moral panic

War on Leggings Waged at American Junior Highs

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Leggings! Are they pants? Are they underpants? Who cares? People who look at middle-school girls all day, evidently. Last week California’s Kenilworth Junior High school gathered up the girls in school to tell them they were no longer permitted to wear leggings because they were a “distraction.” According to the Huffington Post, it is the latest development in a national War on Leggings that has previously impacted comfort-minded adoelscents in Minnesota and Vermont.

“The goal is to teach kids to respect themselves and dress appropriately,” Kenilworth principal, Emily Dunnagan, told Patch. Bloggers have noted that such bans send the wrong message to students, suggesting that for female students, the respect of their peers and teachers is conditional upon their bodies being covered up. It suggests that, when you grow up, no one will respect you if you wear a pair of unraveling bike shorts to work, which, in this glorious age of telecommuting, I know to be untrue. The Kenilworth ban, specifically, also reflects dire legging ignorance. School authorities say students are permitted to wear “yoga pants” — a subcategory of leggings that was recently found to be among the sheerest. How can students be expected to take style advice from these people?

I was a tween once. I remember how skanky we dressed, which was only half as skanky as we wished we were dressed. Distracting boys might have been the point. You grow out of it. The point of middle school, meanwhile, is to expose you to more interesting things to think about than how to lure Jason from pre-algebra. (But, neon green bra + white camisole, if you’re wondering.) In the meantime, tween skankiness inevitably pales in comparison to the creepiness of their authority figures sound when they’re begging them to cover up. “Cover your butts up — I’m just going to say it straight up,” Minnetonka Principal Dave Adney told the local paper. “We’re seeing too much.”

If any middle-school boys are reading this — if the schools haven’t erected Internet filters for all legging-related content yet — I urge you to wear spandex to school in solidarity with your girl (space) friends.

War on Leggings Waged at American Junior Highs