Shut Up Already: Leggings Are Totally Pants (Or Whatever You Want Them To Be)


Here’s one thing I absolutely love about being alive at this particular place and time: The prevalence and popularity of leggings. I am so grateful that I have the ability to wear something so convenient and comfortable to keep my body warm and stylish. Here’s one thing I absolutely hate about being alive at this particular place and time: The prevalence and popularity of snotty opinions on leggings and how women wear them. Are they pants? Are they tights? Do we care? UGH.

Now, I know the debate of “Are leggings pants or not?” has been done to death, including right here on The Gloss. But I’ve seen and heard it popping up again lately, including in my own personal life. So, I just want to set the record straight and debunk some of these damn myths about the wearing of leggings.

MYTH: If you’re a woman of size, you shouldn’t wear leggings.
This is fucking ridiculous, almost too ridiculous to address, but it’s a sentiment I often see expressed by internet trolls and dudebros alike. And it’s not only men that say this! A woman I went to college with posted some kind of snarky comment about a larger person she saw wearing leggings on Facebook just recently. Yup, defriended.

When people say that only thin women have the right to wear leggings, that’s body-shaming. Or maybe we should call it clothing-shaming? Either way, it’s an attempt to police the bodies and the choices of women based on arbitrary societal rules about what bodies are acceptable. It’s judgmental and it’s not ok. Stop it.

MYTH: If you wear leggings, you’re a lazy and slovenly dresser.
Wanting to be comfortable means you suck at fashion? No. No. We no longer live in a world where women need to wear gloves, hats and pantyhose just to go to the department store. It’s not 1955. If you think leggings make you look lazy, don’t wear them in public. And hey, just look at Emma Watson‘s Golden Globes outfit. Whether you like it or not, girl is NOT slovenly.

MYTH: You’re wearing leggings to turn guys on.
So, we’ve already seen how the discussion around leggings can easily turn to body-shaming. BONUS TIME! Women who wear leggings can get slut-shamed, too!

Because, if you wear leggings, it’s obviously because you want dudes to check out your ass. It’s clearly because you think you look like hot shit and you want your body admired. It has nothing to do with your comfort level, your plans for the day, or what is happening in your life at that moment. Nope, the only reason women wear anything, including leggings, is to attract male attention.

MYTH: Leggings are for young women. 
If you’re over a certain age (40? 50? 60?), you shouldn’t wear leggings because they’re too tight, they show too much of your body, and well, you’re just TOO DAMN OLD. Nope. Not true! Leggings are for anyone who wants to wear them, no matter if they’re fresh out of the womb or freshly admitted to a nursing home.

I think we definitely could continue to debate things like the proper fabric thickness, if you must wear a top that covers your ass when you wear leggings, if leggings should be worn with flip-flops and the finer points of cotton/Spandex/Lycra blends. But, in summation:


I really can’t say it any better than this Redditor starspinningdizzy did:

So why don’t we stop making arbitrary rules on what people can wear in public (as long as it doesn’t break some sort of health code) on the grounds that certain looks might make us uncomfortable or grossed out. You don’t like a certain fashion/style/look? Fine. You’d never wear it yourself? Fine. You silently judge people who do wear it? Fine. Just don’t try to turn your opinion into an obligatory social rule by stating it loudly in public or repeatedly in social media, and keep your judgements to yourself. And let the rest of us wear our leggings with our long sleeved t-shirts and be done with it.

Amen. Praise. Turn your legs towards the direction of this comment and genuflect five times a day while wearing or not wearing leggings.

Photo: Cavan Images via Getty Images

Share This Post:
    • CMJ

      I’m 100% okay with leggings as pants. But tights, tights are not pants.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      ah thank you! I hope guys read this article for myth #3. and the ceo of Lululemon basically argued myth #1 with his thighs rubbing together garbage. I LOVE LEGGINGS

    • Andrea

      Covers your legs=pants. The same as a mini skirt is still a skirt no matter your size or age. I also hate when people bash leggings but are all for yoga pants. THEY’RE THE SAME THING!

