Ladies, Be Decent? Leggings Be Damned!

A mother’s hilariously sexist pleas to protect her sons from themselves instead initiates “Love Your Leggings Day” at Notre Dame

Heather M. Edwards
5 min readMar 28, 2019


via Pixnio

“Pearl-clutching” is the internet’s favorite way to describe the online gasping of anyone with delicate sensibilities. And today that pearl-clutcher is a Maryann White from Indiana.

Although the ghastly incident in question actually took place last fall, leggings-clad Notre Dame students are protesting her sexism this week in a campus-wide “Love Your Leggings Day.”¹

White is a mother of four sons who wrote a letter to the editor of the Observer, Notre Dame’s student newspaper, after fuming for months. It ran this Monday and described four young women wearing “snug-fitting leggings” and “short-waisted tops”.

She is quoted as saying, “I wonder why no one thinks it’s strange that the fashion industry has caused women to voluntarily expose their nether regions in this way. I was ashamed for the young women at Mass. I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds. My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not). They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable. How much more difficult for young guys to ignore them.”²

I’ll admit it, I was already stretching my hams, getting ready to jump on the ridicule bandwagon until I read that critical detail — they were at mass, at the Basilica of Notre Dame.

So I need to pause my regularly scheduled programming here to clutch my own pearls. I have to say I agree with White. Not to prevent her sons’ hair-trigger erections but because everyone, male and female, generally follows a modest dress code while attending mass, likely more so at a church like Notre Dame. We self-regulate, tending not to wear anything so short, low-cut or form-fitting that our fellow parishioners are exposed to our functional nudity. We wear what would also be considered business casual. The formality of our attire varies but typically mirrors the architecture of the church we’re attending.