Let’s Talk About The Appropriateness Of Leggings

People posting shaming pictures of women on social media sites isn’t new. Hell, along with kitten videos and political commentary, they are the backbone of the internet.

I did a podcast for Genneve.Β  I wrote about the events leading up to the taping of the podcast. I’ve listened to this twice now and I think I’m done. It drives me crazy. Oh, make sure you listen for the sound of my squeaky chair as I am incapable of sitting still. Ever. Anyway, one of the things I spoke about was women wearing leggings.

I don’t think I said enough about the leggings thing.

The reason I don’t think I said enough about the leggings thing is because women wearing leggings is often one of the following: the topic of conversation, the subject of a Facebook meme, the subject of an article, or the reason your local pearl-clutcher is in a tizzy.

I am working at letting go of thought patterns or behaviors that feed into the accepted misogyny that we’ve lived with since forever. I see cracks in the misogyny armor. I do. I also see the ways I contribute to misogyny. I am positive I’m not finished learning about my behaviors and beliefs that need to be examined and changed.

Anyway, we love to hate on women wearing leggings.

I will admit that I do not understand the flesh colored ones. I am not saying you shouldn’t wear them. That is not my call. I am just saying wearing flesh colored leggings would be akin to living out the “out in public naked” anxiety dream.

Maybe, that’s the point? I’m not sure. I am just going to continue not wearing them. I am also going to continue to try to not give flesh colored leggings the side eye.

And if I don’t? Totally, doesn’t matter. I still get no say in another woman’s decision to adorn her body in the manner of her choosing. And if I feel I do have a good reason to denigrate another human based on what they have adorned themselves with, then I must consider that I am being an asshole.

We’re better than being ugly to each other. It’s hard, sometimes, to recognize when we’re being assholes. I mean, we are dealing with decades of conditioning.

So, because I love you all, I have developed a guide for you. This guide will demonstrate the proper way to use leggings as well as identify ways that leggings should not be used.

Ways to inappropriately use leggings:

  • Storing raw chicken
  • Wearing them as a hat
  • As an effective sling shot
  • Something to stuff with rocks so you can weigh a body down
  • As a Christmas gift for your male boss
  • As a burnt offering to a pagan god

Ways for younger women to appropriately use leggings:

  • To cover their ass and legs

Ways for women over age 50 to appropriately use leggings:

  • To cover their ass and legs

There you have it. If leggings are being worn as a way to cover nakedness, then the person wearing the leggings are using them correctly! No need to have an opinion about it!

Also, I’m not sure if I’m right about not using them as a way to weigh a body down. They might work. I would think cinder blocks and chains would work better, but what do I know?


Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. emelle says:

    Fuckin’ A!

    I mean, um, yeah. Damn right. Wear that shit to cover your ass and legs. Do Not store raw chicken in ’em!

    I love the one pair of leggings I own. They are black, and they go with everything I pair with them. I especially like how well they cover my ass and legs. I need, I think, a bright, neon pink/purple combo that will go with nothing else I own and will therefore be worn on my topless days. Well, no, actually bright, neon pink/purple leggings would still go with everything I own, for reasons.

  2. Actually, leggings CAN be worn as a hat! Sort of…Hattitude uses donated, defective LuLaRoe leggings to make beautiful head wraps for cancer patients. πŸ™‚

  3. I remember there being a debate about leggings when I was in high school. Holy shit, that was thirty years ago. It was small. Maybe it would have been bigger if we’d had Facebook back then. Some girls wore skirts with leggings underneath. A friend of mine had a frilly black miniskirt and she wore black leggings with it which I thought made a nice ensemble, but a lot of adults, including her mother, told her it looked stupid.
    The only thing worse than people telling her it looked stupid was guys who thought it was not only appropriate but funny to come up behind a girl wearing a skirt and leggings and lift her skirt, which was a super-level of assholishness.
    If women have decided to dispense with the skirt it’s not my concern. After all I’ve worn leggings myself. I turned a pair of leggings into a superhero mask. That might be the only way to wear them wrong because I couldn’t see a damn thing.

  4. Harry says:

    This seems like good advice. I’d like to believe that I am not stuck in a mode where I criticize the looks and style choices of those I see around me, but it might just be because I am not overly conscious of my surroundings.

    • Michelle says:

      I am often unaware. But not always. I’m learning to keep my comments to myself. I mean, I can’t help but form an opinion..I’m human..but I don’t have to talk shit about people.

  5. Jackie Browning says:

    I bought a pair of pale rose colored leggings and wore them to work with a long darker rose shirt. Thought I looked pretty good until after all the sideway glances I received my co-worker said that from a distance it looked like I had no pants on! πŸ™‚ For sale: one pair of rose colored leggings.