    • Madison

      I wish I could personally hand this article to so many people. Thank you!

    • Crayzcheshire

      Leggings > Jeans ANY day.

    • MoLiss

      I have loved leggings since they came back into style, but now that I am 5 months pregnant I am OBSESSED with them. I have one pair of maternity jeans I’ve only worn a couple times because I wear leggings almost everyday. They are a lifesaver! So cute and the comfiest thing you could possible wear on the bottom when preggo.

      • MoLiss

        Oh also, I’d recommend maternity leggings to anyone even if you’re not pregnant. Just get them in your regular size. They make them without the full panel. If you think leggings are comfortable, you have no idea! They are way softer than regular leggings and I’ve found they are less likely to be see through because they are meant to stretch as you get bigger. :)

    • tifygodess24

      I agree leggings can be pants if they are not so thin they look like tights , but with that said please don’t wear them SO tight that I can describe in detail what your significant other or Gyno should only know …. And I’m not just talking about a little camel toe…. Yuck lol ;)

    • Amanda Lee

      Eh on the leggings as pants… They are ok as long as you’re wearing a tunic type shirt (aka something to cover your butt, even if it barely does so). I do not need to see every bulge, nook, and cranny on your thighs, butt, and crotch.

      And please make sure that they don’t become sheer when stretched! I have been behind too many a girl where her shirt stopped around the hip area and I could see her thong and crack through the material. My eyes will never recover.

    • Sexlovesounds

      I have come to the conclusion that I do not care at all what anyone wears. I don’t care how much of your body I see or how “slutty” you look, I don’t give a flying fuck. Wear whatever you want.

      • KathleenCat

        Mostly ditto, but with one limit- do not wear clothes that allow your bare genitalia to make contact with any public surface. For everyone’s safety. If you wouldn’t lick a bus seat, don’t put your privates directly on it. That’s all I ask.

        Beyond that, go for it.

      • Sexlovesounds

        Good call!

    • Sakiski

      What about the myth that leggings are not for guys?

    • Charmless

      I’m trying to figure out when, in my lifetime, leggings haven’t been trendy. A few years from the late ’90s through the early aughts? Maybe? Because I wore the shit out of them when I was a kid, but I was too oblivious in my teens to be aware of what the normals were wearing.

      Regardless, high quality leggings can be pants, but I would prefer to not see your camel toe and I will not listen to anybody argue that leggings are comfortable when their labia are munching on the crotch seam. I also reserve the right to judge you if they’re cheap and transparent and I can see your underoos, not just the pantyline, but color and pattern.

      • RCIAG

        Wait, you’re supposed to wear underwear under leggings? Color me surprised!

      • Charmless

        I’d advise a thong, simply because you can’t really tell exactly how transparent they might be unless you stand in front of a mirror and do a whole “bend and squat” routine. It’s also not even an option to go commando if you have pubes. They’ll poke through.

    • KathleenCat

      And if your weight goes up and down a lot, leggings (and yoga pants) can sometimes be the only pants you own that fit you.
      Like when you are foolish enough to listen to someone who tells you to give away clothes over a certain size once you’ve lost weight, because then you’ll have to keep the weight off.
      Sorry to report- it does not work that way.
      So, yes, sometimes leggings have to be pants because they just HAVE to be!

    • Rosario

      What about guys wearing leggings? Is it OK or not? I have been wearing leggings since the early 80″s. I wear them because they are comfortable, not to show off my private parts. I haven’t had any comments either way as weather it’s acceptable for guys to wear women’s leggings.

    • leggingsaspantsforpresident

      I wear leggings as pants all the god damn time! Got a problem with it? FUCK YOU!

    • AK

      this is the worst article ever. I get that the author is trying to treat everyone equal but it’s known fact that not all styles can suit every body type. Trying to justify that the same stretch of legging cut in the same way but just in different sizes can flatter all kinds of people is just being naive. I’d love to see different styles of leggings, just like they have different styles of jeans for different women.

    • Leuver68

      Those societal rules are not arbitrary. Some body types are not attractive.