The great leggings war

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Leggings, (used with a plural verb)

a. close-fitting knit pants.

b. the pants of a two-piece snowsuit.

The main issue with being a writer is that I foolishly keep putting things IN WRITING. Like the time I said that a seemingly minor dress code issue at my daughter’s school was not a hill I was willing to die on? Turns out THAT was a lie. I’ve just come back from the leggings war. My side is winning — but barely.

This conversation is about knit pants. Let me repeat that: knit pants. If there is a less sexy word in the fashion language than “knit pants,” I don’t know what it might be.

When said “knit pants” are paired with a long loose shirt (see also: tunic) or sweater, the wearer shows less skin than my great-grandmother did in her circa 1918 school uniform.

Dress code

The good news is that leggings are not actually against the school dress code. The bad news is not everyone has gotten the memo. For some reason, one staff member has made it a personal mission to stamp out leggings no matter what. This is where we are in the war on knit pants (who doesn’t love a warm leg?). The dress code says they are acceptable, one staff members says they are not.

The battle is being waged on the backs of female students who are not pulled aside and discreetly questioned or asked to change. I could live with that. I’m all about letting a fellow female know (quietly) when her slip is showing.

No. Knit pant wearers are tracked down in the classrooms and hallways. They are called out loudly and publicly in front of classmates and staff. They are appropriately shamed and then are perp walked down to the office. (In one incident, the “offending” outfit was one that the principal had complimented as “cute” on a previous wearing.) I suspect smoking in the bathroom would be a lesser offense. I know for a fact that smoking an electronic cigarette in class was.

Regardless the reason behind the leggings vendetta, the message is clear: One person’s dislike of your fashion choices is more important than learning. I’m a huge proponent of rules, but how does one follow them if they change daily — and sometimes upon the hour?

War

No reason is given outright for this war against polyblend. In most cases, the culprits, quiet well-behaved honors students, all meekly changed into jeans or sweatpants. It’s clearly the quiet ones you have to watch. One minute it’s leggings in Advanced Algebra, the next it’s knocking off liquor stores. Clearly, fashion is a gateway drug.

Bully

There you have it. The great leggings war of 2014. We chose to avoid conflict (we’re like the Switzerland of Dress Code infractions). Girlwonder quit wearing leggings and I considered the matter settled.

Then another student, and then another were also publicly chastised, embarrassed and in one case sent out in the rain to change despite a bevy of other staff insisting they looked “cute.”

The issue isn’t knit pants, of course. The real issue is that in making a huge issue of what a child wears to school, and taking her out of class to change into SWEATPANTS, hardly the go-to fashion choice for the “we take being here seriously” crowd. We are saying appearance is more important than education. We are saying that YOU being unhappy with what she chooses to cover her body with outweighs her right to learn.

I don’t really care who wears the pants — or leggings — but I do care when discipline becomes bullying.

So now I’m a mediator in the Great Leggings War. I’m taking it in stride, as battles go, but I feel pretty confident overall. If we have to take that hill, our team uniform is leggings. We just might win.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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