Notre Dame students hold ‘Leggings Day’ to protest letter from mother criticizing clothing choice

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A letter to the editor from a mother visiting the University of Notre Dame’s campus has sparked an uproar among women at the university after she urged students to stop wearing leggings.

In “The legging problem,” published in Monday’s edition of the campus paper, The Observer, Maryann White wrote that while attending mass at Notre Dame last fall, she noticed a group of women wearing leggings and short tops and felt “ashamed” for them.

“I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds,” White wrote to The Observer. “My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not).”{mosads}

“They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends,” she continued. “I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable.”

White pleaded with female students to stop wearing leggings “because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you.”

“I’m not trying to insult anyone or infringe upon anyone’s rights,” she wrote. “I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings.

“Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead?” 

The letter quickly spread across campus, and on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week students organized a number of protests welcoming women to wear leggings.

Both “Leggings Pride Day,” organized by student group Irish 4 Reproductive Health, and “The Leggings Protest” had more than 1,000 positive RSVPs on Facebook, according to The Observer. It was unclear how many people wore leggings each day in honor of the protest compared to how many were sporting them as part of their regular attire.

Yet another student-run event declared Tuesday “Love Your Leggings Day!”

“Join in our legging wearing hedonism!” the event read. “(Or not because what you wear is completely your own choice!).”

Dozens of students and alumni using the #LeggingsDayND hashtag shared photos of themselves in leggings and lamented White’s letter as an attempt to “police” women’s bodies.

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