I was out with Addison yesterday dress shopping at Macy’s. I saw some really adorable, fit young (20s) girls walk by, both wearing leggings. It wasn’t the leggings really I had a problem with, it was that they had really short shirts and jackets on with them. In essence, they were showing every possible curve of their lower half of their body. They were lovely curves, young and firm still, but *every* curve. When I later commented to Addison, “When I get my body all smoking hot, remind me not to wear leggings like that,” and then she and I had a discussion about judgment of women wearing leggings. Her point was that leggings aren’t that much different from skinny jeans, which I agree with, because I think in many cases, those also show curves I don’t want to see.
To clarify, I’m not judging those sweet young girls. I’m not thinking they’re promiscuous because they want to show every curve of both the front AND back halves of their lower body. I’m thinking they are a reflection of the culture, and quite possibly, when women started wearing swimming suits out in public for the first time, the older generation had a similar response. Does this make me old and unhip? Possibly. In this instance, I’m okay with that.
I also want to quickly add that I don’t buy into the various crap that’s out there regarding women and clothes. E.g., “If you dress sexy, you’re inviting rape,” or similar junk. Women should be able to walk around naked, if they choose, and not “invite” rape (which is a really ignorant way of considering it, but has been a cliché surrounding sexual violence for decades). By the same token, I don’t buy into the sexist double-standard that we expect more modest dress for women, but men can run around shirtless and working some Magic Mike look. I really don’t want to see men scantily clad either, unless I’m watching Baryshnikov performing ballet. I also don’t buy into the fit/fat argument – it’s acceptable for fit women to wear leggings that show every curve, but not for fat women to wear leggings which show every curve. I don’t buy into the mindset that young girls shouldn’t be a “distraction” to young men by wearing certain outfits (which is the rationale of many school districts who are now banning leggings as daily wear in their schools). It isn’t women’s responsibility to shield ourselves from males – that’s not the point.
I guess, what frustrates me the most, and perhaps this IS judgmental, is the idea that I think women who wear clothing which shows more than “I feel” they should (see how I’m qualifying all this subjectivity?) just don’t love themselves all that much. I can’t help but think if you’re showing a camel toe that you just don’t value the many other components of your self-worth – your personality, your wit, your sense of humor. You feel the need to display your body, and this could be because you’re seeking attention from others because you haven’t gotten enough before, because you have Daddy/Mommy issues, because you are riddled with self-doubt, etc.
I’m not a prude — I think those who know me would contend I’ve got a fairly normal sexual attitude. I have no problem with soft core porn, no real hang-ups, and am open-minded about how people want to live their lives behind their own bedroom doors. Or in their kitchens, or bathrooms, or whatever. I just don’t want to see others’ body parts when I’m out in public. Arms, fine. Legs, fine. Butts, no thank you. Vaginas? Definitely not.
I also think, as far as Moms go, I’ve been pretty restrictive of what my girls wear out in public in their developmental earlier years. I haven’t permitted midriffs, cleavage (whether or not they have it, it can always be attained by a push-up bra), cut-away backs, etc. I’ve spoken out against shorts that look like Daisy Dukes, leggings that make a butt look naked, and even the low-necked shirts (whether or not they had any breasts at the time). They’re finally at an age where they can wear (for the most part) clothing of their choice, and seldom do I say, “You’re *not* wearing that out in public.” More often it will be, “Are you sure you want to wear that to —?”
I want them to consider how they’re presenting themselves. I don’t want them second-guessing their worth, but I don’t think clothes MAKE our worth – I think they reflect how we value ourselves. I want them to wear clothes that say, “I’m strong and confident and I don’t need to show my body to reflect that.” I wish that classy was sexy again. We are such a hyper-sexualized society, though, I think my perspective will be relegated to the “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” era. Good thing I have my own blog where I can rant about whatever I want, then.