  6. Haralee says:

    I keep reading the paper and listening to the TV news to see when criminals are going to discover the pantyhose mask of this generation ! Cut a couple of holes for mouth and nose and it is the perfect use of leggings to rob a bank, ATM, etc. What is wrong with this generation?

  7. BarbaraM says:

    I hate showing my age/ignorance, but I have to ask – what’s the difference between leggings and tights (footless). I had several pair of “dance” tights that had no feet, that I assume are now leggings. Is it just the terminology that has changed or maybe the material and thickness? I’ve seen jeggings and while tempted, have legs like hockey sticks – so making people look at these pencils with feet is not on my list of “look at me” attributes.

    • Michelle says:

      Haha. I don’t know the difference. I don’t think there is one.

      • Ooh, I actually know this! Tights are knit as a piece, much like hose or stockings, and can vary in thickness (I’ve got some upstairs that are very thick and warm and others that are not much thicker that hose but they’re colorful). Leggings are cut from a knit fabric, though generally a very lightweight one, and therefore have seams like any other pants-type-garment.

        Also, leggings (should) never sheer out, no matter how far they’re stretched (and, indeed, shouldn’t stretch nearly as far as tights) but tights frequently will, if stretched far enough (and they are made to stretch much farther, due to the material and tension of the knit). But mostly it’s the seamed vs. knit issue.

  8. Cathy says:

    Thank you! I love my leggings, even though I am old and not particularly small. I love them with long sweaters, and tunics and skirts. And, as long as my legs and ass are covered, I can ignore the side-eye I get every now and then. Hint for LulaRoe fans: check out Amazon. They have cute, good quality leggings for half the price. I wear one or the other nearly every day.

    • Michelle says:

      I am right there with you! I love them. I do wear a tunic with them because I’m not comfortable with something so form fitting, but that is just me.

  9. Liv says:

    From what I understand, there are certain unnamed purveyors of leggings that would not be useful for the body thing as they tear with just normal use and would clearly be shredded if used for that purpose. But otherwise agreed with all of the above.

  10. Jenn says:

    I love my leggings. I can wear them with a long sweater and boots, and don’t have to deal with figuring out how to artfully fold and wrap them around my legs so they fit into my boots (and don’t cause random pressure points that make me to lose circulation to my feet). I also love my yoga pants, which I guess are like leggings, but “bell bottom” leggings, right? I tell people they are my nod to the polyester pantsuits my grandma used to wear! I don’t know about anyone else, but I definitely feel better at work when I am comfy, as opposed to trying to pull up the crotch of my pantyhose so they don’t chafe my thighs, without causing a run. Skills, I tell ya!!!
    P.S. I listened to your podcast and thought you were great. You did not say “umm” anymore than your host, and she was pretty good at slamming a bunch of “you know’s” into one sentence with just a single word between them to break them up. AND the only reason I was micro-listening was because you were so anxious about it. Seriously – I would not have picked up on any of it. You were awesome!

  11. mydangblog says:

    I find leggings to be just about the most comfortable thing to possibly wear. I hate panty hose with a passion, but have been able to start wearing dresses again with footless tights. I draw the line at wearing tight leggings without something on top that goes to the top of my thighs, only because my butt gets cold!

    • Michelle says:

      I am with you on the pantyhose. The last time I wore a pair was over ten years ago at my stepdaughter’s wedding. I have since sworn them off for life.

  12. Amen, sistah. You brilliantly articulated leggings’ purpose: to cover ass and legs. And when worn with a loose top that covers the midsection and said ass, they also allow your belly to surreptitiously expand as much as it wants to (unlike pants with a too-tight waist).

  13. Lisa K says:

    First off: Brilliant interview!! I am unable to speak unscripted like that. Period… not enough ‘and um’s’ in the world to gap the space between my brain and my mouth.
    You, on the other hand, not only paused appropriately, but listened to what she was asking. I tend to go off on my own… in my head, at a meeting and definitely in one on one conversations… and end up forgetting why I was even talking.
    I think you should take your own advice, but make it pertain to speaking and what you sound like, instead of what you look like πŸ˜‰
    I pictured you sitting at a cafe table, sipping your coffee while this delightful woman asked you about surviving life and buoying others up along with you for the ride.
    I would love to get that chance with you! (but I promise not to record it so we can say fuck whenever we want πŸ™‚ )
    And, lastly….. I’ve been looking at the patterned leggings with longing… peacocks, jaguars, paisleys….

  14. People Who Wear Things: Yes, I might sometimes startle or accidentally side-eye. But! Just as often I’m amazed at your daring, your ability to wear the thing, your fierceness, or the shiny thing itself, because my brain is full of ferrets. And when I am petty enough to think “If I had wrists like that I would never wear short sleeves” I promise you, the universe quickly presents me with a reflective surface right about ass-level so I can see my glass house. (That doesn’t make my earlier pettiness okay, but it might make you feel better knowing karma is literally twelve feet ahead of me.)

