Tights are tights

I see people say “Tights are not pants” all the time and it makes me sad because I sense a degree of body shame every time it is uttered (or typed). People seem to get angry at other people for wearing a simple item of clothing. Why? Why the need to take up this rallying cry so fervently? I don’t really think anyone who is brave enough to switch tights for pants cares, so at the end of the day all this chant does is reinforce negative body messages in the brain of the protester!

I may not wear tights as pants because I have a body that is typically seen as unattractive by society and I feel the oppression of that shame daily, no matter what I wear. (Don’t you feel it too?!) One day though might I want to put my balls on the line, nay the seam, and wear tights as pants because I feel they are a powerful symbolism of body love and acceptance. When I’m out and about and I see a person taking risks in personal styling by maybe wearing only a t-shirt and tights, I applaud loudly inside my heart and declare them my Personal Hero of the Day. What a terribly boring world we’d live in if we all dressed conservatively!

That aside, the more important point is that bodies are not enemies. There are a lot of reasons why we wear clothes but I think the most telling reason is to cover up our Terribly Rude Bits in some attempt to distance ourselves from animals. I really don’t think it has anything to do with morals – it’s more to do with shame. Maybe nudists have got it right, you could call them Kings and Queens of body acceptance! Certainly then those who wear tights as pants are the Prime Ministers of the turbulent state of Body Love.

(PS: Since this is a positive body space, I’m not particularly interested in comments in defence of the “tights are not pants” stance. I want to encourage you to think a little bit before regurgitating societally transmitted negative body messages.)


  1. hmm. good food for thought Natalie. I certainly used to be opposed to tights as pants but i do see your point. Maybe my brain needs a little refocussing on what the real issue is here.
    P.S super cute illustration! If I looked that hot I'd wear tights as pants for sure!

  2. I so agree with you. Who cares what others wear? Why are people so jealous and obsessed with slamming girls and women for wearing tights?

    Peopke should wear what they want and people need to STFU.

  3. Personally, I have been wearing tights as pants for years, simply because I actually like my legs! Haha. Tights are the best. And so are jeggings. I love how you can style tights with bigger tops, I think it's extremely arty/carefree and also comfortable. I mean, you can look fashionable and then go do some yoga or something. Not that I do yoga, but if I did, I would!

  4. I'm glad it may have prodded you a little bit! Some people are getting quite worked up over my post, which baffles me!

    And thank you :D Fat Gaga will rule all!

  5. It does make me so sad to see women hating on other women. We're totally ping ponging negative messages between ourselves and running our self esteems into the ground :(

  6. You are a MAVERICK! I wear a lot of leggings, but I feel like I would probably be howled down on the street if I didn't at least wear a top that would cover my butt. And that's an awful thing to have to internalise, but it's hard to counter THAT MUCH interfering body hatred on the street. But talking about it is good. Talking about it at least gives us the opportunity to point out the problems and the personal risks one must open themselves up to to be free of society's awful nitpicking.

    In other words, WEAR YOUR TIGHTS WITH PRIDE! *high five*

  7. You said: When I’m out and about and I see a person taking risks in personal styling by maybe wearing only a t-shirt and tights, I applaud loudly inside my heart and declare them my Personal Hero of the Day

    Why not tell them? Wouldn't it be nice if people saw other people wearing things that made them a hero actually voiced that out loud instead of in their head.

    Although also, why should wearing what you want to wear be a 'heroic' action? That indicates to me that it's something out of the ordinary (although I guess maybe it is)

  8. I would LOVE to compliment people who take risks with fashion but there are issues with doing that. Personally, I have social anxiety disorder so just being out in public is a challenge some days. And then you might have good intentions by approaching a stranger, but it may not be received very well. It's all frought with issues that scare me a little, to be honest. That's a sign of how effed up society is too, probably!

    It's true, someone with heroic style is taking risks and doing something out of the ordinary! We have so many rules in our communities about the body, and what we should and shouldn't wear, that breaking these rules can come with a penalty. :(

  9. This came along at exactly the right time for me! Thank you. I regularly wear leggings and tights as pants (because what the hell else are they!!!! they cover your legs!), and have to occasionally ward off flack about it. I also got into this dumb argument (http://molls.tumblr.com/post/482218287/complime…) yesterday… your post kind of makes up for it.

