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Blue jeans

Jeff Caldwell 08/06/2013 @ 6:02am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

I had to buy a new pair of blue jeans last week.

It shouldn’t have been that hard, but it was, and it was a little traumatic besides.

Let’s face it – while there are lots of things I don’t know much about, I know blue jeans. I’ve been wearing them for over half a century – ever since I started buying my own clothes when I was about 16.  I have to get a new pair of good jeans at least every two or three years. There was that period of time from 1968 to 1972 when I wore the same ones every day, but those were unusual circumstances, and I can’t foresee going back to them.

I buy work jeans considerably more often. In fact, when I raised hogs, I’d sometimes feel the need to buy new clothes two or three times a day. Yet even with all that experience in the denim field, the one thing I just cannot wrap my head around is paying extra for jeans that look worn out.

I don’t need to pay extra for worn out jeans - I have the kit. I mean, I’m a real-do it-yourselfer when it comes to wrecking clothes. Sometimes I don’t even make it out of the store without getting a rip or stain.

But there I was in a major department store, eager to give someone money for a new pair of blue jeans. Stacks of them surrounded me in every direction and every pair looked like something I’d be afraid to wear to town for fear the neighbors would take up a collection for us.

What’s more, I don’t at all understand the attraction of beat-up clothing. Perhaps it goes along with something I read about in the paper – a new trend among suburban kids is to use a cell phone with a cracked screen. They feel that gives them some street cred, like they’re survivors, like they’ve lived through some stuff.  

To me, a cell phone with a cracked screen just makes me think you forgot to take it out of your pocket when you sat down.  

There’s nothing new about people wanting to look like something they’re not, but for most of human history people have tried to gain status by looking fancier, starting with wrapping themselves in a wooly mammoth skin instead of an old buffalo hide and ending at the court of Louis XIV with gold threads and powdered wigs. It’s a fairly new phenomena to turn looking trashy and beat up into high fashion.

You might think I’d be in favor of this trend – it could be my best shot at being considered stylish. But I just think it’s dumb, because my own opinion is that people should look like who they are.  Sounds simple, but it seems like it would save a lot of trouble. If you’re so dissatisfied with who you are, to the point that you put extra effort into looking like someone completely different, perhaps it would be more useful to save money and simply spend your time and effort trying to become the person you want to be. If you’re a suburban kid with plenty of money who’s spending it on beat up blue jeans and cell phones with cracked screens so you can look like you’ve led a tough life, perhaps you should spend some time volunteering at a soup kitchen or shelter so you can get a handle on what a tough life really is.

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