A mum wrote an open letter asking college students to stop wearing leggings. Instead, students staged a counter-protest.

Nicole Abbett/NHLI via Getty ImagesUniversity of Notre Dame.
  • Last fall, Maryann White, whose sons attend the University of Notre Dame, saw what she assumed was female college students wearing leggings as pants to church.
  • On Monday, White wrote a letter to the editor of the college’s student newspaper asking women to “think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead.”
  • The letter was not received well by the student community.
  • Now, students at the school are protesting her letter by wearing leggings.
  • At the school, students declared Tuesday “Love Your Leggings Day,” noting that clothing is all about the freedom of self-expression and people should wear whatever makes them feel best.

It’s a question as old as time: Do leggings count as pants? According to one woman, the answer is a resounding no.

It all started in the fall of 2018 when Maryann White attended a mass at Notre Dame college with her sons. While there, she saw a group of young, college-aged women in leggings and crop tops. White was aghast.

In a March 25 letter to the editor of Notre Dame’s college paper entitled “The legging problem,” White described her experience at mass, which she said she had been thinking about for “a long time”

“I was ashamed for the young women at Mass. I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds. 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 afterward. 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.”

Read more: A 16-year-old girl says she was reprimanded for wearing leggings and a T-shirt to school

In her letter, White urged the college-aged women to abandon leggings altogether. “Think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead,” she implored.

The letter was not received well by the student body, as the Washington Post reported.

Tuesday was dubbed “Love Your Leggings Day” by one student at the school and “Leggings Pride Day” by the student group Irish 4 Reproductive Health. Both events had the same mission: “Join in our legging wearing hedonism! (Or not because what you wear is completely your own choice),” as the organiser of “Love Your Leggings Day” put it.

Leggings Pride Day” had over 800 attendees on Facebook. On Twitter, the organisers asked people to post pictures of their leggings with #LeggingsDayND.

The organisers wrote on Facebook: “We ask White and others offended by leggings to consider the harmful effects of telling people that they bear responsibility for others’ moral choices because of the way they are dressed.”

In addition to the counter-protest, many students wrote letters and articles, giving their take on the great legging debate. One, from another campus mum entitled “Leggings: Another mum’s view,” argued that White’s logic missed the mark.

“Women find male chests and abs attractive like men find women’s legs attractive. By her own definition and logic, any male out playing on a sunny day at the park with his friends should be ashamed of himself, and as a mother, she should have properly raised her son not to tempt my daughter with his body,” the second mum wrote. “This is the issue – the real issue. We are raising the wrong mindset. My daughter is not responsible for this woman’s sons’ thoughts or behaviours.”

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