Catholic mom of 4 sons sparks uproar with 'lecture' to women about leggings

A Catholic mother's op-ed about a popular women's garment and the effect it may have on her sons and other men has made waves online.

In a letter written to the editor of The Observer, the student-run newspaper serving the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary's College and Holy Cross College, a parent identified as Maryann White describes the issues she has with young women wearing leggings, the comfortable, form-fitting bottoms beloved by many.

Titled "The legging problem," White's letter laments:

The emergence of leggings as pants some years ago baffled me. They’re such an unforgiving garment. Last fall, they obtruded painfully on my landscape. I was at Mass at the Basilica with my family. In front of us was a group of young women, all wearing very snug-fitting leggings and all wearing short-waisted tops (so that the lower body was uncovered except for the leggings). Some of them truly looked as though the leggings had been painted on them.

She continues: 

I’ve heard women say that they like leggings because they’re “comfortable.” So are pajamas. So is nakedness. And the human body is a beautiful thing. But we don’t go around naked because we respect ourselves — we want to be seen as a person, not a body ... We don’t go naked because we respect the other people who must see us, whether they would or not. These are not just my sons — they’re the fathers and brothers of your friends, the male students in your classes, the men of every variety who visit campus. I’m fretting both because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you. For the Catholic mothers who want to find a blanket to lovingly cover your nakedness and protect you — and to find scarves to tie over the eyes of their sons to protect them from you!

"Let Notre Dame girls be the first to turn their backs(ides) on leggings," she ended. "You have every right to wear them. But you have every right to choose not to. Thanks for listening to the lecture. Catholic moms are good at those!"

White's outfit-shaming comments drew the ire of the paper's readers, with one woman who identified herself as a Catholic mother calling her line of reasoning "exhausting." 

"Men and boys need to learn to restrain themselves in the world, to control their impulses, to learn that the world will not be perfectly paved in front of them and may not be "legging-free,'" she wrote.

Another woman, Maria Mosley, clapped back at the inflammatory letter with a Bible verse.

"'And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.' Matthew 18:9," she wrote.

In a follow-up piece, The Observer interviewed a few male Notre Dame students, who seemed to believe members of their gender were misrepresented by White's letter.

"I was raised to respect women no matter what they are wearing," sophomore Steve Ayers told the paper. "So, I think women should be able to wear leggings if they want to."

"In my opinion, I would never tell someone else how they can or cannot dress, because that is a personal choice, and it doesn’t affect me," freshman Kyle Dorshorst echoed.

It seems, in the end, White's letter may have had the opposite effect from what it intended, with at least one informal protest planned in response to it. Dubbed "The Leggings Protest," the event invited "people of all genders" to join together "in solidarity for the right to wear leggings" by wearing their favorite pair of the stretchy bottoms on Wednesday.

Over 1,500 people marked that they were attending on Facebook.

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