This morning, I took an unexpectedly delightful trip down the Great Leggings Debate rabbit hole. I might have swapped sides a few months ago, but 2 weeks ago was the clincher. One of my moms asked for Christmas gift ideas for our family. I knew this request was coming, and thanks to the notes app, I was going to be ready. (I was ready, but still inexplicably neglected to answer the request for an exceptionally long period of time! (Sorry MS!)) I had created a wishlist a long time ago, and whenever a valid, approved, viable wish arose, I’d plop it on the list. Here’s mine:
I actually put leggings on my Christmas list. It’s funny! This is something I want, but have not yet bought for myself = good gift! Admittedly, as I placed the word “leggings” on my wishlist, I felt tremendous ambivalence. I felt like a hypocrite. I have internally railed against the resurrection of leggings since I saw my aunt (yes, my aunt!), who is decidedly more fashionable than I am, sporting them back in…. 2009. But my railing, I have come to see, both concealed and exposed my bend toward jealousy. I just never thought I could pull it off, and preferred to dodge the self-consciousness I imagined would naturally result from walking about in the equivalent of a leotard-for-your-legs.
Look, I have never claimed to be fashionable. I spent a year in college wearing almost entirely men’s clothing. I decided it was less painful to purchase men’s pants with their clear demarcation of one’s dimensions and proportions (W:34, L:30) than to attempt to navigate the ambiguity of women’s sizes. My body changed that year. I didn’t gain the freshman 15. I gained the sophomore 30… okay 40. It was traumatic to navigate women’s clothing, with one store’s 10 fitting like a 8 or 12 in another, and boutique sizing that allows big spenders to delude themselves into thinking they fit into a size (ideal # here). Ugh!
Add to my jealousy a pinch of slut-shaming thrown in for good measure, and you get a grown woman with strong ideas about the inappropriateness of dressing in leggings outside of the gym or home. There was some taboo rule I ingested sometime during the hyper-religious phase of my spiritual development, that layered feelings of guilt and shame upon anything that came within 100 thoughts of being alluring, evocative or sexual. I can’t blame the religious people in my life entirely, they were actually pretty cool about things. I just had this confluence of trauma, religion, and a deep discomfort with ambiguous or gray areas of the moral code. I now chalk this up to a necessary developmental milestone of spiritual development. (More on that (perhaps) another time.)
But jealousy and slut-shaming are antithetical to many of my feminist and Christian ideals (see Luke 7:36-50), so yes, I have come around. Last year, I ventured into the legging-wearing club for what I believed would be a temporary trip, and with pregnancy offering a good excuse. Post-pregnancy, and now again in what I have come to know as my normal shape, I miss feeling free to wear super-comfy stretchy pants and call it good. Well, that can be easily remedied. I will not covet your ability to pull it off, or assume you wanted everyone see every curve (or dimple) of your lycra-covered tush. I will celebrate that you have the self-confidence and freedom to rock those leggings without shame. And I will join the fashion ranks of legging-wearing-feminists, a few years late, and complimented with a long shirt, skirt, or otherwise fanny-covering overlay.