Home Life Laurie Nigro Leggings: partial payback for centuries of female suffering

Leggings: partial payback for centuries of female suffering

Photo: WIkimedia Commons

I’ve been a woman for a good while now. It’s been a long road with plenty of speed bumps along the way. Though for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the ride, there have been a few times when I was brought up short and couldn’t help but ask that age-old question, “WTF?”

Though menstruation, pregnancy cankles, bras and pantyhose have, at one time or another, made me question this whole female thing, I’m still proud of my XX chromosomes. The women’s movement fought to take our issues out of the shadows and those struggles allowed us many freedoms our mothers and grandmothers were denied. Whether legally or just socially bound to certain roles, most of our foremothers could not imagine that being the head of a university, the leader of the free world, or the inventor of Spanx was within their reach.  

My mother’s generation was the first to see the majority of women enter the workforce. That generation fought hard against the old rule and, though we still have a lot of glass to break, we’re (mostly) moving in the right direction. We use our strength, passion, intelligence and skills to continue the struggle for our just due: equal pay for equal work, paid parental leave, breastfeeding rights — and leggings.

For real. Leggings are the best thing since pockets (incidentally, the lack thereof is the only thing wrong with leggings). If you ever think about the fashions that women have endured throughout history, you have to admit we are in the Golden Age of Comfort. Did you know that some Victorian psycho invented whalebone corsets for women? There are so many things wrong with that. First, I get that people used to hunt whales and use all the parts and it was a staple of their lives and economy, but I still can’t get over killing whales. It actually hurts my soul. So when you then take those slaughtered whale parts and jam the bones into women’s clothing, for the sole purpose of making women smaller, while also restricting their breathing and sometimes actually piercing hearts and killing them, I have some complaints.

Other fashion nightmares include the crinoline hoop skirt (made of steel and horse hair — and super flammable), lead-based makeup (used for thousands of years — yes, thousands), and foot binding. You can laugh and also cry out in incredulity while reading this great blog about killer fashion.(Just a warning — the language is a touch salty.)  

So after all that, we deserve leggings, dammit. I don’t care if you get ones with Kermit the Frog’s face across your arse or ones with smiling strawberries to match your three-year-old’s smiling strawberries, even if you probably shouldn’t. We have suffered through far too many torturous clothing and accessory trends to split hairs about what you should or should not paste on your lower half. You do you, girl.

I think of leggings as partial payment for childbirth, training for a 5K after 40, and/or for getting out of bed each day. These stretchy wünder-pants are our right and reward for many hundreds of years of pain and suffering. Not since the toga have we been allowed such freedom.  

Leggings don’t care if you’re bloated or just ate two bowls of ice cream and you’re lactose intolerant. They forgive you for weight fluctuations, failed crow poses (because the falling on my head part was embarrassing enough), and are one of the few garments that can be worn as day or night clothing. If properly utilized, leggings even pass for “dressed up.” I cannot tell you how many times I have been complimented on a legging/dress combo, smiled and thanked the person, while my whole brain was screaming, “OMG I am essentially in pajamas and it is not just socially acceptable, it is preferred! Thank you, Jesus.” Because most of my dresses are super soft, comfy things. It’s like winning at winning.

I know there are some who disagree with me. I have been embroiled in raging legging battles. People have opinions over who should and should not wear them, what types/colors/patterns are and are not acceptable, whether or not you should spend nearly $100 on a single pair (my guess is no — but you should probably know that I also spent about that much on my wedding dress, for context), or whether they should be considered pants at all. The answer to that is not difficult.  

Leggings are only pants if they are opaque. And that opaque quality MUST be consistent. When one bends, the leggings must remain solid. If at any point, the fabric thins and we can see the things that we should not see, your leggings have failed. These are tights.

Leggings and tights are far too often confused with one another. Tights are NOT acceptable pants. They never have been. They are meant to be worn under other things. Put them in the same category as pantyhose. If you wouldn’t wear your pantyhose solo (which, I pray to God, you would not), then do not wear tights solo. They are not leggings and therefore, fail at being pants. And we all suffer. Because no matter how much I may love my sisters in womanhood, I don’t need to see all her private bits when she drops her keys.

I know women who won’t wear leggings out of their house, and that’s a perfectly reasonable way to go through life, but I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t own a pair or 26. As a matter of fact, a woman who doesn’t own any leggings is suspect. I’m not sure I could ever trust her. I may have to learn to sew, just to gift her some. I have very little skill at anything crafty, but I feel like even I could follow this pattern from So-Sew-Easy.com. She uses pictures!

Laurie Nigro
Laurie is the mother of two biological children and one husband and the caretaker of a menagerie of animals. Laurie is passionate about frugal, natural living. She was recognized by the L.I. Press Club with a “best humor column” award in 2016. Email Laurie