Notre Dame mom begs women to stop wearing leggings; students decry 'age-old sexist tropes'

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Notre Dame mom begs women to stop wearing leggings; students decry 'age-old sexist tropes'

A mom wrote to Notre Dame's student newspaper begging students to choose jeans over leggings that show "blackly naked rear ends." Students protested.


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Read books together every day. Get started when he's a newborn; babies love listening to the sound of their parents' voices. Cuddling up with your child and a book is a great bonding experience that will set him up for a lifetime of reading.

What year are we living in?

OK, just checking.

Because after reading this mom's open letter to University of Notre Dame students pleading with them to stop wearing their scandalous leggings, I wasn't sure.

Maryann White was horrified one day while attending mass to see a group of young women wearing short tops and leggings sitting in front of her. This mother of four sons was appalled.

"My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not)," she wrote. "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."

This sounds an awful lot like she's saying these young women are opening themselves up to being harassed — or worse — by men simply by how they dress.

In yoga pants no less. The wardrobe staple preferred by moms and teenagers and people into yoga and fitness and couch lounging and, well, every woman everywhere.

White said in her letter, headlined "The legging problem," that she hoped the fashion trend would pass, but alas, nope. Sigh.

"I’ve heard women say that they like leggings because they’re 'comfortable.' So are pajamas. So is nakedness. And the human body is a beautiful thing. But we don’t go around naked because we respect ourselves — we want to be seen as a person, not a body (like slave-girl Leia)," she said referencing Princess Leia's golden bikini in "The Empire Strikes Back."

Let them read what they want. Kids who read for pleasure excel academically—not only in language arts but, as recent research from the Institute of Education, in London, found, in math as well. So while you wish he would pick up Dickens, don't make him feel bad about a graphic novel. "A 'junky' series can be good if it gets kids hooked on the habit of reading," says Mary Leonhardt, a former high school English teacher and the author of Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don't.

Finally, she implores those lazy and nasty women to think about someone else besides themselves — namely men who can't help but ogle and her sons who wouldn't dare.

"Leggings are so naked, so form fitting, so exposing," she wrote. "Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead?"

The plea set off a protest

Students encouraged one another to wear leggings to demonstrate how strongly they disagreed with the letter. On Facebook, they organized "Leggings Day," "Love Your Leggings" and "Leggings Pride Day" groups.

holy jezabels! leggings AND a cropped @Irish4RepHealth tee?! 🤭

— Dani Green (@danigreen41)

It's unclear how many students participated in wearing leggings. But campus reproductive rights group Irish 4 Reproductive Health, which organized Leggings Pride Day, showed at least 895 participating this week.

The Facebook group page said the letter invokes "age-old sexist tropes that characterize women as unchaste temptresses."

White was unable to be located Thursday afternoon to comment on the letter or the student reaction.

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Heather Weston