i started officially using the term a few months back when i decided it was a good mantra for a girl raising money for outdoor programs and climbing mountains. it was short and sweet (two things I’ve obviously never been accused of). it was easy to remember. it was hashtag-able and visually prompting (i hope you all think of old men in whitey tighties when you hear it. i know i do). it was kind of funny and definitely in questionable taste (my mother hates it almost as much as she hates when i call her out on my blog). mostly, it was perfect for a girl like me because i genuinely dislike wearing pants. the only problem was most everyone else had no idea what it meant.
occasionally: “so wait, are you going to climb to the top of mt. kilimanjaro without pants?” not the whole thing. nobody wants frostbitten gams. nobody.
once or twice: “your party is pants optional. can i still wear pants?” yes. that’s what optional means.
most often: “why go pantless?” because i can.
the truth is, i really have never known how to describe it. it may have started as something silly but it’s become so much more than that. it’s become incredibly personal for me and this year-long journey i’ve taken on. but if i’m going to say it and advertise it and shout it off the top of mountains, i should be able to back it up.
so here it goes: GO PANTLESS is body image. it’s self esteem. it’s self awareness.
it’s a universal way to express something personal.
in a state of complete vulnerability, i’m going to share mine with you.
i bet you could list 10 things you hate about yourself right this minute. you could list things you don’t like in the way you look or they way you think or how you sound or what you say. we all have it. it’s ingrained in our eyes thanks to photoshop and plastic surgery and expectations that women should only have hair on their heads and nowhere else. for example:
1.) i have two scars on my face. i’ve had them since i was four. i had shingles (commonly contracted in kids who don’t get chicken pox, and also old people). it took over my face. it took out nerves on my right eye and i still can’t wink on that side (sorry, boys). apparently, it was a disgusting sight. my mother always tells me the time i was sick was when she really learned how quickly people judge. she said they stared. they whispered. they pulled their kids to the other side of the room to avoid the girl with the face. thankfully, i was four. i don’t remember being shunned like a leper. i do, however, have the scars to prove it.
2.) my belly. i have one. it’s there and it looks like a belly. you can’t see my abs and it hangs over the front of my jeans. i’ve had it since i can remember. my sister used to call me the ethopian child. i’m fairly confident that if i lost 13 more pounds and crunched til i dropped, it would still be there, though i bet richard simmons would disagree.
3.) rosy cheeks. my middle name is rose because of this exact reason. most of the time, it’s relatively normal. but when i work out or climb mountains or get stressed or upset, my face turns bright red. like tomato red. like call that girl an ambulance because her face looks like an ambulance bright red. again, i’ve had it since i can remember.
1.) i’ve always hated my scars. i’ve hated explaining them to people because i don’t really understand them myself. i get self conscious when i see them in pictures. for a very long time i’ve wanted to have them removed or softened. after all, your face is the one thing you can’t cover up.
2.) this one needs no explanation. nobody wants to feel overweight or out of shape. i hate being in swim suits or tee shirts or god forbid naked.
3.) “wow. you’re face is really red.” yep, thanks asshole. but seriously, people say it all the time, as if i have choice over it. i don’t. as if i didn’t know. i do. it makes me uncomfortable.
1.) it was my dad’s job to rub my medication on my face when i had shingles. he always apologized to me later on in life, convinced that the only reason i had scaring was because he didn’t apply it properly. he knew i was in pain, he wanted to help, but he was sure that he rubbed too hard in places or didn’t use enough. i don’t know if that’s true, but i’m now incredibly thankful for these scars. my dad died two years ago, but i’m happily reminded every day of how much he loved me when i look in the mirror.
2.) if i were to actually try to get a flat six pack, i’d have to give up beer and donuts. fact. but i drink beer with friends and eat chocolate every time i’m with my mom. i’d rather keep the friendship, the laughter, and the belly.
3.) though i no doubt will continue to wish that my face didn’t get quite so red, i can’t change it. it’s who i am. when i work hard, i mean really hard, you can see it all over my face. i’m strong. i’m healthy. for me, this is what that looks like. when i’m on top of mt. kilimanjaro, i hope to god my face is bright red because then you’ll all know i’ve earned it.
going pantless is about being self aware. it’s about finding comfort in uncomfortable situations. it’s about putting yourself out there (loudly) with your imperfections. it’s about owning who you are. it’s about confidence. it’s about body image. it’s about self esteem. it’s about self awareness.
so, i challenge you to #gopantless, too. it doesn’t have to mean naked (well, sometimes it does). it doesn’t even mean underwear if you don’t want. if you want to wear cut-offs because you’re a never nude, i give you my blessing. if you want to wear a skirt or shorts or a dress or a tutu, do so proudly. going pantless just means that your legs are free to feel the air and get as many bug bites as possible.
it means wearing something just short enough to make you feel uncomfortably good.