  10. Clothing is whatever you make of it. I have what I think are pretty good legs for a fatty but I have a bum that won't quit. So I wear slightly longer tops over my leggings if I don't want to go the full dress look. I have seen fattys with massive legs wear tights and leggings with small tee shirts and I think they look great. I have also seen the way some people look at them and even point and snigger. These same people obviously don't take much pride in themselves. Dirty jean cuffs, muffins tops and sheer white tee tops that show off the fried eggs. I'm not particularly shy any more, so when I saw one white trash “lovely” in the above, I casually said, “Have you seen yourself in the mirror lately?”. Now here I am trashing someone else, and perhaps it was wrong….but forgive me :D. I couldn't stand by and let someone have a go at a fatty who was beautiful, took care of herself, had awesome hair and clothes, be abused by someone who didn't look like they or their clothes has seen soap in while. I'm happy when people feel comfortable in their skin. I'm getting better and better and you guys who blog and showcase your clothes and style have really helped me with that. I'm glad I googled “fat blog” one day a couple of years ago. My life has been much better because of it.
    Natalie, you are gorgeous. I wish I had your lips. Wow!

  11. You know, I've mostly loathed tights as pants because usually the material too thin and look as though you're half-dressed (Lady Gaga), not because of how a woman's legs look.

    I just find the slightly translucent effect of cheap nylons detracts from a really good casual look. It reminds me of growing up in Woodridge, surrounded by woman who would walk out of the house in their husband's wife-beater shirts, ripped tights and ugg boots. No-one can carry that off.

    However, since discovering plus-sized opaque tights I'm very turned around on this issue. I love a good coloured tight now.

    However #2, I'm sick to death of all the plus-sized offerings being mostly short tunics and tights. I've never liked this look on me. It's too “gamine” for my curves and I always have the shirts hanging out from my enormous E-Cup breasts. Just a bad, bad look. I like a nice, fitted dress (to show off my curves) that isn't so short that it shows off my arse when I bend over, and some rocking coloured tights.

    I'm all for everyone else rocking the tunic/t-shirt and tights look, and more power too them. I will now follow Cat's lead and congratulate them as well.

    Great post Nat.

  12. I can't believe some of the backlash to this article. I mean, seriously? I think Hawaiian shirts are awful and noone should wear them. HAWAIIAN SHIRTS ARE NOT SHIRTS PEOPLE – NOONE WANTS TO SEE THAT. And OMG, don't get me started on acid wash.

    Seems like a misplaced anger to me and the politicising on something not worth politicising.

  13. THANKYOU!!!! I hate the policing of fashion. Why can't tights be worn as pants? Or as arm warmers or even as a hat if that is how someone wants to wear them?

    Bah Humbug to fashion police!

  14. THANKYOU!!!! I hate the policing of fashion. Why can't tights be worn as pants? Or as arm warmers or even as a hat if that is how someone wants to wear them?

    Bah Humbug to fashion police!

  15. I have a few very short dresses and skirts that I like to wear with skintight black leggings. I was wearing a new black dress with cute skulls on last weekend, with black leggings, a red belt, red shoes and a red headband. I felt fabulous!

  16. I can't agree with you on this one. And it's not because I don't think fat women should hide their legs, their bums or their figures. I'd feel the same way if Kate Moss or Jennifer Aniston were walking around in tights for pants. I don't want to see it because I feel ALL women should not show off their bums in that way, with only an extremely thin layer of polyester or nylon fabric between one's bum and the rest of the world. As I've written elsewhere on this topic, I'm fine with leggings and tights under a short skirt, long tunic top or sweater, as long as the bum is covered. But I don't want to get that up close and personal with any person's bum, fat, thin, in-between, male or female, unless they're a sexual partner.

  17. It has NOTHING to do with a negative body message. Tights look gross as pants on girls who are a size 2 as well as ones who are a 16. Same with leggings. They ARE NOT pants. it looks sleezy and so lady gaga. NOT fashionable at all.

  18. about body immage… and your comment about nudists… i'm not one… but i DID once go on a small vacation with a casual boyfriend to a very conservative NON sexual family oriented type nudist camp in New hampshire once… i can definitively say that was THE most relaxing vacation i EVER had… (there werent many families there honestly) but there were LOTS of larger people and older people… and even the skinnier people who out in most public places people would be thinking she (or he) looks PERFECT by societies standards when you met them up close and nude you realized that almost everyone even the “average” or usual “way hotter than average” by societies standards have sometimes odd flaws or quirks… like one lady had somewhat hairy nipples, not that you'd notice unless you were within 20 feet of her but she did… and people there are the LEAST judgemental people i've ever met … and there was NO stress… at that point in time i was VERY hung up still some on my weight problems though most people wouldnt have known it… but within a day there i felt comfortable walking around fully nude… it was SO awesome for both me and my partner at the time that he and i decided to stay an extra day.. even though we were normally very sexual people with each other and while we were there we had to restrict “play” time to at night in our cabin… however it WAS the most wonderfull weekend i've ever had… one of the people who OWNED a cabin there even had hooked up and broadcast wireless internet for anyone to use who was staying there.. so i was even able to bring my laptop out and use it for more than just reading (i read ebooks on my computer is cheaper than buying regular books) and wireless internet hadnt even been an advertised thing there…

  19. I am very, very adamant on the TIGHTS ARE NOT PANTS stance, and it has nothing to do with body shame. It's just bad fashion and looks good on no one.

