The Leggings Paradox Solved

They’re not just for kindergartners, anymore! But are they for you?

For a long time, I viewed leggings as part of a particular type of clothing—a wearable insult. Themed sweaters also fall into this category.

Leggings, it seemed to me, were the sort of fashion faux pas that immediately classed one as a socially undesirable, Spam-eating “mathlete” who had eight cats. I speak from experience—I wore them when I was six.

It was in that year that I routinely got bloody noses at inopportune times and started to sport a white eye-patch, which clipped on to my glasses. I was legally blind in one eye—that was my only excuse for why I also wore leggings with giant, purple, velour sweatshirts. I looked like an extremely undersized, genetically-deformed version of Deborah Gibson. I can almost never forgive myself.

That’s why, approximately two weeks ago, when everyone and their mother started to wear leggings, I started to get panic attacks. I couldn’t believe that people were subjecting themselves to this particular brand of torture once again. It seemed so anachronistic and evil for the fashion designers to resurrect them. Were they in a coalition to incite anxiety in their favorite daughter—yours truly?

I ended up reasoning with myself, of course. “Fashion designers can never really be ‘wrong,’ in the traditional sense,” I repeated to myself while crying over a toilet. “They’re merely misguided.”

It was up to me to conquer my fear and buy a goddamn pair of leggings.

Thus, I found myself in the dining hall, sporting leggings, a tunic, a pair of cowboy boots, obscene amounts of eyeliner and a massive chip on my shoulder. As I stuffed pasta into my mouth, I became more and more uncomfortable.

The black thong was a mistake. The leggings, which were of an extremely poor quality, made me feel as if I was a societal indigent. Somebody asked me if I was comping the Advocate. I glared at them. The leggings were not a hit in the dining hall.

However, once I was unleashed on the Square, I noticed that the leggings had their good points. For example, they tucked into my cowboy boots more successfully than other pant-like objects. Additionally—and more importantly—I attracted an entirely new breed of men.

Generally, I only attract men with oozing lesions on their faces, who want to give me pencils when I do not need them. But, empowered by leggings, archetypal Che Guevara t-shirt-sporting, tight jeans-wearing, Jesus-haired smokers came flocking, giving me coffee solicitously, helping me with my books, and saluting me while I sauntered down the street.

Perhaps it was the fact that they could see the outline of my underwear. But possibly it was the fact that the leggings, in all of their French New Wave glory, made me seems loads more hip or sweet than I usually appear.

In general, I would say that the leggings were a success. They taught me how to get past my prejudices and embrace my inner Mischa Barton. They also delivered me to a world of new men that I have absolutely no interest in and generally despise. For this, I thank them, and will foist them onto others. But I can never truly habituate them comfortably.


1) Pair leggings with something rather long. Unless you are J.Lo, no one needs to see that much of you.

2) Do not wear a black thong with them.

3) Do not listen to Frou Frou while you are wearing them.

—Staff writer Rebecca M. Harrington can be reached at