It Was Never About The Leggings

A mother’s open letter to a Notre Dame’s university newspaper caused a stir recently. The mom pleads for the young women on campus to “think of the mothers of sons the next time [they] go shopping.” (Cue the pearl-clutching.) She suggests choosing jeans instead. The letter writer was critical of the yoga pants and crop tops favored by the collegiate women attending a campus mass. This mom felt leggings are inappropriate not just at church, but anywhere men were present.

As a person who is more familiar with yoga pants and leggings than most, I feel like I need to jump in here. I buy and forecast them daily as I am in the industry. I’m also a mom who owns 32 pairs, and I dress my young daughter in leggings almost daily due to the simple ease of them. The “athleisure” market is doing double digit growth, and from a professional standpoint I don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon. Yoga pants are comfortable, sensible and flattering. I thank the yoga pant gods every time I do my mom squat to pick up my kid and don’t have to adjust my pants when I stand back up.

If they could design a pair that were dog hair resistant, I would burn all my jeans.

The issue here is not what girls are wearing to Mass, or anywhere else for that matter. The issue is that people are not teaching their children how to be respectful of others and their choices, even if they are not ones we agree with. She states “I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve.” I’m sorry…what???? It is not our job as women to be responsible for others not being able to control themselves. People are raising their young boys to blame their inappropriate thoughts or behavior on what someone is wearing. Isn’t that terrifying? How can anyone blame someone else’s PANTS for making them do something? These statements are also unfair to men as a whole as it gives the impression that they are incapable of controlling themselves. I went to a religious school where leggings was prohibited, and can tell you that even a dress code doesn’t help. It’s adorable she thinks different clothing will stop boys from looking at girls in a “that” way.

Am I saying that people should wear skimpy outfits or workout clothes to mass? No. But there is a time and place for certain types of clothes out of respect for the situation. While I understand that most religious services are becoming a lot more relaxed in many ways, I personally wouldn’t wear gym clothes to Mass. My choice, however, is not out of concern that men will be staring at my goods the entire service. It’s a choice based on how I was raised to dress for church.

I do plan on raising my daughter with an understanding of what types of clothing I feel are appropriate for certain situations; that is part of my job as a parent.

I also plan on giving her a strong sense of confidence to love herself and rock what she’s given. If she feels like wearing a little crop top, so be it. I’ll even go shopping for her for it and tell her how cute and confident she looks. But at the end of the day she will hopefully have an understanding of what outfits are appropriate for an elevated situation, such as a job interview. I can certainly say that I will NEVER tell her she cannot wear something because I am concerned about how it may make another person behave around her. She should be free of that fear.

It all boils down to respect. Respect for other people, respect for your environment and respect for a person’s situation. But at the end of the day, most importantly there needs to be a respect for the fact that the only person that can control someone is themselves.

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