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It’s Possible Leggings Are the Future. Deal With It.

When did leggings make the leap from garment to cultural lightning rod? For what are essentially stretchy footless tights in a seemingly endless array of patterns and colors, they have been an unexpected source of controversy.


The latest uproar came last week, when Maryann White, the mother of four sons, wrote a letter to the The Observer, the school newspaper for both the University of Notre Dame and the nearby women’s college St. Mary’s, asking female students to ignore fashion and stop wearing leggings. It was for their own as well as the greater good, she suggested, in part because leggings made it hard for men to control themselves.

最近的骚动发生在上周,四个儿子的母亲玛丽安·怀特(Maryann White)给圣母大学(University of Notre Dame)和附近的圣母玛利亚女子学院(St. Mary’s)的联合校报《观察者》(The Observer)写了一封信,要求女学生无视时尚,不要穿紧身裤。她认为,这既是为了她们自己,也是为了更广泛的利益,部分原因是紧身裤让男人很难控制住自己。

The you-wear-it/you’re-asking-for-it implication of the letter, not to mention the sheer idea of censoring clothing, set off the predictable firestorm of protest, both on campus and off. For two days students wore leggings in a show of group defiance, there was a #leggingsdayND hashtag on Twitter, and assorted men and women posted pictures of themselves in solidarity with leggings wearers.


By Friday The Observer had another piece, this one from the editors in response to the furor, saying: “Having received over 35 letters to The Observer, in addition to the countless verbal comments, tweets, memes and class discussions about Monday’s letter, we have been astonished by the conversations the leggings piece has sparked.” Meanwhile, those wider conversation continued over the weekend.


This follows a 2017 United Airlines incident when two teenagers who were “pass travelers” (a category that includes relatives of airline employees) were prevented from flying because they were wearing leggings. Observers complained, social media got up in arms, and the makers of leggings had a field day; Puma, for example, jumped into the fray and burnished its image by offering a 20 percent discount on leggings to anyone presenting a United ticket.

2017年,美国联合航空公司(United Airlines)曾经发生过一起事件,两名“持通行证乘客”(这种类别中包括航空公司员工的亲属)因穿紧身裤被禁止登机。观察人士表示抗议,社交媒体上群情激愤,紧身裤的生产商们更是大闹一场;比如彪马(Puma)就加入了这场混战,向出示联合航空公司机票的人提供20%的紧身裤折扣,以此提升自己的形象。 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

And that in turn punctuated the endless debate among parents and schools and students that can be summed up as “leggings-are-not-pants/yes-they-are.”


In general this existential interrogation of the soul of a garment (because, really, that’s what it is) centers on women, women’s bodies and the general discomfort with seeing too much of them, or believing you are.


That’s certainly where Ms. White was going with her letter, and it’s generally the political offense used by those who are on the pro-leggings side: How dare you accuse me of dressing to seduce (an argument that has particular resonance in the era after #MeToo).


But leggings began their rise to wardrobe domination with the advent of comfort culture: the post-casual Friday turn-of-the-millennium move away from formality that picked up steam with the rise of fleece-wearing hedge funders, the fall of Old Wall Street and the fetishization of Silicon Valley’s hoodies- and Teva-clad geniuses, and became even more pronounced under the influence of the Wellness movement.


Leggings also function differently for different age groups: for Gen Y, they tend to be lifestyle signifiers that have more to do with health and activity than, say, everyday workwear; for Gen Z-ers, who largely reject uniformity and traditional labels, they are simply a basic, the equivalent of jeans. They are something you put on without thought.


    蛐蛐英语 www.qqenglish.com

Which is to say, leggings are about a lot of things, and sex may be the least of them — if sex plays any role at all.


One thing that was striking about the Notre Dame protest was the rejection of what they saw as the traditional gender assumptions involved. Leggings are not the sole province of the siren female was the idea.


In their editorial, The Observer’s writers asked, “Why has the legging controversy generated a larger impact than other controversial topics? Students and community members have spent hours debating the merits and faults of a popular clothing choice. But where is the willingness to speak up about other issues with substantial policy implications, legally and on campus?”


The truth is, it’s possible leggings may be simply standing in for those other issues. One of the great gotchas of fashion is that what may appear superficial or unimportant (leggings!) is, in fact, representative of a more complicated, harder to express reality (identity). This is what gives clothes their power.


As a result, what the leggings uproar may have exposed is not so much anyone’s physique per se, but rather a cultural fault line that runs through generations. This historical pattern includes miniskirts and jeans, Mary Quant and James Dean, and garments that seemed egregious and inexplicable to what is generally referred to as the establishment but play a key and highly visual role in upending norms to make way for the next.

因此,紧身裤风波所暴露的,与其说是什么人的身材,还不如说是贯穿几代人的文化断层。这一历史模式包括迷你裙和牛仔裤、玛丽·官(Mary Quant)和詹姆斯·迪恩(James Dean),以及那些对通常被称为“权威人士”的人们来说似乎极为糟糕和费解的服装,但它们在颠覆常规、为下一种模式开路方面,发挥了非常明显的关键作用。

Sure, it’s possible that is overstating the matter. It’s possible they are just stretchy footless tights that are easy to wear.


But judging by Lululemon’s recent results, which saw net revenue rise 21 percent in the third quarter of 2018, and the fact that part of Levi’s much-heralded IPO was attributed to the “stretch” now included in jeans to cater to the leggings market, this “popular clothing choice” (as The Observer labeled them) is not going away any time soon. All this suggests that the Notre Dame uproar may not be a fluke, but a harbinger.




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