(WFLA) – A mother in Indiana is getting backlash online after writing an open letter asking girls to stop wearing leggings.
The letter, penned by a woman who identified herself as Maryann White, was submitted this week to The Observer. The student-run online newspaper serves the University of Notre Dame and students from other nearby colleges.
In her letter, White identifies herself as a Catholic mother with four sons. She says she has a problem that “only girls can solve: leggings.” White states that she isn’t trying to insult anyone or infringe upon anyone’s rights, but argues that leggings as pants are “exposing” and “unforgiving garments.”
White recalls in her letter being at Mass last year and sitting behind a group of young women wearing “snug-fitting leggings” and “short-waisted tops.” White wrote that she was ashamed for the girls and thought about the men nearby who “couldn’t help but see their behinds.”
“My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body…They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards [sic],” White wrote. “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.”
The mother says she frets because of “unsavory guys” who creepily look at women as well as nice guys who are trying to avoid looking.
“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,” she wrote.
White writes that she understands leggings are comfortable. She says girls have every right to wear them but also have every right to choose not to.
“Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead?” she wrote.
Students at the University of Notre Dame responded swiftly by scheduling a “Leggings Pride Day.” Organizers invited people of all genders to wear leggings in response to the letter. While they say the letter was “well-intentioned,” organizers said White’s view “perpetuates a narrative central to rape culture.”
Other Notre Dame parents also spoke out about the letter written by White. Heather Piccone, who says she has a daughter who attends Notre Dame, wrote her own letter to the editor to provide feedback.
“Instead of telling your son that girls are wrong for wearing leggings, instead of sexualizing everything, how about raising your son to respect women and view them as valuable beyond their bodies?” Piccone wrote.
Piccone states in her letter that the real issue is the wrong mindset being taught.
“My daughter is not responsible for this woman’s sons’ thoughts or behaviors,” she said. “I suggest this woman focuses on that with her sons; leggings are the least of this world’s current gender issues.”