I have something to say that may not sit easily with some people, but I've decided to say it anyway. (That's what the Internet is for, isn't it - at its best, it can be about being brave and speaking our truths in a somewhat less confrontational arena than the breathing world).
So what I want to say is this:
The "leggings are not pants" assertion / meme / battlecry that has been infecting Twitter lately really, really bothers me.
I was trying to pin down exactly what I dislike so much about it, and I think I've worked it out.
It's not that a lot of people seem to agree that leggings as pants are not fashionable. This may be a true statement, and as a fashion null zone myself, I am unqualified to comment on it and won't. If the assertion was "leggings as pants are not in fashion", it would not raise my hackles.
It's not that some people simply don't like leggings, and don't find them comfortable. If the assertion was "I don't really like leggings", then what could anyone object to in that? I myself do not really like high heels, but making that statement doesn't imply a universalised condemnation of high heels or other people's wearing of them.
No, what I find so uncomfortable in the "leggings are not pants!" thing is that I cannot see how it is not both deeply classist and a form of thinly-veiled body policing, especially of fat bodies.
Almost all the "leggings are not pants!" rhetoric stems back to one of two ideas: either the body-snarking idea that some bodies shouldn't be displayed or visible in the figure-hugging way that leggings enable; or the classist idea that leggings are somehow "trashy", "poor people's cheap clothes", or, as I saw one person label them, "the marker of a feral". (Don't even get me started on my utter hatred of the term "feral" to describe a human being).
If you subscribe to the view that "leggings are not pants!", on what basis other than disapproval of certain bodies being visible, or distaste at the perceived class marker inherent in this clothing choice, do you sustain this view?
For me, I think, it comes down to this: I want to teach my daughters that all bodies - ALL bodies - are acceptable. That no body should have to be hidden (or indeed displayed). That bodies are the carriers of human beings, each of whom should be treated with dignity no matter how they talk, or what they wear, or how they look to your eyes.
I never want my daughters to look at someone and dismiss them or think less of them because they are wearing leggings without a top covering of some kind. I never want them to feel humiliated by their own clothing choices, to feel judged (I know I cannot prevent this for them entirely, sadly, but I hope to set up a basis whereby they have the foundation to at least see this for what it is).
Ultimately I do not give a fig whether anyone wears leggings (as pants or under dresses) or not. I just wish it was less of a rallying point for people to express their body policing or class issues in a socially sanctioned way.
(Disclaimer - I wear leggings, sometimes, yes, as pants. And I'm fat. And middle class.)
This post is part of NaBloPoMo. 10 down, 20 to go!
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