How many times have you heard -- or even said -- the phrase "Leggings aren't pants"? Do you know why people say that? Do you know where it comes from? My answers to the above questions are, respectively: too many times to count; ¯\_(ツ)_/¯; and no, but I did spend a week of my life searching the web furiously for the origin story. Someone somewhere at some time said it, and now, it's revered by many as law alongside other ubiquitous sayings that don't check out, like "Don't wear white after Labor Day" or "Never mix black and brown." Well, watch out leggings-haters, because I'm here to kill your catchphrase.
The reality is, "pants" are defined as "a piece of clothing covering the lower part of the body from the waist to the foot, and including separate sections, joined at the top, for each leg." Sounds exactly like leggings, right? That's because leggings are pants!
Leggings have been wardrobe staples for many women for at least a decade now, but they've come into a new heyday thanks to the rise of athleisure as the dominant fashion movement of the moment. Unfortunately, just because leggings are more popular than ever, doesn't mean their haters have softened.
The phrase "Leggings aren't pants" has reemerged with a vengeance. At surface-level, the saying might seem innocuous, but the reasons people often argue to defend it perpetuate two deeply misogynistic ideas: (1) if a woman's body is conventionally good-looking, she needs to cover up because she's sexually distracting and (2) if a woman's body doesn't fit within society's narrow beauty standards, she needs to cover it because no one wants to see it. All of which is bulls--t.
Because of ideas like these, female students in the 21st century are subject to gross humiliation and being removed from classes en masse just for wearing leggings. I think we can all agree that young women being punished for wearing pants to school is in no way fair or just or helping anyone.
Not only is the saying "Leggings aren't pants" laden with sexism, it's just plain untrue. Leggings are pants. Let's all move on now.