A CATHOLIC mom has sparked a lively debate in an Indiana University’s student newspaper over the question of women wearing ‘snug-fitting’ leggings.
Under the heading “The Legging Problem” in Notre Dame’s Observer, Maryann White described leggings as “an unforgiving garment” that “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.
I was ashamed for the young women at Mass. I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds. 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. How much more difficult for young guys to ignore them.
Leggings are so naked, so form fitting, so exposing. Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead? Let Notre Dame girls be the first to turn their backs(ides) on leggings. You have every right to wear them. But you have every right to choose not to. Thanks for listening to the lecture. Catholic moms are good at those!
Reaction was swift. Susan shot back:
As a ‘Catholic mother’ of two young women in their 20s, I am exhausted by the instructions and rules and warnings I am constantly having to give my daughters to protect them from your sons. Men and boys need to learn to restrain themselves in the world, to control their impulses, to learn that the world will not be perfectly paved in front of them and may not be ‘legging-free’.
And at the very least, all men need to view women as human beings deserving of respect regardless of any fashion choice a woman decides to choose. Stop blaming women for the thoughts in your head or your perceived thoughts in the heads of others …
And Noelle said:
If you are standing in the presence of Jesus Christ and all you can think about is butts, perhaps the problem lies not with these women’s attire but rather with your inability to focus on what is important …
The only thing that you and I have in common Maryann is that we are both mothers of four boys. I find this to be a privilege to raise the next generation of compassionate men who can navigate the world and act as free thinkers who value others. Yet my message regarding young women’s clothing is quite the opposite of yours.
Women, including myself, my nieces, my 75-year-old mother, should wear whatever the heck they want. We should wear what makes us feel good, strong, smart or pretty. Anyone else’s “discomfort” is not our problem. To my sons, husband, brothers and father, guys, wear whatever the heck you want too. And respect each other, leggings or not.
That’s just three of almost 600 responses to Maryann White’s letter – and most of them strongly disagreed with her.
Soon the “The Legging Problem” migrated to LifeSite, where Canadian writer Dorothy Cummings McLean, above, rushed to support White.
In the beautifully written apologia for women’s dignity, White argues that the world constantly tries to reduce women to ‘babes’, subverting her attempts to teach her sons that women are people worthy of respect.
White believes that by wearing skin-tight leggings and tiny T-shirts, young women are overemphasizing their feminine bottoms, attracting male attention even at church …
Nevertheless, White is unable or unwilling to hide the primary reason she wants girls to cover their bottoms, and that is what has caused the inevitable feminist outcry. White suggests that young women have a responsibility to men not to distract them with their bottoms. I would go even farther and say young women owe young men a gentleness not unrelated to the gentleness men owe them.