Leggings seem to be a hot topic right now. Ever since a mother wrote an open letter to the student newspaper at Notre Dame critiquing leggings, women have been choosing a side and digging their heels in. Most seem to defend them.
Well, here’s another opinion to add to the mix, and this time by a 25-year-old woman and not a mother of teen boys: I think leggings are inappropriate.
I used to feel differently. Actually, let me rephrase that: I used to want to feel differently. I wanted to be convinced that what I wore was fine, even as I knew that I looked good in leggings and that I was choosing to attract attention to myself in a way that was distracting. But even when I could feel that I was dressing inappropriately, I used the same arguments every other woman has made regarding them. I didn’t want to acknowledge what I already knew: that there's no excuse for wearing leggings outside of the gym, and maybe even at the gym you should throw a pair of shorts over the top.
Now, before I continue, I want to make a couple of things clear. By leggings, I mean all leggings. The argument against too small or sheer leggings doesn't really seem relevant to me, because no woman I know would purposefully wear a pair of leggings that are see-through outside of her home. And by wearing leggings, I mean wearing them without a long sweater or blouse over the top to cover your bum. If you're doing that, that's a bit of a different scenario.
There are two reasons generally cited for why leggings are worn: one, they’re fashionable, and two, they’re comfortable.
As a fashion blogger, I take real issue with reason number one. Leggings aren't fashion! They are meant for exercising. Clothing used to be something people took pride in - it makes me sad that dressing down has become the new norm. So why do women wear leggings to look fashionable? Because if you have a nice pair of leggings, they’re flattering. They pull you in, up, and make everything look better. They match pretty much everything. It's understandable why women want to wear them.
But they’re not fashion. They’re athletic clothing. And if you’re going to call them a fashion item, then you’ll have to explain to me why leggings are any different than a tight, low-cut, high-hemmed, sexy dress. I know that I would never consider wearing something like that, but in my head, I used to think that leggings were a different ball game. Maybe because they didn't actually show any skin, I could tell myself that they were more modest.
But I’ve talked to many men about this very topic, and they’ve all told me that leggings are distracting. It’s not an insult to them that they know their own nature. Men are visual creatures. And the men who voice this are not weak – they’re the men who want to be good, who want to view women as more than their bodies. I know those are the kind of men I'd like to be surrounded with. Of course, that's not to say that a man should immediately treat you as less than a person if you're wearing something like leggings. But it's also not realistic to say that men won't be drawn to the physical when faced with it.
At this point, the conversation usually shifts: we say that leggings are not about fashion, they’re about comfort. But this really gets me. Leggings are comfortable – but no more comfortable than a pair of sweatpants. So there’s no reason for any woman to wear them for comfort’s sake…unless you’re actually wearing them as a fashion item. So we end up back where we started.
The mother who wrote the letter on this topic wasn’t wrong. She saw three young women at church, at Mass, wearing leggings and crop tops. A place of worship is not a place to either dress unthinkingly or dress with the implicit purpose of drawing attention to the physical. We dress nicely in synagogues and churches to express respect for God, not to show off what our bodies look like. And at this point in my life, I don't really believe that women don’t know that wearing leggings is distracting. If you didn't know before, maybe you'll believe it after reading this. And every time you put on leggings, you’ll have a choice to make.
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!
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Hey! I'm Abby, the creator of Classically Abby, a commentary, opera, beauty, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. I'm the first Conservative Influencer and I'm an opera singer with three degrees in performance!