  20. Why doesn't it look good? I was hoping that those who are so invested in what other people are wearing would delve deeper into why they are so invested but so far I have heard nothing but body shame.

  21. I also dislike tights as pants. I think it's because they tend to stretch/crease/bunch up in funny ways about the bottom-to-thigh region.

    I really don't think it's about body negativity, because I don't have a problem with seeing fat women in short skirts, tight pants, shorts, or nothing at all. I just really really don't like tights.

    On the other hand, I do agree that a lot of the “tights are not pants” rage I've encountered does have a lot of body-snark behind it.

  22. Sorry but I'm on the tights are not pants side when people don't cover their butts. No matter what shape someone its, the material for tights is too thin. I don't want to see a butt in detail, the same way I don't want to see a thong sticking out. For anybody. Its like…too…something.

  23. I detect your sarcasm, but I'll take your query seriously. It's appropriate to wear a bathing suit at the pool or beach, whereas I don't feel it's appropriate to wear leggings as pants at work, at school, etc. Under a skirt, long tunic, etc, fine. But not under a shorter top or sweater. I work at a public high school and see many young girls wearing leggings in this way, under a short top or sweater. It leaves extremely little to the imagination, especially if the leggings are made of very thin, nearly see-through fabric, and I don't feel it's appropriate or necessary.

    By this same token, I don't like to see people on the beach or by the pool wearing a bathing suit that shows too much. It's not necessary to wear a bikini that looks like next to nothing, unless you're in your own backyard by your own pool or in your own home. What you do in the privacy of your home is none of my business. But in public, I don't feel it's necessary or appropriate to wear clothes or bathing suits that leave little to the imagination. Have some respect for yourself.

  24. Great article on why people shouldn't be afraid to wear what they want because they're worried their body isn't 'good enough'. We're completely against you on 'tights-as-pants' but with some of the commenters here that tights-as-pants are a stupid look no matter how skinny or fat you are. Also, if one really didn't care what other people are wearing then why do you put people who wear daring fashion up on a pedestal and consider them heroic?

    At this point, tights-as-pants is far from heroic or original or daring. It's a fad. It's big enough to take a picture a day of someone on our campus doing it with very little effort. You're allowed to make fun of 80's hair after the fact, but you're not allowed to make fun of stupid fads as they come up? That's as bad as the fashion police.

  25. Fat or skinny, man or woman, tights as pants is as thirtiesgirl has said: unacceptable.

    I have actually seen slim girls wear tights as pants, and then bend over, only to have the fabric stretch and show me that they weren't wearing underwear underneath.

    As for the argument about wearing a swimsuit at the beach — it's the beach. Would you wear a bikini to work? Or lingerie to go see your new BF's family? It's not a question of WHAT you're wearing, it's WHERE you're wearing it.

    There are times and places to wear certain things, just as how wearing very opaque tights to do ballet or other types of dance is acceptable.

    I am ALL for body acceptance, and loving the way you are and showing off everything you've got…. but just cover your front & your bum; that's all we're asking.

  26. I'm firmly a member of the “tights are not pants” school of thought. I also endorse “bunny slippers are not shoes” and “'formal shorts' is an oxymoron.” It's not about body-hate, it's about having some sense of decorum and appropriate dress for a variety of circumstances in our culture. I'm sure that this makes me hopelessly out of touch, and I'm willing to make exceptions if you're wearing the fashions of a culture in which bunny slippers are considered the appropriate shoes to wear to a job interview, but in the United States in 2010, tights are not pants.

  27. I'm a woman from the “tights are not pants” school too, and also not because I hate my body or anyone else's body, but simply because I'm really tired of seeing the girl in front of me in yoga's underwear. That is something I can go without daily, and apparently she is not aware that unlike many pants, lots of tights are still seethrough when “opaque”. It's a courtesy, in my mind, to not flash my naughty bits to everyone around me — that is why I am a firm believer in tights not being pants. I think everyone else can at least do me the same justice. I love seeing form-fitting clothes; I do not, however, care to see your vag about 1 foot from my face.

