Before we talk about leggings (And this has everything to do with leggings, I swear!), here’s a fact: I gained 40 pounds in a very short amount of time. When I tell people (and I do tell people), they tend not to believe me. Maybe they’re just being very kind or perhaps I’ve become a pro at camouflaging my luscious new curves, but a fact’s a fact. Big and beautiful is my new reality and I’m carrying this weight into this fresh new year with an alternating dose of despair and stoicism. 

I would love nothing more than to just make it “unhappen” but we all know that’s not going to happen. But I’m also not going to sit around with a “woe is me” attitude and wait until I’m skinny(-ish) again to live my life and do everything I want to do: go to fabulous cocktail bars, go on dates and go on lots of walks — work and parent, of course, as well. I’m not going to postpone my life until the scale tips in my favor. I’m going to embrace and flaunt this new body and live in the NOW! I’m going to be a fabulous 200 pounds! 

Cue leggings. I love leggings and live in them pretty much 24/7. I work from home. All my meetings happen via Zoom or Slack Huddle. Sometimes I don a vintage kaftan (Palm Springs is great for those) and pretend I’m a sexy socialite in a ‘70s movie, but 90 percent of the time, black leggings and a black tank are my go-to uniform. They are comfy, and when I need to pop out of the house for a Trader Joe’s run or spontaneous coffee get-together, I just put on some red lipstick, cute accessories, and a blazer, and I’m good to go. For a date or art opening? Leggings it is — leather or faux leather, with va-va-voom heels or sexy boots. 

I basically have leggings for every occasion. They used to be a thing that was trend-dependent. They came and disappeared again and were always scoffed at by fashionistas in New York or Europe, mocking LA girls with their casual outfits, flip-flops, and Ugg boots (while secretly being jealous of our effortless beach waves and healthy year-round glow). But now they are here to stay — and slay. They are the quintessential wardrobe staple. 

The leggings I wear at home must be soft, first and foremost, and feel like I’m not even wearing them. They don’t have to have any function or “technology” like lifting, toning, or accentuating the good bits. When I head out to take a Cardio Barre class or walk around the Los Angeles reservoir, it’s a different story. After all, you never know who you might run into! On these occasions, all my less-than-ideal parts (muffin top esp.!!!) have to be concealed from sight. And a yoga class? Stuff has to stay squat-tight when I go upside down or into a twist!  

Funny thing is, I used to be a yoga teacher and bought leggings strictly for style. After all, as a yoga teacher in LA, you need to create a compelling persona and a following. It’s crucial to look uh-mazing! I’d buy leggings for their cute print because they were edgy or had fun details like mesh or cutouts. Fast forward in time, past Covid, and oh how things have changed. In all, I gained 40 pounds. The first 20 somehow magically piled on without me realizing it (everyone’s “Covid 10” was my “Covid 20”). Then last year things got complicated: My boyfriend broke up with me. I broke my ankle (and could only hobble for three months!!!). And my hormones decided to freak out. Bam. Another 20 pounds!  

Now I have a completely different relationship with my body, an entirely new level of self-awareness (or self-consciousness), and a different approach to dressing and shopping for clothes. Clothes now need to hide certain things and accentuate others. So, when it comes to leggings, I can no longer grab a cute pair that caught my attention at H&M or Marshall’s, or even Target. I have to try them on, they have to fit well, and they have to be FUNCTIONAL. I spend much more money on a pair because they need to be well crafted and high-performance. They absolutely must have a high waist with a flattening effect that doesn’t impede my breathing. They have to give my butt a bit of a lift because even though my derriere is still round and perky, it oddly blends into the rest of my newly acquired pounds. And it’s always nice to look like you have a waist. You know: an hourglass figure. Because that makes you feel sexy, feminine, and bold.  

I have to say, now that I’m more luscious and voluptuous, I’m willing to spend more because I have requirements that were alien to me before: well-fitting, squat proof!!!, moisture-wicking (Where did all that sweat come from?), as well as compressive and supportive in all the right places. I don’t necessarily want to look like a sexy beast when I leave the house or work out, but I want to feel like one on the inside. Because confidence is everything, at any size!

Serendipity is a beautiful thing, one of my favorite things. This phenom just occurred when I found my “Tribe.” Well, my original tribe consists of beautiful, powerful, and successful women that support each other. Recently I added a raster of inspiring ladies that I’m not on a first-name basis with but admire from afar, chiefly via Instagram: the fabulous Jennifer Coolidge, who almost declined her role in “White Lotus” because of HER 40-pound weight gain; the incredible Christina Applegate who piled on the kilos after her devastating MS diagnosis; and the stunning Ashley Graham. It’s nice to have role models with similar “rolls.” 

Sorry about the celeb-studded side plot, but we need all the support we can get. And leggings that support your body and caress your curves in all the right places! So the tribe I’m referring to serendipity-wise is the up-and-coming workout-wear brand Tribe 35. Their leggings are as stylish as they are functional, so well-crafted and easy to wear, doing triple-duty contouring, compressing, and controlling. But you can move and breathe sans uncomfortable cinching, pinching or squeezing. No one will ever control me. But I want complete control over how I look and show up in the world: a little bigger (for now, or maybe forever — no matter), but bold and beautiful!

January 16, 2023 — Nataly Chicas