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. I wear opaque black tights as pants all the time. I love it with a long, form-fitting top and a belt accentuating the smallest part of my waist. Very hip, very fashionable. Pair it with a cute pair of heels and bangles and you're all set.

  2. I am going to go with most of the comments and say that no, tights are not pants. And shirts are not dresses. But sometimes, sometimes there is a shirt that is almost a dress. But not quite. Or a skirt that is awesome, but perhaps a little bit extreme for everyday street wear. And that is where the grey-area tights come into their own.

    That said, the whole FA movement has sort of made me rethink this line for myself. I mean, it was only ever a personal preference. I don't really wish to see ANYONE's buttcheeks while I'm casually walking down the street. Then again, I don't wish to see a lot of things that I end up seeing, and I'm perfectly able to get over that. But there have been a few incidences where acquaintences of mine have vocalised that 'fat girls shouldn't be allowed to wear tights' in which case my response has been 'fuck you! They totally count as pants!'

    Essentially, my ultimate opinion is, my opinion of someone else's body and wardrobe isn't worht a damn, and I should keep it to myself.

  3. I love love love your Fat Gaga pic – do you mind if I use it as a profile pic if I give you credit?

  4. Tiffany not only explored the various jewelry processes of the time,Silver Tiffany but also branched out into new metals, such as platinum, Tiffany Jewelrywhich at the time was considered very hard to manipulate.Tiffany BraceletsIt seems to be the case that unusual colorations appealed to Tiffany, like the opal.Tiffany EarringsHe also preferred gemstones that were either opaque or translucent. Turquoise, jade,Tiffany Necklaces carnelian, lapis, moonstones, and opals were all chosen for their ability to filter light. Emphasis based on color was very prevalent in his works.

  5. I think it's wildly promising that people have started wearing tights or leggings as pants. After all, what were tights for originally, if not for holding in our lumpy parts? They are constricting and designed to make us look smoother and leaner. So I love the idea at thumbing our noses at this – we're going to appropriate them and wear them as outwear and flaunt our real shapes.

  6. Tights are not pants; they are tights. I personally don't like them worn as tights…but if someone else does it, it's not my problem. I'm kind of a liberal prude, if that explains anything.

  7. I realize I’m a bit late to the party here, but I really wanted to weigh in on my hatred of leggings (without longer tops) and see-through shirts. I’m working really hard on my own body acceptance, and I read through everything here before I posted. I also carefully considered why I hate the leggings with short shirt trend.

    I’m a survivor of early childhood sexual abuse. It’s taken me a long time to talk about it even somewhat openly (like I told my parents about it last year only two short decades after being molested). So I think part of it is my discomfort with seeing other people’s genitals in a public space. Maybe it’s old fashioned, but I think naughty bits are private. By which I mean they shouldn’t be for public consumption in spaces where they are unexpected (say the mall or school). It’s triggering for me. I don’t go to nudist colonies for this reason, but I think in the public domain I should be able to go about my day without seeing people’s junk. Also, as a social worker with many victims of sexual abuse/ children who have been exposed to inappropriate sexual contact, it’s a battle to teach kids appropriate sexual boundaries. I think when we make private parts into public domain, it clouds the message and makes my (young, kindergarten age) kids confused about why they shouldn’t be publicly masturbating, engaging in sexualized play, etc.

  8. I think that is a valid point. Private parts are nothing to be ashamed of, but they are private. However, leggings/tights on women don’t show genitals. I understand for a person such as yourself who has been scarred it may be difficult but where to draw the line?

  9. I feel like a lot of commenters missed the point of this post! WHY ARE WE ASHAMED OF OUR “NAUGHTY BITS”? “You can’t wear tights because then I might see your underwear! And have to acknowledge the fact that you have genitalia! You’re a dirty animal!”

    Maybe these commenters are actually dirty animals too, since they just can’t seem to avert their gaze when they see somebody’s body.

  10. Loved this post, but the comments, notsomuch. What has always struck me as *highly* hypocritical, is the rant that tights are not pants, and everyone is disturbed at seeing other’s ‘naughty bits’ ~ however having visible pantie-lines is apparently ALSO completely unacceptable!! You really can’t win when it comes to fashion, so you might as well rock yourself out any way you please. =)

    No one really has the right to tell anyone else what to wear, and looking away is ALWAYS an option.

  11. I’m going to agree with Amy’s comment.. it has nothing to do with body hate when i say tights are not pants. pantyhose are not pants either. as amy said- bunny slippers are not shoes. This is true for skinny people, fat people, hopelessly gorgeous people, and everyone else who wears tights as pants. wear tights- go ahead! regardless of your size.. just put some shorts or a skirt on over them (a look i’m still not overly fond of but that’s not the point).. you can make them short shorts or a mini skirt if you want to.. but tights by themselves.. are not pants.

  12. Maybe I just shop at malls with a more exhibitionist clientele, but I am definitely seeing clefts on the women I see in tights. Not to mention pretty clear differentiation with buttcheeks.

    And for the record, I don’t mind skinny jeans (regardless of weight) or panty lines. I think part of my issue with leggings is that the material isn’t thick enough coupled with the tightness. If they were thicker, I think it would be less upsetting.