    But yeah, I really don’t get what everyone’s* big deal is with the leggings. They’re comfortable, breathable, versatile… do people just need something to be pissy about? Because if you’re that hard-up for clothing issues to bitch about, can we please talk about scratchy tags?
    (* not everyone’s)

  15. Renee says:

    As long as there is something else covering your ass besides the leggings you are good to go and no side ways glance from me…a shirt, a sweater, any kind of top that goes down past your butt, no matter how cute or sassy it is..that is what should be sold with said leggings…and no nude leggings should even be sold…anywhere…

    • Michelle says:

      I always have my butt covered by a tunic when I wear them, but I seen loads of people who don’t. I’m trying to not judge that at all as it is there choice. I’m kind of envious that they can wear them without being self conscious

  16. Tamara says:

    My 12-year old son would disagree with you. They make very good sling-shots!

  17. Doug in Oakland says:

    OK, I listened to the podcast and… No, I didn’t hear your chair squeak, didn’t think you said “um” too many times, and… I’m so goddamn proud of the things that you said I don’t know what to say.
    Leggings. I live in the Bay Area. I know a guy who wears them. Two, actually, but I haven’t seen one of them for a year or so, so I don’t know if he still wears them. The last ones I saw him in were yellow and green horizontal stripes.
    Put me in the “who fucking cares” column, for the most part, but I do agree that the flesh-colored ones are distracting.
    I don’t know if leggings would work as well, but I used to use my mom’s old panty hose over the top of the air box on my race bike (with a little WD-40) to keep the water out. They worked really well, and since it rains all of the damn time where I grew up, they were kind of a secret weapon in competition…

  18. That was a podcast you did on a day that you didn’t really feel prepared? Wow. Not really prepared you is awesome!

    I love the when it’s okay to wear leggings rules. Nice and easy–even I can remember them

    The weather here has been great. So there have been a lot of shirtless guys outside. Even though many of them are not hot young model material, I don’t see people pointing or laughing or snickering at them. I am sure it happens but I doubt it’s as often. In fact I can pretty much guarantee that at least a few of those same guys would have the women in leggings double standard. Just more to think about.


  19. stef says:

    hahahahaaaa omg girl. I wear leggings every day of my life. Every. Day. Including right now.

    That is not to say I don’t have definite opinions about them being worn as everyday “out-and-about” clothing by everyone else who has ever been born, but that’s another story. And I kind of am a total jerk about my “leggings aren’t pants opinion”.

    0_0 ummm

    Actually, *most* of my super-helpful opinions are pretty jerky, not even gonna lie… lol


    • Michelle says:

      Oh trust me, I have all KINDS of opinions. We’re human. I’m just trying to keep them to myself if they are mean or not helpful or judgy about things that really don’t affect me in any way.

  20. Well said! πŸ˜€ Reminds me of the nasty comments made about Amy Poehler’s In Style swimming cover by a swimsuit designer who said “Not everyone should be in a swimsuit”. My first thought after reading about that was “Anybody who wants to go swimming should be in a swimsuit. End of story.”

  21. Joy Kay says:

    I just splurged and bought myself a pair of LuLaRoe leggings so you really got me giggling with this one Michelle!
    My new leggings are bright purple with vivid flowers all over them. As big as I am, I am gonna look like a big goddamn field of happy!
    And if anyone wants to judge me, well yippee for them. If they get half as much pleasure judging as I do wearing them, well then everybody wins! As Bette Midler said so eloquently “Fuck em if they can’t take a yolk.”

  22. I am a great lover of leggings (so much more comfy than jeans now days!) but I still hold to the belief that my butt should be artfully draped and not hanging out for all to gaze upon. So I wear them how I like around the house but when in public I try to have a longer line top with them to keep some of my “girly” parts to myself πŸ™‚

  23. Spiked Lee says:

    <3 !
    I wear leggings all the time! Favorite: with fancy hiking boots and a dress or long shirt. I also wear them with dress boots, or with sandals if it is warm enough. The I can take the leggings off as the day warms up. Patterned, cable-knit, plain. I am not young and am not thin. In the winter, a pair of fleece-lined leggings is more comfy and warmer than pants. It gets COLD here. Yes, I have worn them to the office. I, personally, can't go out without my butt covered, but that is my own insecurity, not a comment on anyone else.
    ("Nude" anything is always odious and not the color of my skin, or most other people's skin, in way).

    • Michelle says:

      I wear them to my office as well. In fact, I am wearing a pair today. I am certain some people might have an opinion about it, but as long as they keep it to themselves, then it doesn’t exist for me.

