Leggings have a deep, and rich, history, spanning back to the 14th century. Of course, they were mostly worn by men in Scotland then, composed of either leather or chainmail, but the trend is still alive and thriving. Audrey Hepburn made leggings her own during the 1950s in the movie Sabrina. In the ’70s, everyone’s favorite stars, from Olivia Newton-John in Grease to the girls of Charlie’s Angels, rocked a pair of disco pants. In the ’90s the fad started to fade; however, it came back with a vengeance in the 2000s.
In current years, leggings are simply a part of a person’s wardrobe, be it casual, workout, professional — or even cocktail.
But one Notre Dame mother is asking when do leggings take it too far? She shares, in an open letter, “I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings.”
The mother, self-identified as Maryann White, writes, “The emergence of leggings as pants some years ago baffled me. They’re such an unforgiving garment.” She lists last fall as when they landed on her radar and wonders “why no one thinks it’s strange that the fashion industry has caused women to voluntarily expose their nether regions in this way.” She adds that “leggings are so naked” and “so exposing.”
The mother writes that such fashion, depicted in movies, video games, and music videos, “makes it hard on Catholic mothers to teach their sons that women are someone’s daughters and sisters. That women should be viewed first as people — and all people should be considered with respect.”
And she isn’t wrong. Of course, women should be treated as equals, regardless if she is someone’s daughter or sister. But some feel that White’s post is problematic — playing into ‘victim-blaming’ a woman because of how she’s dressed — and even organized a “Leggings Pride Day” event on March 26.
“While well-intentioned, White’s viewpoint perpetuates a narrative central to rape culture in implying that womxn [sic] and girls are responsible for the actions and reactions of others,” organizers posted on Facebook. “She argues that ‘girls’ at Notre Dame ought to change the way they dress to avoid attention from ‘unsavory guys who are looking at [people who wear leggings] creepily’ and in order to protect ‘nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking’ at people wearing leggings.”
“We wanted … to remind people that leggings are absolutely OK, and you’re allowed to dress your body in whatever way you see fit,” Anne Jarrett, an organizer of the protest, told TODAY Style.
Dani Green, a PhD candidate at Norte Dame, showed her support for leggings by tweeting a photo of herself wearing them on “Leggings Pride Day.”
— Dani Green (@danigreen41) March 26, 2019
White shared that grown women can turn their backs to her leggings warning. “Let Notre Dame girls be the first to turn their backs(ides) on leggings,” White wrote. “You have every right to wear them. But you have every right to choose not to. Thanks for listening to the lecture. Catholic moms are good at those!”