I remember where leggings began for me. It was a simpler time; I was eight. In the third grade, the word leggings had a different meaning than they do now. Transport yourself back there. The late aughts. The playground. You always wore them under denim skirts or sweater dresses with ballet flats. We wanted to look just like Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez did on the Disney Channel.
My first pair was black, capri in length, and touched my belly button underneath my long shirts. And I loved them. They weren’t the “leggings” that we know today, actually most people mispronounced them as “leggins.”
Fast forward to high school and college. Leggings become an easy choice. They’re a way to look chill, but a little sexy. Relaxed, but a little lazy. Pull on your black pair and throw an oversized t-shirt, and you’re on trend.
Go to any work out class and look for the women. In my experience, women over 40 love to wear printed leggings, even though all 20-year-olds know solid black is the way to go. We keep it simple.
I’ve torn through tons of black leggings (my favorite being the champion ones they sell at Target). I’ve worn them to school, to work, to work out in and to relax in. But after hours of contemplating the pros and cons, I’ve decided to ditch leggings for a few reasons.
One: They are not actually cute. Now let me say, YOU as an individual probably look very cute in leggings, and, as my mother would say, rock on with your bad self. That being said, a pair of stretchy, black pants leaves no room for your own personal style to come through. For the over 40 crowd, I know I told you that your colorful, printed leggings are cute, but I lied. Ask anyone in their twenties and I swear they will agree with me.
Two: They are always making you think about your butt. And I just don’t vibe with that. Our bodies are our vessels. In this 21st century world, we don’t have time to focus on our appearance 24/7. I exist in a human form and sometimes that human form doesn’t look appealing to you. And I don’t care.
Three: They are not comfortable. I knew this one would be controversial but let me argue my case. True comfort is something you would relax in, or sleep in. It’s something that everyone could wear. Leggings are too tight, and although they’re stretchy, they remain constrictive. If leggings truly were the pinnacle of comfortable clothing, men would be wearing them too.
If they’re not cute nor comfortable, and persist the scrutiny of women’s bodies, then why do we continue to wear them?
I think a few reasons. For one, it’s hard to ditch such a popular clothing item. Leggings are easy; they’re accepted in our society. You can work out in them, lounge in them, and run errands while feigning having your life together.
Not to get too intense or anything, but leggings absolutely contribute the oversexualization of women. Like I mentioned in the intro, ten years ago we thought of leggings as thicker, more casual tights. As we grew up, social media made us feel like we needed to be looking #cute all the time. Even when working out, breaking a sweat, and taking care of our bodies we grew conditioned to be selfie ready and advertisers played into our insecurity by feeding us their solution: leggings.
“But Audrey?” You say. “What else am I supposed to wear to relax or work out?”
I’m glad you asked. Let me introduce you to something I like to call “the look of the future,” also known as sweatpants.
Sweatpants are not sexy. They do not make you think about your butt. They are so easy to put on even when you’re feeling bloated and guess what? You can work out in them too. They’re comfortable for all genders, any height or weight, and (a big bonus!) they have deep pockets.
For anyone interested in stepping away from leggings, I recommend a solid black or grey pair. They’re simple, and they’ll match any of your t-shirts, sweaters, or denim jackets that you originally wore with your leggings.
At the end of the day, style is intensely personal. If leggings are your thing, more power to you. But if a voice in your head has been whispering… “Are these really even comfortable?” it’s time to check out the look of the future.