Shopping for Jeans

Shopping for jeans in Bulgaria is really bad for your self-esteem. The “tsk-tsk” look on the faces of the pencil-thin salesgirls reminded me of shopping in the “chubby girls”section in the department store when I was in sixth grade.

I was feeling confident when I started this shopping trip because most of my jeans are too big now.  I haven’t lost as much weight  as Mark, but I am losing without even trying.  So when I walked in a boutique near the university and asked for my size, the salesgirl looked me up and down.  She then  looked me in the eye and  nodded her head up and down (here that means “no”) and then she quickly changed her nod to side-to-side (“yes”). Then she went on a frantic search throughout the store, including the storage room, looking for jeans in my size.  I was so embarrassed that I felt  like sneaking out at this point, but then I became curious about what she would actually find.  After waiting what seemed like forever,  she produced two pair of the saddest looking high-waisted  jeans I have ever seen. Here’s the clincher:  I went in the dressing room and tried them on and they didn’t fit. The legs on their “fat jeans”  were too long and thin and  I could barely get them zipped. These jeans clearly were not made for an American body. I left feeling like I wanted to force feed that salesgirl something to eat so I could “tsk-tsk” back at her for being too thin.

This whole experience got me thinking about how societal expectations can actually shape bodies. In the U.S., women are sporty and athletic and constantly working out and talking about weight and dieting and are still mostly fat.  Here, no one is athletic, they drink lots of coffee and smoke cigarettes like crazy and, from what I can tell, they are mostly size 2-6. They eat “Shopska” salad like it’s really food (it’s just cucumbers and tomatoes) and they don’t believe in breakfast.  A treat for them is one tiny scoop of ice cream in a cup  (that’s the “kiddie” size at our ice cream stores).  There is an expectation that all women here will be thin (not anorexic thin, just thin) and fashionable and wear high heels. In the U.S., women are encouraged to buy the latest Nikes,  join a gym and drive to the  latest hi-impact workout class in Lulu Lemon athletic wear (a Bulgarian woman would not be caught dead in that stuff).  We are also encouraged to eat three healthy meals a day and get some exercise daily.  It just seems like everything in the U.S. is about losing weight yet no one does. Here, no one talks about weight, it’s just an expectation that you will be thin.  I don’t know the answer to why this happens. I just know that I’m losing weight living in Bulgaria and I still can’t find jeans that fit.

So where will I find jeans?  I am going to have to take a trip to  Sofia to find jeans that fit. They have a Gap there and I know they have my size.

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10 thoughts on “Shopping for Jeans

  1. haha :)) I enjoyed reading it! TRUE story 🙂 but I am not sure if u will find the your type of jeans even in Gap, cause I think they might have the regular Bulgarian sizes as well, simply because the demand in Bulgaria is for smaller size cloths…

  2. i stand ready and willing to mail you american jeans. a lot of it is genetics; i don’t eat that much (and i never have ice cream!) but my body is slowly morphing into a replica of my mother’s body. there’s not a lot i can do about it.

    and i know what you mean about the shoes. when i was in finland, all the women wore beautiful high heels and patent-leather flats–without stockings or socks! my feet would be cut to ribbons if i did that. me, i clomped along in my New Balance running shoes and though i looked out of place, my feet felt fine.

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  5. Oh, we do talk about weight a lot. We just talk about it in Bulgarian, haha. And older people are not that thin, many (most) women gain weight after they give birth. There are quite a few fat people in Bulgaria if you look at those over 30. Bad lifestyle leaves its marks later in life. Almost every middle aged man has a beer belly and women are no supermodels either. With some exceptions, of course.

    • I’m Bulgarian but live in the UK and what you call fat, Bg girl, is not what fat is here in the UK (and I’m sure in the US too). What we have in Bulgaria is overweight but here half of the people on the street are obese (clinically obese). If there is someone so fat walking down the street in Bulgaria everyone will turn their heads (and nowadays, I imagine, take pictures). While here in the UK these people (mostly women) are maybe 40% of the population. Or at least in the city I live in.
      After I came here I gained almost 20kg the first few years. I think the main reason is that there is so much (not so bad) ready/half ready food in the supermarkets. It is so easy to prepare, people are so busy so noone really cooks and everyone is fat. When I used to live in Bulgaria my family and everyone I knew were eating almost exclusively cooked food from raw ingredients like meat and veg (stews, casseroles etc). Here this is considered “clean eating” lol… and is like… some kind of achievement! So no wonder. 🙂

      • So true! The “slow food” and “clean eating” movements in the U.S. and the U.K. is what normal eating should be ! And, as you say, it has always been that way in Bulgaria — I hope that does not change!

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