Who knew their significance? Pantyhose, or stockings as we called them, were a part of a my life from eighth grade on. I liked them at first--they made me feel grown-up. But then, after a while, the shortcomings of living in a small town and having your stockings bought at a grocery store by a mother who refused to spend more than a buck fifty on them became apparent.
My stockings were always in one of two wrong places--bunched at my ankles, as cheap ones are wont to do (I hated those damned Brown Sugar ones) or mid-thigh, because they didn't tend to sell stockings for the plus-sized woman at grocery stores. My mother would say, "Just put on your girdle. It'll hold 'em up." Only, just as she was frugal in the pantyhose department, my mom wasn't spending a lot on foundation garments. So my little cheap girdle would either start rolling down with the stockings or the stockings would win from the start as the girdle refused to come up. In either case, I'd end up with hose torn in the seat and down the thighs. The next Sunday, my mother would grumble and complain as she had to dash to the grocery store for more.
Even when I got a bit older and started venturing to Wal-Marts in neighboring towns for the Just My Size and finally to Lane Bryant, my travails continued. Who made those colors for them? I was not quite pecan, tan, coffee, or new brown. So, I either came out with the too-light ones that we called "old lady" stockings or the too dark ones that were equally unappealing.
And I was hard on pantyhose. No matter what I did, how careful I was, they ran. Like a world-class sprinter. That clear nail polish bit never worked for me. All I'd get were sticky white patches on my leg where I hastily applied it.
So, it made perfect sense to me to give them up. One day, I just stopped buying them. I'll still buy tights when it's cold or to match something, but hose? Nuh-uh. Besides, I like the feel and color of my legs. And, when I'm not thinking about how abysmally knock-kneed I am, I'm pretty happy.
My family had fits. My mom and Trinity, no great surprise as they are old-fashioned. But even my sister raised a brow at my new refusal to wear stockings to church. According to my mother, going bare-legged was akin to going with your head uncovered on the first Sunday. If I'm getting dressed before she leaves, she still says, "Oh... you're not wearing stockings?" In that voice that pretends to be asking an innocent question but is, in reality, making a judgment. Trinity simply says, "Girl, I don't know what you're going to do when you get a real job," again, in a voice that's masked as joking.
They also express concern: "Don't your legs get cold?" "You're going to be sick!" (As if my skirts are all that short). And when that doesn't work, my mom resorts to a little shaming--"You gon' have the wind whipping all up in your tail," to which I responded in an aggravated fit one time,
"Mm-hmm. It feels good!"