Friday, February 1, 2013

Leggings are not pants

There, I said it.  I've been wanting to say it for ages.  Of course, I've said it in conversations, but I don't know that I've said it online.  "Leggings are not pants."

Back when I was a girl, we had things called "tights" that were never to be called pants.  Funny thing is, they're almost the same as leggings, though leggings are a bit thicker.  Still, the same "body definition" is there.  You can see everything.  Every random person who walks by can see everything that they're not supposed to see, that they should not be permitted to see.  Every random person who walks by is invited to enter the mystery of your body ... even if they know nothing about you.

I've heard that leggings and yoga pants and all of these sorts of spandex creations are incredibly comfortable.  That's great.  But comfort isn't the only standard for clothing.  Let's not forget Pope Benedict's favorite line -- "You were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness."

Really, aren't leggings still comfortable if they're worn with a (at least close to) knee-length dress?  Does the extra fabric spoil the comfort?

But even if it did, the funny thing is that women often respond to men's request to not dress in a revealing way with something like this -- "You don't have to look."  Or, "You need to have control over your eyes/imagination."

Do we women expect that men should exercise control, sacrifice and effort, while we lounge around in comfortable leggings, doing as we please, wearing what we please and placing all responsibility on them?

It really is an irony that some men tell women it's their responsibility to dress modestly, while women respond that it's the man's responsibility to control his look and his thoughts.

Isn't it both?  

Shouldn't we, as women, strive to dress in a way that veils the incredible mystery of femininity?  Shouldn't we be willing to sacrifice a small measure of "comfort" in order to present ourselves as women, as human persons, in all of the entirety of who we are?  Aren't we capable of respecting men by seeing them as persons worthy of love and respect by dressing as women who are persons worthy of love and respect?

This isn't one sided.  Men, also, are called to a self-control of not looking at women who are (perhaps unwittingly) revealing their bodies to any passerby.  But it's not always possible to not look.  There are billboards and unexpected commercials and even conversations with friends or strangers.  So, there's also a call to self-control in thought and imagination.  Men are called to a heroic love and respect of women by seeing them as persons, even when women do not realize their dignity as persons.  

It goes both ways, but as a woman I am more qualified to speak on behalf of women with a challenge -- Why wear leggings as pants?  Is there any good reason besides "comfort" to stroll the sidewalk with nothing more than thick tights and a short shirt?

Isn't it more appealing to appear as a mystery -- not as a matter of superiority or cockiness -- but rather as an invitation to others to see us in the full beauty of femininity, rather than the limiting vision of the lower half of a body walking down the street?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well said! I am in complete agreement with you Emily. Thanks for saying this so beautifully! -Michelle K.