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.