Sigh… I am working on a rather epic piece about awesome women with tattoos and candy hair, which I was going to post for you today, but something else has caught my attention and really got my dander up, so I need to talk about that first.
This article went around my tweet stream this morning when I first woke up. It’s title is “Leggings Are Not Pants and Other Values for Your Kids” – and that’s like waving a red flag at a bull to me.
Ok, yep, there are some great values in the piece to pass on to your kids, on the issues of same sex marriage (even if it is called “gay marriage” in this piece, which is problematic in itself), refugees, drink driving, environmental issues and sun smarts. Sure, those are fantastic things to teach your kids. But claiming you’re a feminist and sitting your 5 year old down for “the talk” about how leggings are not pants?
For fuck’s sake, are we still doing this?
Look, I know, I should have learned by now not to expect better from Mia Freedman, but I keep hoping that she’s listening, that people around her are helping her open her mind. I know it’s supposed to be a joke, ha ha, leggings are not pants is as important as the other issues, how funny.
Only it’s not funny. It’s body policing. It’s classist, ableist, judgemental bullshit wrapped up in a fluff piece for a highly visible online women’s magazine.
I’ve talked before about how what other people wear is nobody’s business but their own. Yeah I know, sometimes we have to work around that a bit, when it’s in the workplace, someone else’s home or event, or for safety reasons. That’s part of negotiating being a decent human being. But when it comes to getting all snarky about what other random people are wearing as they go about their lives, it’s none of our damn business.
So what if someone is wearing pajama pants at the grocery store, or has leggings on with a short top, or wears thongs to the office. That’s their choice and their business. How does it affect us as people around them? If it offends ones eyes, don’t look. Look at someone else. Nobody says you have to wear the same things as them, and do you know what? They’re not wearing those pj’s or leggings for YOU. They’re wearing them because they want to or need to.
However, that’s not the really offensive part.
What is ignored that people wear leggings (or a lot of other things really) for a whole lot more reasons than how they look. Let’s think about it.
Leggings are cheap. You can pick them up from Best & Less for $10, less if they’re on sale. If you have a very limited clothing budget, then leggings are going to be good value for money.
Leggings are often seen as “tarty” or “cheap”. This is about slut shaming, policing women’s sexuality and how they clothe their own bodies.
Leggings are one of the few items of clothing that can ALWAYS be found to fit all sized bodies. If you have a limited range of clothing options because of your size, leggings may be the only option you have.
Leggings are stretchy and have lots of give to fit any body shape. Short or long legs, high or low waisted, thick or thin legs, no matter what the shape or size of your legs, thighs, knees, feet, ankles etc – most people can get leggings to fit them.
Leggings are far more accommodating to weight changes. Leggings are forgiving when someone has lost or gained weight and can be worn easier if they’re not quite the correct size.
Leggings are soft, stretchy fabric. They’re gentle against skin (particularly if it is tender or sore) and generally breathe pretty well.
Leggings have no buttons, zippers, hooks, clasps, ties or any other fiddly bits. They can be pulled on by someone with reduced mobility, arthritis, reduced motor skills or low energy, and don’t have to be fastened or adjusted once on. Pull ‘em up, pull ‘em down.
Leggings also allow other people to dress someone with relative ease. If someone needs assistance dressing, leggings can be a good no-fuss option.
Leggings are flexible to bodies. If someone is in a wheelchair, on crutches or a scooter, or has a body shape outside the norm, or perhaps wears incontinence pants or other medical aids, leggings may fit those things better than pants made of heavier, more structured fabrics and designs.
These are just a few reasons that we cannot just put down blanket rules on other people’s clothing choices without thinking about the implications of this kind of judgement. When we see someone in our day who is wearing something that we don’t approve of, we have no idea why they are wearing them, and it’s not any of our business anyway. And to call oneself a feminist while engaging in this kind of judgemental wardrobe snark is just bullshit.
Look, I will admit, there was a time that I used to buy into this sort of stuff too. Mostly because I hated my own body and it was a twisted form of self policing, but we’ve been talking about this stuff for a long time and I get it now. Ages ago I was challenged by some awesome people about my thinking about the whole leggings as pants (and a lot of other things about judging the clothes other people wear) and I came to realise that it was so pointless and kind of douchey of me to be doing it. Not only did I cut the people around me some slack about what they wear, but I became a whole lot more adventurous and bold in what I wear.
So now I am a proud leggings as pants wearing radical fat feminist.