharply on the bus? Either way, those ubiquitous high-waisted styles are making carpaccio out of my privates.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of them. When the death knell finally sounded for stretchy denim last year, I wasted no time rushing out to source a pair of proper jeans. Serious jeans. Sturdy jeans. Jeans made from the kind of serviceable, rigid denim my 19th-Century ancestors might have worn to build a railway. After years of the ubiquitous skinnies getting continually softer and softer until they were basically just thick blue tights, this felt like a refreshing tide change. Jeans that hug you firmly and make you stand up straighter! Jeans that hoist your arse up and showcase it proudly, like a trophy cabinet! I bought two pairs – straight-cut faded mom jeans from a charity shop, and wide-leg indigo crops from Whistles.
And in the mornings, they look and feel great. Snug but not too tight, they’re everything I’ve learned that jeans could be from watching old episodes of Saved By The Bell. But after lunch, something else happens. Around 2 pm they become madly uncomfortable. Pinchy. Abrasive. Like riding astride the UTI Express. I don’t know if it’s too much sitting down or the effects of eating lunch or what, but where I used to long to get home and take my bra off, now I count down the hours till my whole lower half can be (to quote Rachel from Friends’ short lived erotic writing career) liberated from its denim prison.
And it isn’t just the angry vag, either – there’s also the perpetual wedgie (Levis’ much-adored Wedgie Fit Jeans are the middle school bully of the denim world), the scary lines and indentations on your hips and stomach at the end of the day and the worry that if you eat an especially big burrito you might just have to go home in an Uber with your fly undone. Look, I’m not saying non-stretch denim is the corset of our generation...but it won't take Nicole Kidman coughing blood into a hanky to send me fleeing back to lycra.
So are we all secretly wincing our way through the day, am I just abnormal? Not according to Dr Juliet McGrattan GP, but I might just be more sensitive than some.
'One of the issues is the size of women's labia, it varies hugely,' she tells me. 'It's not always neat and tidy and tucked away down there, and longer labia can get caught in underwear and be uncomfortable in tight clothes and stiffer fabrics. There's a rich blood and nerve supply in the labia and vulval tissues so they're pretty sensitive – which is a bonus for sex but not always for fashion!'
Brilliant. After 29 years of never giving them a second thought, I can now add ‘possibly massive labia’ to my list of body hang-ups (or hang downs). But aside from making us walk to the loo like John Wayne, can uncomfortable jeans actually do real damage?
Not thrush, thank God – that’s more likely to be caused by hormones than high-rise trews. 'I wouldn't advise against tight jeans unless they're causing pain, discomfort or pins and needles, in which case it's sensible to stop,' says Dr McGrattan. 'Trying to wear them in and soften the fabric with a few runs through the washing machine makes sense.'
There we go then. I can keep shopping around and hope to hit on a golden waist-to-woowoo ratio, but maybe the best answer we have for how to conquer the crotch-hungry jean is the same as conquering the blister-giving shoe: you just have to keep wearing it. So for now, I’m resigned to at least another few years of cotton twill camel toe. Or hey, there are always culottes.
GIFs by Mighty Oak
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