Mom sparks angry backlash over letter imploring college girls not to wear leggings
A letter penned by a mother concerned by the number of women wearing leggings at the university campus of Notre Dame & Saint Mary's, Indiana, has sparked furore and ignited discussion about the policing of women's bodies on social media.
"I'm just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings," Maryann White began in the letter which was published in the "Letter to the Editor" section of the student newspaper.
"Last fall, they obtruded painfully on my landscape. I was at Mass at the Basilica with my family. In front of us was a group of young women, all wearing very snug-fitting leggings and all wearing short-waisted tops (so that the lower body was uncovered except for the leggings). Some of them truly looked as though the leggings had been painted on them," she continued.
White went onto say that this made it "difficult for young guys to ignore";
"My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not). They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable."
I’ve heard women say that they like leggings because they’re “comfortable.” So are pajamas. So is nakedness. And the human body is a beautiful thing. But we don’t go around naked because we respect ourselves — we want to be seen as a person, not a body."
"We don’t go naked because we respect the other people who must see us, whether they would or not. These are not just my sons — they’re the fathers and brothers of your friends, the male students in your classes, the men of every variety who visit campus. I’m fretting both because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you. For the Catholic mothers who want to find a blanket to lovingly cover your nakedness and protect you — and to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from you!"
The mother concluded by imploring women to "think of the mothers of sons" the next time they go shopping, and to "consider choosing jeans instead".
The letter promptly sparked a backlash on social media, with students arguing that women should be free to wear what they want, and without judgement.
A student group, Irish 4 Reproductive Health, organised Leggings Pride Day in response to the letter, which encouraged people of all genders to wear their leggings proudly on campus.
And a number of students took to social media to share photos of themselves wearing leggings as part of the protest:
Ultimately, leggings are so ubiquitous a sartorial choice, that the protest didn't create as big a stir as intended. Dani Green, a founding member of Irish 4 Reproductive Health, later tweeted that it had been "A little difficult to tell what was protest and what was everyday legging-wear."
Go henceforth and wear your leggings with pride, ladies.