Ah, “leggings aren’t pants” has been around for quite a while now. Leggings weren’t quite the hot button issue they are now when I was younger but they’ve slowly become much more ubiquitous, especially since I became a mother six years ago. Or maybe that’s just when I started paying attention because #leggingsforlife, right?
Ever since they became a “thing” in popular culture, there’s been the debate. Are leggings pants? Should you make sure your buns are covered with a long shirt or that you’re wearing undies that won’t show a pantyline? Why do we police what others are wearing so much? Let’s chat.
First off, right out of the gate. What are pants? Generally they have two leg holes and you pull them up and they sit around your hips. I mean, envision some pants. Google it if necessary. So, by definition, leggings are pants. But obviously there’s more to this issue than just definitions.
Second argument? They’re too revealing. Too tight. Show. Too. Much. How dare you show your body’s shape. I don’t think I need to tell you that this argument is a total load of crap. You do not need to be ashamed of your body’s shape. You have a booty. You have some kind of something in your crotch. I don’t know your body, but I do know that if you want to wear leggings, you should. You don’t need to hide. You don’t even actually need those super thin, seamless panties that cost $18 each just to hide the fact that you’re wearing underwear. NEWSFLASH WORLD. Many people wear underpants, this isn’t weird.
Alright, that’s my facetiousness out of the way. Here’s what I really wanted to say. Saying that leggings aren’t pants is ableist and we all need to stop regardless.
Women are usually the ones wearing leggings so I’m going to focus on women’s clothing for a bit. Please note that I fully support men and anyone else wearing leggings because gendered clothing is silly and it doesn’t even matter who is wearing them but I digress.
Women’s clothing is uncomfortable. It’s impractical, you can’t move in it, most of it doesn’t even have functional pockets. It’s reaching some absurd levels honestly. I started wearing leggings in earnest after I became a mom because they’re functional. I can move. I can bend without my booty popping out for a visit with the other moms at the park. Who remembers bending down in high school and then standing up and having to hoist your jeans back up by the belt loops. Be honest, I am not the only one. I saw you all do the same thing!
Even with comfort aside, leggings are supremely practical for people with disabilities. If you’re sitting in a wheelchair a lot, maybe you want something comfy to be in that doesn’t involve buttons digging into your belly. Maybe you want something easy to adjust or to get off and on. If you have mobility issues, maybe you don’t need restrictive denim on top of that. For me, I find the compression of leggings to be very helpful in supporting my joints and the softness a lot better than denim on my fragile EDS skin. They’re also a lot better if I’m in a flare and sitting on the couch in severe pain all day.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and clothing policing has a lot to do with body policing. Do you remember What Not To Wear? I loved it so much. But as I got older, I realized that shoving everyone into the same clothing box is really terrible. Just because I’m curvy doesn’t mean I want to hide my body or camouflage certain bits. I don’t need to highlight this and solve that. I need to wear what’s best for me and what makes me feel comfortable and fits my body best in the way that makes me feel best.
So what’s the solution to this problem? It’s simply yet another example of policing other people’s bodies and prescribing random standards that hold some back. Even if you’re not disabled, you deserve to dress your body comfortably. So the solution is to tell anyone who says that leggings aren’t pants to stop being an ableist jackass. People can wear what they want. People can wear what’s best for their body. That’s it.