  24. Spiked Lee says:

    PS I just listened to the podcast, sounded great!

  25. Denise says:

    I am lucky enough to be on a small surf island in Fiji right now. The new thing with the little itty bitty girls is wearing their Lululemons to surf in. It’s practical, as it’s too warm for a wetsuit, but it’s kind of odd to see them walking around like that when the rest of us are in bathing suits. But more power to them . . . and one of the people brought us all a pair of rainbow unicorn T Rex leggings. They are adorable, even if I can only fit a toe in them.

  26. Shelley says:

    Last year while I was driving a couple of my gay friends home, they started yelling at women who were wearing leggings with shorter shirts. Something about dromedary toes. OK, they were tipsy but no excuse. I told them we’ve had to look at their packages in really tight jeans for years now. Why the double standard? They shut up. As they should.

  27. Aidan says:

    I love leggings. I have so many leggings I have leggings I’ve bought and never even worn yet. I generally wear them under shorts or skirts because, like most humans, I don’t have a big gap between my thighs and the skin tends to rub. Leggings are cute and prevent chafing. I don’t think I’d be comfortable wearing them as pants on their own, but I tip my hat to the girls who do. Frankly, I think leggings are awesome.

    Although, I will concede, I also don’t quite “get” flesh colored leggings. I saw a girl walking down the street wearing some and did a double take because I thought she was naked. But when I realized she wasn’t, I was like, “Well, that’s a relief,” and went on my way. Because like you said, if I think I have a good reason to admonish someone’s clothing choices, I also have to entertain the notion that I’m being an asshole.

    And I may be an asshole, but I definitely don’t want to have to acknowledge it. ;-P (Just kidding, of course. We should always acknowledge when we’re being assholes and try to fix it. Unless someone is being an even bigger asshole and needs to be put in their place.)

  28. Karen says:

    Gosh…has all awareness of and appreciation for aesthetic sensibility gone where the wild goose goes? Leggings Lolas may have the right to dress as they choose, but why do they have the right to assault me visually? Or make me feel bad because they have perfect butts and legs and I don’t? Where’s my safe space? Probably taken by those who prove that some fabric can be infinitely stretched. Bring it on flamers. If leggings as outside clothing gets a pass by you, then anything you say is suspect!

    • Michelle says:

      I choose to not view this as being “visually assaulted” and accepting that we all have different bodies and it’s not the responsibility for the other humans to adorn themselves in a way that I find pleasing. That’s an impossible goal anyway.

      No one has perfect butts or perfect legs. Who says what is perfect, anyway? My husband adores my chubby little body and I’ve accepted who I am. That is all that matters.

      I saw a dude at a lunch counter recently and he had a MASSIVE plumber’s crack. My first thought was “Why should I have to look at that when I’m about to eat?” Then I thought…”He’s just enjoying his breakfast and not hurting me in any way. We ALL have ass cracks. It’s no big deal.” Then I ate my breakfast and everything was fine.

      I had NO IDEA that an opinion on leggings would indict everything else I say. The things you learn.. πŸ™‚

  29. Karen says:

    Oh, Michelle! I’m disappointed. You failed to recognize my brilliant tongue in cheek silliness. Don’t emoticons mean any thing anymore? I really didn’t mean to sound so serious. Gosh, does this mean I could be the next Jonathan Swift? Please don’t be mad at me.

    • Michelle says:

      O M G. It totally went by me. So funny…holy crap, that is hilarious. What is funny is that Randy and I were out tonight and we were discussing your comment…and I said, I don’t get it because she was so nice in her comment on the other site. I also asked him if he thought my answer sounded mean because I really wasn’t trying to be mean. And then, for a brief moment, I thought..wonder if she was being sarcastic. Naaaah…

  30. Karen says:

    Dang! My emoticons don’t show! Well, so much for brilliant satire!

  31. Kristin says:

    Why do I love leggings??? Let me count the ways…in spite of a high school chum of mine cracking a comment about big girls looking like sausages in leggings, he took my reproach like a champ and exclaimed that I am the exception to the sausage rule and that he was really referring to yoga pants and the little bra things on big women… my response… I know that leggings need a shirt that at least covers your butt!!! I LOVE LEGGINGS…. I am the curvy, fat bottomed girl that was blessed with nice legs that somehow never get as big as the rest of me; however my tummy just expands and expands… I personally think that the comfort of leggings is ESSENTIAL to my wardrobe because if I feel good, then I am better equipped to deal with all the nastiness of the world. #loveyourleggings!! I also agree about light colored ones… I had the beige pair you spoke of and could not go out of the house…. every roll in full display and it even highlighted my cottage cheese.. not the look I was going for. Thanks for always making me smile. Keep it real!