During my first year working at my Dream Job, I wore a lot of tights. Looking back three years later, I can scarcely believe I put myself through this torture, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. I have never in my life met a pair of tights that fit me, that were comfortable, that didn't roll up into a fat wad underneath my belly the minute I started walking in them, slowly sagging down my thighs for the entirety of the anxiety inducing day. But I wanted to make a good impression at Dream Job, and I thought actually dressing professionally was part of it, and I couldn't find good dress pants that fit me, either, and I'm not that great at shaving my legs, so, tights it was.
Last year I discovered the dream of leggings and I have never gone back. One decent skirt + leggings = boom, a lifetime of semi-professional comfort. Even though most days my regular black or heather grey pairs go the best with my outfits, I bought a bunch of other leggings just to make me happy. Stripes! Polka dots! Floral designs! Collecting leggings, even if I don't regularly wear half of them, feels fun and liberating.
Leggings are also the go-to fashion choice for most teen and tween girls these days, much to the chagrin of adults everywhere, apparently. Really, it seems like leggings are in style for everybody, but it's just teenage girls that we want to obsess over and criticize, as is our American way. We have spent more time discussing leggings at some of my school staff meetings this year than we have about, oh, I don't know, the needs of special ed students. At the beginning of the year at the high school where I work, the administration tried to ban leggings and a group of girls immediately started a petition online. Thankfully, the high school realized they didn't want to fight about leggings all year and gave in pretty quickly. At the middle school where I work, it continues to be a bigger issue. Are they wearing a shirt over the leggings that reaches the tips of their fingers, long enough to cover their butt? Can you see their underwear? Are the leggings too tight? If any of these answers are unsatisfactory the girls are handed a pair of sweatpants and allowed to stay at school. I have a lot of feelings about this, some of which I have expressed. Speaking up at Dream Job is hard sometimes, but I'm trying to feel less self-conscious about doing it, especially when I know, in the most solid part of my gut, that adults are being ridiculous.
Honestly, sometimes you can see a girl's underwear through her leggings. Maybe she realizes it, maybe she doesn't. Either way, I don't think we should care. Almost every single girl I see wearing leggings looks comfortable and happy. Just like I am comfortable and happy when I'm in leggings. Because being comfortable makes you happy.
While I love my leggings, I've never gone out in JUST leggings, as so many of the teen girls around me do, without any skirt or dress to cover most of myself up. But today when I got home and took off my skirt, I realized I still liked how I looked without it. It was kind of a plain outfit--neutral tones, but the long shirt and longer sweater were comfy, and the skinny striped leggings particularly so. It's Wednesday, which means bar trivia night, a place where I never feel judged. So I thought, what the hell. Let's do it! Let's not cover up these thighs with an extra layer of fabric. Let's just go out like this.
And I was so comfortable all night. I felt as comfortable sliding off my bar stool as I felt curling up in my favorite chair when I got home, and there was something freeing in that. I eliminated that step, of taking off my jeans and breathing out all that my jeans had been confining in, of taking off whatever I had worn that day and letting myself just be again. Instead, I was able to just be out at the bar, too. And it was okay. When I got home and took these pictures in the poor light of my bathroom, I even thought my belly sticking out over those thinly veiled thighs looked kind of cute. I'm excited to wear this outfit again.
How comfortable we are in what we're wearing can affect our whole mood, our effectiveness at work, our everything. Tomorrow I'll put a dress on over my leggings again. But tonight, I'm grateful for the small bit of confidence I stole from the beauty and wisdom of teenage girls.