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Dear Ms. White

| Wednesday, March 27, 2019

As someone who grew up in Pakistan and was made to buy jeans from the boys’ section through most of middle and high school, I come from a background where leggings are not widely accepted. That being said, I am sincerely and respectfully baffled and angered by your letter. Allow me to walk you through my thinking.

My mother always taught me there is a time and a place to dress a certain way. I dress very differently when I am going for Sunday brunch in New York City with my closest girlfriends versus when I am visiting family in Pakistan. Regardless, the issues I have with your letter go much deeper than whether the girls who “obtruded painfully on [your] landscape” at Mass were right or wrong to dress that way. The key issue I have with your letter is that it is not, should not and will not ever be my legging-wearing body’s responsibility to dress a certain way so it is easier for anyone else — whether they be your sons (who sound like wonderful young men by the way) or any other Catholic mother’s sons — to not stare at my backside.

I am not Catholic but based on my brief research, Matthew 18:9 states, “And if your eye causes sin, gouge it out and throw it away,” not, “And if your eye causes sin, declare that all girls should stop wearing leggings that highlight their behinds so that your eye has nothing to look at.”

As I finish my 80-hour work week in New York City and finally put on my oldest and softest pair of leggings this weekend, I will not be thinking of you, or any other Catholic mother for that matter, because I darn well deserve the right to put on those leggings. As a young woman in this day and age, I have a host of concerns that occupy my mind, the cream of the crop being assault and violence, sexual and reproductive rights and fair and equal pay. I could go on, but I’m sure you catch my drift. So, I apologize that protecting the good Catholic boys of the world from my nakedness is not something I am willing to nor should I have to add onto my list of responsibilities.

Quite frankly, I am saddened and disappointed you believe the burden of this should fall on every legging-wearing girl’s shoulders rather than on parents (not just Catholic mothers) to teach their sons and daughters that objectifying any human being (not just legging-wearing girls) is inherently wrong and a girl’s choice to wear or not to wear leggings does not define her.

I am more than happy to discuss this with you further and give you a young woman’s firsthand perspective on why your letter has every feminist bone in my body screaming. I appreciate your declaration that it is indeed my right to choose whether or not I wear leggings, but I hope by getting a brief sense of the kinds of issues that haunt the young women of today, you will forgive us for not taking on the additional burden of protecting your sons from our backsides.

Love and leggings,

Maha Khan

class of 2016

March 25

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

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