Leggings are like a giant sock that extend up your thigh, enveloping your butt in a soft, warm embrace. They are also, as concerned Catholic mother Maryann White recently wrote in the University of Notre Dame student paper, the Observer, a devious invention by the fashion industry that “has caused women to voluntarily expose their nether regions.”
White, a mother of four sons, is struggling to teach her sons that “women are someone’s daughters and sisters” (yikes) and leggings are apparently adding to her struggle.
In “The Legging Problem,” she wrote:
I was ashamed for the young women at Mass. I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds. My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not). They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable. How much more difficult for young guys to ignore them.
Her plea to ask college women to stop wearing leggings was received about as one might expect: by mockery, protest, and dissent. In response to her op-ed, one student organized a campus Leggings Day, encouraging other students to “join in our legging wearing hedonism!” The Washington Post reports that another student group, Irish 4 Reproductive Health, also planned a “Leggings Pride Day,” while one senior penned a response and informal protest, “The Leggings Protest.”
White’s letter implies that women’s bodies are shameful, and that, in order to be treated respectfully by men, they must be dressed a certain way. Thankfully, several men on campus also took issue with her sexist logic: “I was raised to respect women no matter what they are wearing. So, I think women should be able to wear leggings if they want to,” sophomore Steve Ayers told the Observer.
“In my opinion, I would never tell someone else how they can or cannot dress, because that is a personal choice, and it doesn’t affect me,” freshman Kyle Dorshorst said. “So, why should I tell other people what to do?”
Leggings are so ubiquitous, though, that ultimately the protest mostly seemed like business as usual. Notre Dame PhD student Dani Green, a founding member of Irish 4 Reproductive Health, told The Washington Post via Twitter that it had been “a little difficult to tell what was protest and what was everyday legging-wear.” How beautiful. People of all genders: wear your leggings freely—or don’t! The choice is your’s, not Maryann White’s!