  13. When I’m having a Fat Day (more accurately, a body hate day), tight pants and a relaxed fit shirt with a flattering neckline and shaped-but-not-fitted waist do wonders for my confidence. Especially with pretty shoes. I hope you don’t mind my $00.02 from a design perspective about who “should” and “shouldn’t” wear tights, hopefully I have avoided too many implicit value judgements with the following…

    What makes legs and hips and buttocks aesthetically pleasing is not size but shape, and larger girls’ lower bodies tend to have a sensual shape that thinner girls rarely approach. Tights/leggings are a shape-based garment too often mistaken for size-based. Tights don’t care about size, they only care about shape, and they are merciless.
    Tights are made for shapely legs. It’s a freakin’ design fact. Pants, no matter how tight or flattering, disguise the shape of the leg/butt/hips, whereas tights merely put a layer of colour and texture over the existing shape (which is, of course, why they are so intimidating to so many women who have the legs to wear them but wrestle with self-image). When you rock tights, you are rocking your own legs. Often, confidence and leg don’t match up because of size-obsession.
    If your legs lack definition then it doesn’t matter what size you are, tights are not your ally. They may be comfortable and sleek but they are also doing you no favours.
    If your legs are well-defined then it doesn’t matter what size you are, wear the hell out of tights, seriously. They were practically invented for you, so f- the haters and take what’s yours.

  14. I don’t want to see people’s underwear or the outline/suggestion of their genitals in a public space. That is why I am generally against people wearing tights as pants. What’s so wrong about that? It’s the same reason I don’t care to see excessive cleavage, or butt-crack, on people in public. I’m not sure that this viewpoint constitutes body-shaming as has been implied.

  15. Why are body bits so offensive to you? I think your objection to completely natural, beautiful body parts needs to be examined before you start projecting your own stuff on other people’s bodies.

  16. It’s pretty hurtful to suggest that people with legs that “lack definition” shouldn’t wear tights and conforms to the body policing that I propose is so harmful.

  17. It’s a fair point. I guess the answer would have a few different layers to it (for me anyway) – e.g. that, in our culture, genitals and other areas like breasts are ‘private’ so seeing them displayed in a public arena is confronting; I am not offended by people’s “body bits” at all but it is jarring to see them in a context that is not expected.

    I think my ‘bits’ are beautiful but I still wouldn’t put them on public display, which is my choice. I should clarify as well, I don’t actually think anyone should stop wearing tights as pants if they feel like it, it’s a free country and I don’t have the right to judge them.

    However, I still feel uncomfortable when having to see other people’s ‘bits’, I didn’t mean any offence by it, it’s just a matter of subjective personal preference which I think is fine, everyone has their own preferences about what they do and don’t feel comfortable experiencing in different contexts but it doesn’t automatically follow that a judgement is being passed, it’s just the feelings you experience, which in light of all our cultural conditioning (be it wrong or right I don’t really know) is understandable.

  18. Which is precisely why I avoided making any such suggestion. What I was trying to say (and perhaps I wasn’t clear enough) is that if your personal values include presenting your body in a conventionally “fashionable” or “stylish” manner and you do not naturally have the triple-s leg curve, wearing tights is not going to meet your aesthetic goals. From a conventional fashion design perspective, size is not a big factor when it comes to tights, and merely having thin legs does not automatically make tights a “stylish” option.
    Dress according to your personal aesthetic and comfort values. If conventional fashion aesthetics are not a part of your personal values, and you like the way tights look and feel on you irrespective of your leg shape (or size), then conventional style perspective is irrelevant and doesn’t apply.

    In retrospect I should have been more precise in my wording.

  19. When I can see a control top seam at the top of the thighs, it’s not pants. Leggings and things of a more opaque quality are passable, but anything sheer should be reserved for undergarment territory. It’s not about shame, it’s about decorum and dressing appropriately for day to day life. I’ve been a size 4 to now a size 12 in my adult life and I have the same basic “rules” of what is and isn’t wise for public wear no matter what my size.

  20. this is rude! it’s not appropriate to go nude in day to day Western culture, I don’t see anyone wrong with someone objecting to that. bodies are beautiful and assholes are lovely but excuse me if i don’t want to see yours at the grocery store.

  21. its kindve hard to define why i dont like tights worn as pants.. (irrespective of size) It feels inappropriate-like they are dressing way more intimately than they almost would want-the whole point of dressing sexily for a special someone is because its unique-its special that someone knows what you look like naked or basically naked. I dont know if im exactly invested in what other people are wearing too much (i wouldnt comment on it) Perhaps it is maybe because the top of tights/pants is designed to be covered -mostly- by clothing , its a bit like someone wearing a shirt inside-out, and so looks a little odd.
    We are invested in other peoples appearance because it says so much about how they want us to see them. Why else would describing someone else as well-dressed be a compliment? Clothing is simply skin-substitutes to preserve body heat. #yet we put a presentation value on them.

