13-year-old battles school dress code on behalf of leggings

Leggings, even if they are considered thick active pants are not allowed at Sophie Hasty's Chicago middle school. (AP Photo/File) | Zoom
Leggings and yoga pants have made quite a few headlines for a simple piece of clothing.

Most notably, active-wear brand Lulu Lemon's co-founder Chip Wilson turned a few heads when he body shamed his core customers, blaming them for a problem with his yoga pants. "Women will wear a seat belt that doesn't work a purse that doesn't work and quite frankly, some women's bodies just don't work for it."

He didn't stop there.

"It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there," he said.

Chip Wilson said his company's yoga pants were too sheer and revealing because women's thighs rub together, causing a breakdown of the fabric.

Well, yoga pants and leggings are back in the headlines but this time, a 13-year-old finds herself in the middle of a battle with her school for her right to wear leggings.

Sophie Hasty of Haven Middle School in Chicago says teachers are on a veritable witch hunt for girls wearing leggings.

"I understand that they're kind of more sheer than they should be or more tight than they should be. But a lot of the types of leggings that we're wearing are actually the active type of yoga pants or leggings, which aren't as revealing as other ones," explains Hasty.

But she says the reasoning for banning leggings at her school is what's offensive.

"The first of what I heard is that it's too distracting for boys," Hasty says. "But then they kept changing it around to other things, like we need to look 'appropriate for school.' But I don't understand how leggings are inappropriate."

Hasty says it's kind of like saying that the girls are responsible and should be punished for the things the thoughts and actions of the boys in school.

"It kind of goes to the rape culture of everything. You can't tell us we can't wear them because of guys and that it's our fault that guys are going to look at us like that. Just like, if a girl (...) getting raped, and the person that's doing it is telling her that's her fault because it happened," she says. "I'm not saying it's as drastic as that, but that's what I've seen and I kind of agreed with it. They're blaming us. But it's not our fault."

So she fought the policy, but the school is hesitant to change its stance on leggings.

When Sophie and her girlfriends held a leggings protest - by all wearing leggings at school one day - the district decided to discuss the matter at a school board meeting.

"One teacher said it can look like they're painted on," Hasty says. "And yeah, I understood that. But not for all types of leggings."

In the end the school bent, just a little, and allowed yoga pants (seen as the lesser of the two offending pants) but leggings are still banned unless girls wear a t-shirt long enough to cover up.

Sophie still plans to fight the ruling but says this has brought all of the teen girls at her school closer: like a feminist fairytale.

"That definitely made us relate to each other more and get closer to each other, even without knowing each other, and maybe not even knowing each others' names. It definitely brought us together more."

Colleen O'Brien, KIRO Radio Morning News Anchor
Colleen O'Brien anchors The Morning News on KIRO Radio, weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m.
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