The Speech About Leggings

I didn’t know leggings were bad until after I graduated, so I never had to choose between freezing legs and the excoriation of the teaching staff. If there are two things Bais Yaakov maidels endure that is going to ensure them a spot in heaven, it’s cold legs in the winter and the discomfort of tights. I wore tights the first year I worked, and after that I switched to leggings and boots and I have never looked back. I still own a couple of pairs of nylon hell, but it’s just for old times sake. 

This is another story from lyl about the reason she was given for the frown on leggings. 

Whenever a teacher was out and there was no sub, the principal would hold a Q&A class, where we could pass up questions about halacha or hashkafa or school policy and she would answer.

One day, the question was, “What’s wrong with leggings?” They are more opaque than tights, and far more comfortable, not to mention more warm, but there was definitely an institutional frown directed at them.

Turns out our principal was very passionate about this subject. She informed us, in a fiery, brimstone-laden speech, that tights are evil for the following reasons:

  • When you wear leggings, you feel more covered up, so you start buying shorter skirts because you feel like the leggings compensate.
  • They just aren’t tznius.
  • Tznius people don’t wear them.

She continued:

“If I collected the top ten most tznius girls in this school, and marched them all up on stage, I could ask them ‘Do you own a pair of leggings?’ and I guarantee you every single one will say ‘No.’ Because real tznius girls don’t own leggings.”

In case you think this is crazy, the circular logic of tznius is a very common argument, since ‘not standing out’ is apparently one of the imperatives of tznius.

The Speech About Leggings

5 thoughts on “The Speech About Leggings

  1. DF3 says:

    If nothing else, the frumme velt that speaks Yiddish should have learned by now that “tznius” is noun, “tnzniusdik” is the adjective the teacher had meant to use, and that everybody makes up their own religion just a little bit.


    1. Esther S Bernstein says:

      Yeah, but “tznius” is Hebrew, and “-dik” is Yiddish. Admittedly, “tznius” *and* “tzniusdik” have become Yiddish words through natural language change and word loans. But the same way a Yiddish suffix was added to the word at one point, the suffix can be dropped at another point in the language’s development. That happens to English words all the time, and only purists insist on not allowing the change – until they die and their kids say “yeah, whatev.”

      Also – everybody makes up their religion – just a little bit?? Lol. I love this story – let me bring you proof that this is the right way to do things, because the girls who I consider to be good girls, doing the right thing, because that’s what I told them to do – that’s the way they do it. Therefore it must be right. Because I created that system and hierarchy within which this is right. Or at least I participated in the creation of that hierarchy.

      Also, that first reason – because it will definitely make you feel a certain way – hey, just because you get confused about the functions of various articles of clothing doesn’t mean everybody else does. Besides, the thick 60-denier black tights we had to wear were thicker and more substantial than some leggings. To be honest, leggings don’t keep me very warm in winter. I need to wear jeans or pants of thicker material for warmth. Or boots. Or maybe I just need to find thicker leggings!


  2. Rochy says:

    Thought I’d share my own experience with legging rules, in Israel, though not in the BY system. At a beginning-of-year parent meeting, an administrator was running through the dress code. She said that “tights” (the word she used in Hebrew) were not allowed. I was confused. I tried to ask the Israeli mom sitting next to me what she meant by that. The mom next to me started saying, emphatically, “tights? They’re disgusting (“mag’ilim”)! They’re inappropriate!” Which didn’t clear anything up for me. I finally clarified that they meant leggings, which are called “tights” in Hebrew. The Hebrew word for what Americans call “tights”- waist-to-toe closed stockings- is “garbionim”. I found the leggings rule a bit odd, as this school did not insist on socks- open-toe sandals were fine, though gently discouraged, conversationally, by some teachers. My daughter, at some point, decided that leggings were the most comfortable thing in the world, wore them up to above her knee, under her skirts, and this became the first of many cynicisms about the school.
    To clarify, this was a “Torani” (on-the-frummer-side) religious-Zionist elementary school. The school was semi-private, not part of the government National-Religious system, so they got to make up their own rules; in addition, the school was relatively new, and it seemed they were figuring it out as they went along. So the dress code on some points was a bit more stringent than in other religious-Zionist schools.


  3. Got to love circular logic.

    I think whoever convinced women to wear tights was a marketing genius. They’re clothing that tears after one or two uses. My girls only wear leggings, because they’re so much cheaper per-wear.


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