  22. I’m a fat girl, and I try not to flash too much of my unflattering rack, but I’m getting tired to cover as much as possible because “it’s not pretty”. I do wear short skirts and minidresses, I love them, careful to have my bottom covered at least when I’m standing… but you know, when you have a big ass nothing seems enough.
    To me here is where I draw the line: if you are wearing a dress, or a skirt, even if very short, wearing see through tights or leggins is perfectly ok, polite even. I do not like young girls wearing leggins with a normal lenght t-shirts beacause they do seem to have forgotten something, but I think is mostly my fashion taste than a problem with their way of showing their bodies.
    I also think jeggins are awfull, and somebody should pay for inventing them, and often they go way too up between the back cheeks, but again I think it’s stupid to say that every way to wear leggins/tights/jeggins is wrong. May be if you see me you’d think “god she’s way too fat to pull that off” but not “those are not pants”.

    (sorry for the bad english)

  23. i like the general idea of your post. one should never be ashamed of one’s body. but i have to disagree on the “tights are not pants” equals body shame part. for me it’s about respect. i love my body, even the private parts (for example i happen to be very proud of my bosom. i don’t know why, i just love it ^^), but there are certain parts of it that i feel are not appropriate to be shown in public. not because i don’t like them, but because i respect other people’s right as well as my own to choose how intimate with one another one wants to be. it is offensive to me to be forced into a situation that has a heavily sexual context to me with people i don’t want to share it with.
    for example a bikini at a swimming pool is just fine, because it is appropriate for the situation and i decided to take part in an activity that involves such little clothing, while seeing someone wearing no bikini top and a g-string bikini bottom would make me feel uncomfortable. it’s the same with tights: if they are worn in public i expect the one wearing them to make sure, that their bum is properly covered with another item of clothing not out of shame but out of respect for those around them.

  24. I say a lot that tights aren’t pants. And I never, ever body shame (well, I do sometimes, but I always catch myself and stop/fix it).

    I just don’t think that tights are pants. I really don’t. They aren’t proper pants.

    Unless your shirt is long. But a short shirt with leggings for pants is a big no-no to me.

  25. I always wear leggings by themselves (by tights I assume you mean leggings…sorry, I live in the UK and am not familiar with American/Australian terminology!). I couldn’t care less if people think it looks bad – I think I look good in them and they’re very comfortable. Yes the material is clingy and shows off my shape…but I think it’s sexy and I applaud any girl who has the confidence to wear them freely. Sorry but you cannot see my “bits” because I wear underwear and opt for slightly thicker material, not anything totally see-through!

    Why is a bikini appropriate for the beach? I have pale skin and do not like to tan, so a bikini is not essential for me. I wear a t-shirt and shorts. If a bikini is “appropriate” as you say, then anything else should be at any time too.

  26. Tights are tights. They are items of clothing that our meant to be worn on our legs under other items of clothing. HOWEVER, why do we just let it stop there? Why don’t we let people wear their clothing whichever way they want? Why can’t they be creative with their outfit choices and stray away from the norm? I would find this akin to wearing tube top as a skirt. It was an item not MEANT to be worn one way, but the wearer saw different potential in it.

    The majority of people commenting here aren’t just talking about THEIR personal preference, but are fashion policing OTHER people’s choice of how to wear clothing. They are find the site of natural human bodies even in clothing repulsive and I find that sad. Seeing someone’s panties, bra, or even genitalia won’t kill you and I’m sorry if it offends you, but you need to realize that we are all one in the same. We’ve been so conditioned to think that we need to hide our “naughty” bits that the mere flash of a pantie causes uproar and disgust. Seriously? We’re all just humans who have nearly the same body parts as the next. People seriously need to get the fuck off their high horse and realize that people should be able to wear WHATEVER THE HELL THEY want without being scrutinized for it. 

    I may sound overly progressive, but it annoys me to see people scrutinizing people doing anything different from the norm. 

  27. Um..no…  I don’t know what puritanical village you live in, but in my small town USA nudity is legal, even on the streets.  I don’t recall having run into, or ever seen any nudists, but it is not an offense.  My town is also very fitness centered, between all the Gyms, dance studio’s, yoga studios, martial arts studios and cycle centers, there are plenty people wearing leggings and/or other tight fitting athletic clothing.  I encounter them at Starbucks, at the grocery store, at the bank.  Not once did I ever think I was looking at someones genitatlia!  That just blows my mind.  Just because something conforms to the body, you consider it indecent exposure??  I’m surprised how many people walk around with thier mind in the gutter.

  28. Someone else made yet another LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS tweet and I was looking for this post to send to them. Reading the comments, most of what I see?

    Slut-shaming and classism.

    “If you respect yourself you wouldn’t dress so revealingly!”
    “Don’t you have a sense of respect? Of class?”

    FUCK THAT. The only people being disrespectful are *you*, silly commentors.

  29. I think that those who want to wear be it male or female do it but in the proper way respect yourself and respect others dressing properly . Am a straight male not a crossdresser but I wear pantyhose or tights just not openly because of society and the ridicule and name calling I do take photos that are proper . So I wear out under my pants unless at home and when taking photos I dress in a mini and heels with my hose to give a fashion look working on photos with shorts

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