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Leggings liberation movement

| Monday, October 13, 2014

Leggings LiberationMARY McGRAW
As college students at the University of Notre Dame, we have a whole lot to be thankful for. Our football team is 6-0. As of right now we are able to walk to class without contracting frostbite. And, in my opinion, the Dome is looking extra dapper this year.

However, an aspect of Notre Dame that I am, and always will be, eternally grateful for is my right to wear leggings.

Now, it is more difficult than you would think to find statistics on the prevalence of leggings, yoga pants, jeggings and skinny jeans on college and high school campuses, but from personal observation and experience I’m going to go ahead and assume that you would be hard pressed to find a young woman under the age of 22 that doesn’t own at least one, if not all four, of these clothing items.

That being said, if Fr. Jenkins woke up one morning and suddenly realized that the promising minds of our virile male student population were being led astray by the sight of intelligent women wearing comfortable attire to their classes and decided to ban said attire, the uproar would be unavoidable.

While the likelihood of this happening on our campus is fortunately very small, regulations of the same nature are being instituted in high schools across America, most recently in Devils Lake, North Dakota.

The Devils Lake school district lately instituted a ban on leggings, jeggings and “tight” jeans. The assistant principal of the school system’s only high school told Valley News Live that the teens were made to watch clips from the movie “Pretty Woman,” and subsequently the administration compared the girls’ banned attire to Julia Robert’s character in the film — a prostitute. An English teacher at the school even went as far to say that the female students looked like “prostitutes walking down the street.”

The assistant principal claimed that the policy “is not meant to objectify girls, but to stop boys from focusing on something other than class work.” However, if the “offending” clothing continues to be worn by certain individuals, those girls can face detention or even suspension, which does little to improve their own focus.

With everything else going on in the world, the denial of skinny jeans to a few small-town teenagers seems superfluous. While I somewhat agree, I urge my peers to understand why liberating tight pants for adolescent students in America is important too.

School administrations like the one in Devils Lake continue to perpetrate this idea that young men are unable to control their own impulses, that it is the job of young women to cover up rather than the responsibility of young men to look away and pay attention to the work at hand. When teenage girls are told that their comfort in the classroom by wearing leggings to school, comes second to the quality of teenage boys’ education, society is depreciating the emphasis placed on female teenagers’ learning experience and augmenting the emphasis placed on their bodies.

In my own public school near Dallas, Nike running shorts are banned from school grounds for the way the sides rise a few inches higher up the leg. At the time, it was something my friends and I complained about, the subject of many a Facebook status updates that mostly dwelled on the fact that we wanted to slum it to school, rather than the sexism of it all. College-me would slap high school-me upside the head.

I am grateful that as university students we have the freedom to wear whatever it is we feel comfortable in to class, male or female. Yet, with all of us coming from high schools with similar policies or even uniform regulations, the stigma is still attached. This idea of women needing to police what they wear in order to send the “correct” message to men is ingrained in each sex from an early age and carries on through not only young peoples’ educational and professional careers, but their personal lives as well.

So, coeds, I urge you to join the movement. Liberating leggings, jeggings, yoga pants, skinny jeans and Nike shorts from the drawers of young teenagers takes steps towards healthier gender equality in public schools and restores the right to rock the leggings-spirit jersey look three days-a-week to the teenage girls of America. If that’s not justice, I don’t know what is.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Alexandra Lowery

I am sophomore in the Mendoza College of Business and the department of Film, Television and Theatre. I enjoy long, drawn out feminist rants, playing guitar and worshipping Beyoncé.

Contact Alexandra