If you've been living in a social media black hole for the past few days (which is possible. I know a shocking number of people who don't have facebook) then you have may have missed the post by Veronica Partridge, a Pastors wife from Oregon. The post, "Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings" has been shared almost 100,000 times across social media platforms. You can find the original post here, and her follow up post here.
If you don't feel like reading, here is the short version of the story: Veronica liked to wear leggings, leggings cause lustful thoughts in men (her husband included), so therefore, no more leggings or yoga pants in public.
Seems pretty ridiculous, right?
I won't touch on the religious aspect of this, because her beliefs are just that -- hers. I don't agree, and I really don't think God has any opinion on leggings or yoga pants or ANY type of clothing for that matter, but we don't exactly have a relationship, and so therefore that's all I will say on the matter. However, what struck me the most, aside from the complete asinine premise of this whole notion, is this particular statement:
I also want to set the best example of how to dress for my daughter. I want her to know, her value is not in the way her body looks or how she dresses, but in the character and personality God has given her.
OK, so does anybody else see how incredibly contradictory that statement is, when compared to the actions that she is deciding to take? Here's the thing -- by telling your daughter that she shouldn't wear something because somebody might look at her and think that she is beautiful, or looks nice because of an outfit choice she decided to make on one particular day, she is telling her daughter that her character is NOT the most important thing, that her looks are the forefront of what every man thinks, and that her personality will never come first.
What I have been saying to friends & my husband (who, man I love him, agrees with me 100%) is that it is not our responsibility as woman to try and control the thoughts of men. We, as humans, are sexual beings. It's in our nature. Our DNA. We are put here on Earth by whatever force or being you believe in, to do great things. But we also have a NATURAL, sexual drive within us. And it's OK. There is nothing wrong with that. I do not understand this mentality of shutting out this natural THING within us. When it comes down to it, it's always going to be more than leggings or yoga pants. Men are visual creatures, are they not? I mean, that's a pretty basic fact I'm sure we are all aware of. If a guy wants to sneak a peek as he's walking by, he wouldn't be the first. I'm not going to lie, I rock the HELL out of some yoga pants basically every single day of my life. In fact, I just spent a ridiculous amount of money on a new pair because ohmygosh they are insanely comfortable. I also stay at home, with two small kids, and comfort when rolling around on the ground and chasing them down the hallway is of the utmost importance. Yes -- they get worn out in public, and yes, I know that my husband happens to like my booty in yoga pants. And probably leggings if I ever wore them. But it goes both ways -- does she never leave the house? Never make eye contact with any other individual who isn't a woman? Never watch movies? I bet she would be lying if she said she never saw Channing Tatum without his shirt and thought "daaaaaamn."
But all jokes aside, where do we stop? Should we as women stop wearing low cut shirts? Or even form-fitting shirts in general? What about tight jeans (which you will notice in the original posts, the author has ZERO problems wearing jeans that are basically as tight as the leggings I'm sure she wears. Even though she states in her follow-up it's not the same). Should we stop wearing makeup because it makes us feel pretty? Or stop doing our hair? Or wearing bathing suits? Or dressing, in general, to what we feel makes us look good? There are people out there who find ALL of these things attractive -- so where do we stop? Because you can't pick ONE item, one thing that you think is the only thing that makes you attractive to others, and then decide to not wear it anymore. Well, I mean, you can. But not without examining all other aspects of the conversation.
When we push this line of thinking all the way to the extreme, we very quickly find that this is why countries, religion, men force the women of their culture to wear burqas or hijabs in public. 100% coverage when you could possibly be around other men. So obviously this would stop the sexualization and "lusting," correct? Wrong. Women are still taken advantage of. They are still seen as objects. Rape. Still. Happens.
So how about this. WHAT IF, instead of shaming women (even though that was not her intention) for wearing clothing that makes them feel good, or is comfortable, we have a discussion about what we are teaching men. WHAT IF, we all worked on raising our boys to the best of our ability. Let's TEACH THEM that it is not our responsibility as women to change our behavior because a man may decide to take advantage of the way we look, or act. It IS our responsibility to teach our children (boys AND girls) to respect others. To treat them kindly. That women (and men) are not objects, but that there is nothing wrong with a little bit of sexuality, either. And that's all I see here in her posts, that instead of teaching children responsibility, we are teaching them to close the door to a natural part of being HUMAN. I can only hope that I raise my two boys to be respectful of the women around them, and I am so grateful that I have a husband who also truly believes that mentality. It's way past time for women to stop apologizing for the things that they wear, for feeling and being attractive, and in general, just being themselves. It's also way past time that we hold men responsible for their own actions. I know our family will do the best we can to raise our boys right.
THIS is the discussion that needs to be happening in our culture right now. Not whether leggings or yoga pants are inappropriate. Because when you raise respectful young men, then having to worry about what you wear doesn't matter.