Tuesday 20 August 2019

Liz Kearney: 'If you don't like leggings, don't look'

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'Leggings are not a problem that “only girls can solve”, they’re just lycra trousers' (stock photo)
'Leggings are not a problem that “only girls can solve”, they’re just lycra trousers' (stock photo)
Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney

I'll be honest, I never realised wearing leggings was so controversial until I read about the furore it's caused on an American college campus, where a mum has written to female students beseeching them to stop with immediate effect.

MaryAnn White wrote an impassioned letter to the college newspaper at Notre Dame complaining the figure-hugging garments were too revealing to be worn in public and urging young women to preserve their modesty by choosing jeans instead.

"I'm just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings," she wrote. MaryAnn had taken her boys to Mass and in the pew in front were four young women wearing tight black leggings which revealed their "blackly naked rear ends" (honestly).

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Poor MaryAnn didn't know where to look. And as for her sons? They were similarly mortified, she professed. And although she has always done her best to teach her boys to respect women, such wantonness "makes it hard for young guys to ignore women's bodies", she complained.

Leaving aside the question of whether the letter is real, or faked by a college mischief-maker to attract publicity, it has sparked a massive backlash. Students on campus immediately donned leggings of all colours and sizes and took to Twitter to mock MaryAnn.

Even 'The New York Times' weighed in, asking: 'Why does this item of clothing get people so riled up?'

Well, I'm not sure that it really does, unless your name is MaryAnn. I suspect that for most women leggings are the most unremarkable piece of clothing in their wardrobes.

They're a first resort on a lazy Saturday morning, equally comfortable round the house, or going out for a walk, or at yoga class. And yes, OK, you've got the brigade who consider them just tights with no feet, but these people are mistaken.

Leggings are warmer and more comfortable, and they don't sag or ladder. Put it this way: if your tights look like your leggings, you're doing both wrong.

Anyway, MaryAnn's real difficulty is not actually leggings but her religion, which has spent thousands of years encouraging us to view women as either second-class citizens or infernal temptresses who start all the problems in the first place, ever since Adam blamed Eve for giving him the apple and getting them both booted out of paradise.

Leggings are not a problem that "only girls can solve", they're just lycra trousers. You might find them unsightly, but honestly? No one's forcing you to look.

Zuckerberg suits up for Facebook makeover

Presumably, MaryAnn White would agree with Hamlet, who declared that "apparel oft proclaims the man". So what would MaryAnn and Hamlet make of Mark Zuckerberg's sartorial makeover?

Pictured in Dublin as he met with politicians, Zuckerberg - whose previous uniform of grey T-shirt and jeans epitomised Silicon Valley - looked every inch the worried executive, wearing an unassuming navy suit and the permanently bemused expression of a man who's not quite sure how he got here.

Beside him was his director of communications, erstwhile politician Nick Clegg, looking positively elderly in a blue V-neck sweater under a blue suit, like a farmer at a funeral.

I'm not sure dressing like aul fellas will help Facebook with its image, but I suppose they're doing their best to convince us that they're a corporation that takes its responsibilities to society and democracy seriously. Something tells me Mark will need more than a new suit to persuade us.

Irish Independent

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