By Rob Bell
If you’ve ever seen the comedy skit by comedian Jimmy Fallon (featuring Will Ferrell) you know how ridiculous wearing tight pants looks on the average male physique. Luckily, in Ecuador only women wear tight pants, usually, very tight!
To misquote the old Life Cereal commercial “Mikey likes it”, Robbie (that’s me) likes it too!
Of course, attractive women wear tight pants, usually jeans, in the U.S. and just about everywhere else in the world. But here in Ecuador, it’s not just women with heavenly bodies who wear extremely tight pants. Old, young, very old, very young, thin, not thin, athletic, not so athletic wear them — very tight, form-fitting pants are definitely a thing for most women in Ecuador. In fact, leaving out indigenous Ecuadorian women and tourists, it is rare to see an Ecuadorian woman not wearing tight pants here.
In contrast, indigenous women as a rule wear dresses. Very colorful dresses! Plus colorful shawls, straw hats, lots of jewelry and carry woven baskets. But they make up less than five percent of the population, so you can count on seeing a lot of women in Ecuador wearing tight pants.
My girlfriend is from Quito, and, breaking the stereotype highlighted in this article, she typically wears comfortable non-skin squeezing pants. On a recent visit to that large diverse city, we found ourselves in an arcade with dozens of stalls selling tight pants for women, mostly jeans made right here in Ecuador. I challenged her to purchase one, and she accepted. She tried on quite a few pairs, changing in tiny standing-room-only stalls behind flimsy curtains. After she paraded about a dozen, she settled on two pairs of jeans for which I paid $40. They were very tight, with nice design around the hips and fake pockets (so tight you couldn’t squeeze a toothpick in there) and quite figure-flattering. But as it turns out, it was not her destiny to join the tight pants crowd. Just one wash, and both pairs shrunk to the point she could no longer squeeze into them, struggle as she might!
This tight pants shrinkage situation leads me to wonder whether women in Ecuador purchase tight pants that really aren’t all that tight, at least initially, based on their knowledge that their pants will become tighter after washing. Maybe a female reader can help me out with this.
While women are almost universally wearing extremely tight pants that squeeze from the waist all the way down to their ankles, showing off every inch of muscle, bone and cellulite (as is often the case), Ecuadorian men as a rule wear baggy pants. I have never, in fact, seen a man wearing tight pants a la Fallon/Ferrell during my travels here (quickly adding — not that I’ve been looking)! I pretty much focus on the women, enjoy the show, and say “Gracias” to whoever is responsible for the tight pants phenomenon.
Other Ecuadorian fashion norms …
Other norms of fashion I have noticed include extremely long, well combed (straight) hair on women, often down to their waist, sometimes even further! Of course, backpacks, especially in Cuenca, are a universal, and while the long hair is always black, women’s backpacks come in many different colors, sizes and designs.
Now let’s talk about shirts. Men tend to wear long-sleeved shirts that advertise something. Number one is “Emirates.” This Dubai-based airline is the biggest in the Middle east, and I just read online that it’s been flying to Ecuador for five years now. It is also, I believe, a major advertiser for the Ecuadorian national soccer team. With soccer so wildly popular here, it’s not surprising.
Number two on the popularity shirt promotion is Morehouse College, a private, historically black men’s university located in Atlanta, Georgia. Morehouse is on so many shirts that I’ve noticed, I must conclude that everyone in Ecuador under twenty-five aspires to go there!
And coming in at number three, just ahead of Pilsener beer, is the borough of Brooklyn, New York. I have seen Brooklyn shirts, Brooklyn sweat shirts, Brooklyn caps, and even a Brooklyn skull cap! Not sure why the other four boroughs (Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Manhattan, also called Kings), aren’t as popular. Perhaps Brooklyn is where most Ecuadorians have settled in New York City?
And speaking of … hats, I’m sure you’ve noticed that pretty much everyone in Ecuador wears one! I see mainly white and off white Panama straw hats, which were invented and are produced in Ecuador, but were made popular by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt during the construction of the Panama Canal. Both men and women wear Panama hats. The hats usually have a band, mostly black, but sometimes other colors, and when indigenous women wear them (each of Ecuador’s 14 indigenous groups have their own hat style and color), they always have a bird feather.
Rarely, the hat band will say something, like “Ecuador.” I personally wear a baseball cap, a white one, which says Experience-Ecuador.com on it, along with a flying hummingbird and the words “Ama la Vida.” And I do!
Rob Bell is a professional video producer living in Cuenca, where he enjoys women’s tight pants and writes about his observations. Check out Rob’s Ecuador videos at https://youtube.com/