I recently started to notice that I walk like a cowboy. I don’t have a fancy hat or leather boots with spurs, but I hook my thumbs through my belt loops when I walk. I look like I should be standing next to a cactus and whirling a lasso through the air with my free hand. Instead, I walk the halls of the school and the streets of the city with a growing rage, not against saloon-entrenched outlaws, but against fake pockets. I didn’t mean to develop my cowboy habit; it was completely accidental, and it all started at the tender age of about twelve. This is when I started buying women’s jeans more often. I found that if I was lucky enough to have pockets at all, my hands couldn’t fit more than halfway inside. Since then, this trend has been incredibly consistent, and it’s left me very confused. I’ve been questioning the purpose of fake pockets since my early preteen years, and now, three weeks into my research, I’m no closer to a satisfactory answer. Now I’m a little older and a little more knowledgeable on the origins of the useless pocket, but this hasn’t made me any less angry. The fact remains that at any given time, I am prepared to fight the entire women’s jeans industry, and here’s why.
First of all, the pure uselessness of fake pockets is maddening. Why would any company waste time and materials on a seam that serves no purpose? Why would they want to trick thousands of women into thinking they have pockets, only for the truth to come out at some dreadfully inopportune moment? And don’t even get me started on the feeling of trying to put your hands in your pockets just to be met with a cold hearted, completely unnecessary seam. It’s always dismaying to attempt to casually rest your hands in your pockets only to weirdly grope your own thigh because they don’t exist. Obviously, fake pockets can’t hold anything, and this makes them frustratingly pointless. As Georgia Najarian (10) explains, when she started wearing jeans, she expected functional pockets and was sorely disappointed. She instead was met with a single miniscule pocket, which could only hold “a dime.” This demonstrates another issue in the women’s jeans industry: when pants have pockets, they’re almost always too small to hold anything.
Many a time, I’ve been fully prepared to stop my cowboy walk and slip my hands into my pockets like the cool teenage archetype I am only to be thwarted by tiny pockets. It’s not that I’m not grateful to have real pockets once in a while, but I think it would be very helpful if they were large enough to hold my phone, wallet, keys, or anything else a modern woman would want. I’ve grown up watching my male peers fit everything under the sun into their pants pockets with ease, while I’ve struggled with anything longer than two and a half inches. I have a lot of friends who go to thrift stores in search of men’s jeans, in part because their pockets are big enough to actually carry things. This is a great strategy for finding nice pants at a reasonable price, but they often don’t fit as well as women’s jeans might. And why should I have to sacrifice fit for functionality? In an approximately 50% female world, it shouldn’t be this hard to find a pair of women’s jeans with real, reasonably-sized pockets. This frustration pushed me to delve into the history behind this fashion atrocity.
According to an article from Verve, a self-described “global community of intersectional feminists,” both men and women in the middle ages carried pouches within their clothing, and they were equally sized. During the seventeenth century, men’s pockets were sewn directly into their clothing, while women’s pockets continued to be separate. These pockets were between layers of petticoats, making them almost entirely inaccessible, and starting a generations-long period of pocket inequality. Later, in the nineteenth century, women’s dress styles became more tight and restricted, and pockets began to disappear in favor of tiny bags called reticules. Since then, women’s pockets have been almost comically small.
This forces women to purchase bags if they want to carry anything with them, which they usually do. As Jessica Mason (11) says, “women cannot safely carry money or phones or literally anything.” When their pockets are too small for everyday essentials, women turn to the next best option: purses. However, these bags are often very expensive, and this system means that women must buy pants and purses, driving up the price of any outfit. Right now, the fashion industry is actively forcing women to pay more money for the “privilege” of carrying their things.
Clearly, something about women’s pockets has to change. We cannot reasonably continue to expect almost half of the world to be content with mediocre, miniscule pouches of misery in their jeans instead of real, functional pockets. Women’s jeans are in serious need of revamping, preferably in a way that includes real pockets, because fake ones just don’t cut it. As Najarian says passionately, “I think that they are an absolutely useless invention. I think that they are deceptive, and they make you feel lied to, and no one likes them. They are just seams where seams should not be. They are the most useless invention since peeled, individually-bagged bananas.” While pocket inequality is by no means the biggest form of sexism women face today, fixing this issue is a step in the right direction.