  28. I understand the objection to “Tights are not pants” if people are hating on fat women more than skinny women, or are judging the “attractiveness” of the look based on their opinion of the body underneath. But what if a person just straight-up hates a certain look? I got so sick of those “live strong” bracelets, I was not a fan of the “hair-bump” ponytail when every woman at my college was wearing it, and now I don't like Ed Hardy shirts, no matter what the wearer looks like. And for me, it's the same with tights as pants. I see it all the time, it's unoriginal, and I don't like it on people society at large considers unattractive. Sometimes I just want to not see pudenda, though they are very nice in other situations.

    Are you of the opinion that it's impossible to hold any critical opinions on fashion or fads without body shaming?

  29. Tights are totally pants!

    I will say, though, that even though I support pant-tights, some situations call for a more traditional kind of pant. For example, if you work at a cafe/retail shopfront where the uniform is 'all black', this probably doesn't extend to black underwear, tights and a tshirt.

  30. I hate the tights-as-pants deal simply because I don't care to be seeing anyone else's panty line/thong/ass. It's not about body hate, because I honestly could care less how someone looks and think everyone's positively gorgeous, but that generally, the material tights are made of is far too thin to actually properly cover someone's underwear/butt, and I don't care to see it.

  31. i love your reasoning but still have to disagree. everyime i am walking up the subway steps and a girl wearing tights as pants is walking up the stairs in front of me…and i get an unwanted glimpse of her…you know…it makes we want to should PUT ON SOME REAL PANTS! it's not about body hate at all…it's about keeping privates private!

  32. Tights are indeed tights. If they were pants, they'd be pants. Tights are in the pantyhose family of clothing. :)

    I'm very fat-acceptance. I'm a fat chick myself. I'm also pan/poly and like to look at curvy girls. But tights just aren't pants. Tights worn *as* pants are just tacky, and they're tacky no matter what size you are.

  33. I don't think I've actually ever seen someone wearing tights as pants. Now, I've seen someone wearing a t-shirt as a dress…with tights under it. Which is perfectly socially acceptable. Anyway, who makes these rules?

    I like to cover up my Parts (yes, I'm that vague about them and yes, I capitalize it in my mind). But for me it's more about being picky on who I let see them than being ashamed of them. Anyone who HAS seen me naked can certainly tell you that I'm not ashamed, my size-18 jeans notwithstanding. I'm beautiful in the nude. I could write you a beautiful poem about me being nude.

    That doesn't mean I show that beauty off to just anyone. For one thing, that would just make the people I DO show it to feel less special. For another, I'd really like to think that I've put at least some distance between myself and, say, my cat, who flashes her parts at me in order to clean them whenever I'm trying to eat my dinner.

    All that being said, go ahead and wear your tights as pants. Or your t-shirt as a dress. You have my permission. Oh wait. You didn't ask for it. You didn't have to. And that is what I think these “tights are not pants” people are missing.

  34. err… are we talking about dress codes in the US and A? Cos it seems that gals only wear tights as pants in that beloved country. No-one ever EVER wears them like that in the UK… if they did people would think they were mentally retarded. It's only in the US that there's total confusion about tights, pantyhose, leggings… whatever. In the US tights are called leggings, footless tights are also called leggings. What's more, trousers are “pants” and you think it's ok for men to wear tights! There is no distiction between tights and pantyhose in the UK, or the rest of the world for that matter – tights are tights, either sheer or opaque, and leggings (that can be worn as pants) are a different creature altogether.

  35. Not to make a big deal about semantics, but the whole tights/leggings distinction is a regional thing; I've never been confused over the terminology. Pantyhose, on the otherhand, are always pantyhose; they are woven a different way from the heavier, opaque tights and are meant to match skin tone. Much of the external confusion over whether or not to call tights “tights” or “leggings” comes from their knit – are they nylon, or nylon-cotton weave? Are they lacy? The latter are sometimes called leggings, though honestly, I've never heard footed tights called “leggings” anywhere, except by gents who don't know better.

    Also, men can wear whatever they damn well please. I thought people in the UK were hip to that.

  36. That really just isn't true that people don't wear tights as pants in other countries. I'm an American expat in China and I think the tights as pants are rocked WAAY more, by women of all ages, in Asia. And I previously lived in a college town, the very epicenter of the tights trend in the US.

    Also, I've noticed that certain, bigoted people in the UK seem to think that Americans are often confused about the meaning of words, victims of ignorance as opposed to regional difference. Seriously, GET OVER IT. You no longer get to be the arbiters of what defines the English language. I teach my student the words SOCCER and PANTS. I also teach them football and trousers because I want them to be comfortable with any version of English they encounter in the future, but your rubbish is no more or less correct than my trash.

  37. THIS.

    I mean, if Definatalie's talking about tights as in opaque pantyhose, then yeah, those are not pants and shouldn't be worn as such. But if she means tights in the sense of leggings, those can be worn as pants, though they're about as attractive as biker shorts. :P

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