Leggings aren’t pants

This is a very old draft that I scheduled to publish far, far in the future. Which, at the time, was December 2016. So here’s an accidental post for you.

Once upon a time, I was anti-leggings. I found them ugly and unflattering. I deemed them lazy and immodest. I thought they should only be worn to bed or the gym. I mean, layering them under shorts or a skirt was acceptable, but As Pants? Not so much. I assumed women who wore them As Pants were trying to draw attention to their assets or too lazy to plan a real outfit. Hussies and fuggos, all. I would never wear such things.

I felt safe thinking this way because people said stuff that reinforced my opinions all the time: Leggings Aren’t Pants! Do You Really Want NonHusband Men To See The Shape Of Your Butt? Put on Some Real Pants! Ew, She’s Too Fat to Pull Those Off. Girls These Days! Don’t Be Distracting. Put in Some Effort! Sluuuuut.

Then I tried on a pair. I was jogging outside regularly and needed something warmer than running shorts and less clunky than sweatpants. Little did I know, my opinion of leggings (and their perhaps even more infamous sidekick, yoga pants) was about to shift.

It happened slowly. First, I stopped wearing shorts over leggings on jogs. Then I started wearing them around the house when other people were home. Soon, I didn’t feel obligated to change into jeans for a quick trip to Target.

Verily, I began wearing them As Pants. And stopped caring that other women did, too.

TBH, I still often find leggings, well, aesthetically displeasing. I rarely think “I look awesome in these” or “she looks super cute in those.” But also? Leggings are comfortable, and they are made to be comfortable. I wear them myself now, even on weekdays, even in public, even with my thunderous thighs. Because sometimes I don’t care about being cute. Sometimes I care about being comfortable. Sometimes I am not thinking of cuteness or comfort, I’m just doing stuff while I happen to have on leggings.

Which is fine. My job is not to be universally aesthetically pleasing at all times in all places. It’s not any woman’s job. I’ve let go of the internalized, often sizeist misogyny that influenced my self-congratulatory loathing of cotton-spandex.

Of course, plenty of people still clutch their pearls and yell out of car windows about leggings. Because, the argument insists, Leggings Aren’t Pants! And they aren’t halfpants when you put a shirtdress over them, either!

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how this argument has only developed in the past decade, as women have donned form-fitting leg fabrics. I have never read a textbook that mentions the controversy over medieval menswear, but history is filled with distracting, slutty, lazy men wearing leggings, even As Pants.

It’s a good thing women aren’t visual!

Detail of a 15th century illuminated manuscript of Renaud de Montauban.

Frank Godwin


RHMIT italian



The Three Musketeers (1921)




FOURNEL(1887) the good old days

the good old days



  1. jmellison · · Reply

    I like how you included so many pictures!

  2. Are people even allowed to clutch their pearls while they yell out of windows? Brazen. They should look to their own behavior.

    This was awesome.

  3. My own personal preference is to not wear leggings as pants. I think the last time I did, I was about twelve. I wear them under skirts and dresses, and occasionally, when it’s really cold, under my jeans as an extra layer so I don’t have buy thermals. I just don’t feel comfortable wearing leggings as pants. But that’s me. Someone else who likes wearing their leggings as pants should go for it.

    I love the medieval pictures. Funny how men got to prance around in tight tight pants and women had to wear all those long heavy skirts.

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