I’ve written several times about masks in my life. Hell, one of the better poems I ever wrote back in high school was called “Masks.” For as long as I have been studying people, I’ve been curious about the things we hide behind when we put ourselves out in front of other people. From something as obvious as our clothing or style choices, to more subtle things like facets of our personality or the people we associate with. We construct these images…facades, really…of who we think the “ideal” us is. Carefully constructed personas designed to fool the rest of the world.
Sometimes they work. Many times they don’t.
As acutely aware of masks as I like to think I am, it often comes as a surprise to me when I realize I’m still wearing them. Oh, as the years have gone by I’ve certainly taken a lot of them off. There are still a few lurking around, though. I’d like to think I’m familiar with the ones that are still around, but every once in a while one sneaks up on me.
Just last week I saw one for what it was, and it’s so obvious to me now as to be embarassing.
What was it?
The way I wore my pants.
Yes, I finally realized it – I’m pretty sure that a lot of you (especially the women in my circle) have been keenly aware of it for a while, but the magnitude of it just hit me last week.
For those of you who don’t know me in real life, I shall explain. Up until last week, I wore my pants very high for a man. Like, at or even above my belly button. I would justify the fact that I did so by saying that it really was my waist, and that guys who wore their pants lower were just trying to hide the fact that they should be wearing a much larger pant size than they were. While that may very well be the case, they aren’t the only ones who were hiding. See, when I was wearing my pants up that high it made it more difficult to see how much my belly bulged out over my waist, and I didn’t feel as though I looked as big as I was. In all fairness, I believe this started when I was a kid and had to wear adult sizes because of my weight. My long pants were VERY long, and I had to wear them that high in order to keep them from dragging on the ground. In time, though, it got to be something more.
Of course, I was also causing my “junk” to be crammed into my pants and outlined clearly for the world to see (a condition I have learned is known as Moose Knuckles, the male equivalent of the Camel Toe). The whole “underwear riding up my ass crack” factor was pretty annoying too. I could also wear much smaller t-shirts than I should have been able to getin to.
I wasn’t just trying to fool everyone else, either. Wearing my pants like that worked to pretty effectively hide it from me, too.
It smacked me in the face last week when I posted an old picture of myself to our guild web site. In it I was wearing a pair of shorts with the shirt tucked in (a practice I learned to get over). When I saw it, I realized just how bad it looked…and the reality of what I have been doing for the last 20 years smacked me right between the eyes.
So I started wearing my pants normally. I didn’t say anything to anyone about it at first, and it’s only now that I’m feeling brave enough to write about it. I think the embarrassment of 20 years in which my lower half has looked goofy and/or pornographic caught up to me at once. When K. asked me about it I wouldn’t even talk to her at first – it actually took me an hour or so to finally voice everything I was thinking.
Now I’m getting used to wearing my pants in the proper manner. The biggest thing I notice, of course, is my belly. It really is noticeable how much bigger than my waist it is when I have a pair of pants on. I think though, in many ways, it’s helped to motivate me more than mortify me. I want it GONE. While it’s awkward to suddenly have the top of my pants so close to my ass crack, it’s nice to not have to constantly be adjusting myself. I don’t look like I’m wearing high waters when I have long pants on anymore, either.
And, yes, I’m wearing pants that are smaller than I was when they were higher. So I guess all those guys I maligned for doing so get the last laugh after all.
So to any of you I’ve scandalized in the past with my overly tight crotch, I apologize.
To any costume designers (*cough*actorkat*cough*) who have had to make me look good with this silly insistence of mine, I’m sorry.
To anyone who has tried to politely point out how bad this looked only to have me shut them down, I was wrong.
I’ve taken off one more mask. It feels good. Strange, but good.
Wonder how many I have left?