The Sweatpants of Defeat

I recently wore sweatpants to a family birthday party. My brother just stood there in his black V-neck sweater, sleek tie and fashionably slim pants, looked at me disapprovingly and shook his well-groomed head. I asked him what the problem was and he told me, and I quote, “People that wear sweatpants in public have given up on life.”

I laughed in his face and told him that I wear sweats to the store, to friend’s houses and that if it was socially acceptable, I’d wear them to work. While he was still recoiling from that bit of news, I told him, “Shoot, most of the time, I don’t even do my hair – I just let it dry and hope for the best!”

(I must admit, that approach to curly hair is kind of a crap shoot. Sometimes it works out fine, other times I look like I’ve been chased through a very humid jungle.)

I think he was tempted to disown me right then and there because as he put it, no self-respecting person would present themselves to the world that way. Like our father, he sees it as an expression of unabashed laziness and a deplorable lack of class.

I’m sure many would agree with them. I know he’s got somewhat of a point, and I would agree that sometimes what we take for granted as a lowly sweat suit is really just people wearing the defeat they feel inside.

I love my sweatpants, though. My sweats love me and don’t give me any grief about gaining a few pounds. They give me room to breathe and space. They extend themselves for me.

My jeans, however, are not so forgiving. I feel like I owe my pants a deep apology for stretching them to their limits and embarrassing them in public with front pockets so puckered and stretched they look like mouths gaping in horror. They’re aghast. They’ve been abused, and now they’re screaming because they can’t take it anymore.

I am currently trying to get rid of those unwanted pounds because frankly, it’s cheaper to lose ten pounds than replace an entire wardrobe.

Other than that, I’m pretty comfortable with myself. Sure, I have a few hang-ups about my body, and I still think swimsuits are the devil. But I honestly don’t care what my appearance says to strangers as long as it doesn’t lead people to believe that I think I’m better than them.

I guess I should be offended that my brother implied that I looked like a bum, but I’m not. I know he still loves me, even if he thinks I’ve joined The People of Walmart.

While some are wearing their failure, the rest of us just don’t feel like putting on a show. We don’t feel any less fetching, and it’s not a cry for help. We’ve got all the love and attention we need.

I am ok with myself. I’ve got God on my side and supportive friends and family. I have a husband and kids that love me when I’m ugly and when I’m at my worst. In a lot of ways, they are like my favorite sweats. Just think: when you’re sick, when you get tired of sucking in your gut and you just don’t want to impress anyone anymore, you want sweats. Sweats, like great friends, allow you to let it all hang out. They keep you covered and hold you together when you’ve let yourself go. They stretch with you and don’t judge. Everyone wants friends as forgiving and comfortable as a pair of sweats. It’s the kind of friend I want to be.

So when I’m in my sweats, I’m not wearing defeat, I’m actually wearing a metaphor for the life I want to live: humble, tolerant and always ready to receive people just the way they are.

Take that, David! (Just kidding, I’m pretty sure he never reads my blog.)


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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