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fashion : leggings are not the devil

I’ve noticed a trend lately of people lambasting the practice of wearing leggings as pants. There are articles reviling leggings as the last relic of truly bad fashion; arguing that people who wear leggings as pants suffer from some form of chronic laziness; and suggesting that there is something fundamentally wrong with the concept of wearing clothes entirely for comfort, rather than for the pleasure of other people’s viewing.

To these naysayers, I say – seriously, who really cares?

Why is it that people find leggings to be such an offensive item of clothing? Sure, I can see how they might be unflattering by conventional standards – they’re incredibly form-fitting, they’re kind of boring to look at, and unless you’re completely waif-like, your every curve will be on display (though why that has to be a bad thing is beyond me). But what does it really matter if individuals choose to wear clothing that may not reflect the most ‘flattering’ aspects of their body? Why are women (because it is women writing these articles), so hell-bent on upholding these bizarre, restrictive norms of what is and is not ‘appropriate’ clothing to be worn in public?

I think this attitude reflects the deeper pressure women feel to always look their ‘best’ – and in this context, ‘best’ means skinny, smooth, firm, and without an ounce of flab, or jiggle, or bounce anywhere. Leggings are a girl’s worst enemy if this is the look she’s going for, but it’s the aim of adhering to such stereotypical perfections that really bothers me.

When I see a girl wearing leggings and wandering down the street, I don’t feel disgust and annoyance at her lack of propriety. I recognise that she must be fairly comfortable with herself, and then I move on with my life.

When discussing this topic with my sisters recently (perhaps because I was wearing gym leggings at the time), they both reacted with a fair amount of revulsion at the trend in general. “It’s disgusting,” one said. “I shouldn’t have to look at that.”

Now, I’m not against critiquing fashion in general – I often comment both internally and out loud when I think that someone’s particular choice of clothing is not to my taste, but I would never say that it was ‘disgusting’ or that they shouldn’t wear it. I’m aware that my opinion is based entirely on my own particular fashion taste, and that many people probably look at me and raise their eyebrows in disdain. But we all get to have personal taste, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

My issue with people criticising leggings as pants is more down to the fact that the criticisms aren’t about the item of clothing – they’re about women’s bodies, and what they should or shouldn’t look like. I’m yet to see someone look at a size 8 girl wearing leggings and a t-shirt, and say “Oh my god, that’s hideous – doesn’t she know what she looks like?” And yet I regularly hear people criticising size 12 or 14 girls for looking ‘gross’ in their leggings, when they seem to be completely comfortable in them. The implication is that the leggings are ok – it’s the legs that people are taking an issue with and they’re so much more visible in leggings than a pair of jeans.

Leggings are inoffensive items of clothing – they’re usually black, plain and have very few identifiable qualities. Perhaps next time you consider making a comment about a girl’s clothing, consider what you’re actually criticising.

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4 thoughts on “fashion : leggings are not the devil

  1. I don’t have a problem with leggings as pants. Leggings were a staple in my wardrobe throughout the 90s, usually worn with a flannie.

    My objection lies with people who can’t tell the difference between leggings and tights. If people can see your underwear through the outer fabric, you’re not wearing leggings. Go home and finish getting dressed.

  2. As someone who works with young women, who are at the skinniest, perkiest and firmest they will every be, I can say hand-to-heart my issue is with the garment. Not all leggings are equal!
    I have some wonderful running “tights” which I love to death, and they serve a purpose. I would not wear these to work.
    I have seen many professional young women (of various size) in work-appropriate (opaque) leggings. All good. Wearing these is not my bag but whatever floats your boat.
    I also own a couple of pairs of generic cotton on leggings, which work well when an extra layer is needed under a dress or skirt. I wear these a lot, but would never wear them without something tunic length over the top because they are cheap and see-through at points of stretch (i.e. my butt).
    All ladies, of all sizes, should feel free to wear what they like. However, I think there is a problem with wearing undergarments as outer-garments when at work, school or another professional setting.

    And I absolutely agree with your arguments against women’s bodies being treated as public property, and being criticised for not meeting some sort of social standard. Mind you, as someone who has been (medically) both over and under weight, I never get hassled more about my body than when slim. And have recently been told I look “disgusting” at a comfortable (and medically healthy) size 10.

    And that’s my two-cents :)

  3. I completely agree with you, Zoya. Really, I could not care less about what other women wear or how they wear it, unless it’s to think, “Damn, I want that.” I consider any other kind of thinking a waste of time and energy. I’m not 100% perfect and I do slip up from time to time, but once I started being less critical of others, I was a lot happier. And stopped being so critical of myself too.

    And if we want to get very technical — they are pants!

  4. ‘My issue with people criticising leggings as pants is more down to the fact that the criticisms aren’t about the item of clothing – they’re about women’s bodies, and what they should or shouldn’t look like. I’m yet to see someone look at a size 8 girl wearing leggings and a t-shirt, and say “Oh my god, that’s hideous – doesn’t she know what she looks like?”’

    You’ve hit the nail on the head.

    Meanwhile, I’ve been known to flaunt my plain black Target brand leggings in the workplace. And on special occasions, I’ll even dress them up with a pair of black rubber thongs. I’m all class, I know.

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