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Is it Wrong For Boys to Wear Tights?

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Mom•Logic friend Rebecca Barry ponders her decision to buy hosiery for her son

ballet.jpg
"Last Friday, I bought our son Liam a pair of tights. It was the end of the week and he doesn't go to daycare on Fridays and so he and I spent the day together. I took him to the gym, and then to the co-op to get groceries, and then we went to The Cat's Pajamas, which is a children's clothing store that has a Thomas the Tank Engine table which can occupy Liam for hours. So Liam played and I bought three pairs of very cute, colorful socks and two pairs of tights. When I came home and showed my purchases to my husband, he pointed out that it wasn't really cost-effective to forgo daycare ($35 a day) if I come home with $50 worth of hosiery for a boy.

He didn't think the tights were a good idea.

I did. Here's why. I am always cold. My acupuncturist says it's because I have a damp constitution and eat too many damp foods (coffee, wheat, dairy, yes, I consider coffee a food) but whatever the reason, I spend the winter freezing and wear tights under my jeans all season long.I assumed that Liam, who my acupuncturist also at one time also pronounced damp, and who has no body fat, is also always cold. So I thought tights would be good for him. I also bought the tights because I feel fairly strongly that children should grow up surrounded by color. They should make colorful things, wear colorful clothes, be exposed to rich, strong colors all the time. I think it's good for their brains, but if you have boys this is hard to do. All the boy clothes are dark browns and greens and totally boring, unless you want to spend a lot of money on Petit Bateau sweaters which I would if I could. So I am always looking for colorful items for the boys and these tights were a nice purple, green and blue striped pair, which I thought would look like a very cute pair of socks.

"They're colorful," I said. "All it takes for a kid to look well dressed is a pair of great socks and a pair of cool shoes."
"You just think he's cold because you're cold," said my husband, who is not damp. "He's going to die of heat stroke. He doesn't need tights."
"You're just saying that because you're always hot," I said.

What my husband did not say is that he doesn't really want Liam to wear tights because he knows that although I love my boys to death I was kind of hoping for a girl and he thinks I keep trying to dress my boys like girls. But it's not that I want to dress them like girls, it's that I don't see why they have to be dressed one way or the other. Which brings me to the question of the week--does the way we dress our children matter?

Later in the car on the way back from a nature hike I asked Liam if he liked his new tights. He had just come out of the public restroom and said, "I have two things. A bottom and a penis."
"I love them," he said happily.
"Why do you love them so much," I asked, "Was it because they kept you so warm and cozy on our walk?"
"No," he said. "Because I look like Maggie."
I could feel my husband's smugness radiating from the driver's side of the car.
"Maggie wears tights, and skirts and dresses, and I want to wear skirts and dresses."
"But don't you like pants?" I said.
"Not really. When am I going to lose my penis and be a girl?"
"Oh that old chestnut," I sighed. ( See "boobs" posting.)
"That's not usually what happens," said Tommy.
"Well well well," said Liam. "When are you going to start being a boy, Mommy?"
"I'm working on it," I said.

In a way, though, he's on to something. I've always been interested in what Virginia Woolf called that man-womanliness, woman manliness that exists in all of us. On the one hand, boys and girls are wired differently, there's no question, but on the other, it seems that we are mostly just human, and tend to exhibit more masculine and feminine qualities at different points of our lives. Women after the age of thirty grow much more aggressive, confident, and independent, in my experience. (And after 50, watch out.) Men after the age of fifty are completely sentimental. They just start crying. I think it's all of those years of pretending they don't feel anything. So maybe my son just sees what we've all forgotten, which is that gender, like morality, like happiness, can be a fairly fluid thing, and that maybe the truth is that we’re all women waiting to be men, and men waiting to be women. Which is so fundamentally human--sitting around, doing the best you can, while waiting to be someone else.

Also, girls clothes are a lot more fun than boys clothes.

Either way, we're keeping the tights. And Liam's penis. At least for the time being."

For more from Rebecca Barry, visit Main St. Diaries.


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65 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous December 28, 2007, 2:31 PM

I can’t say that it’s wrong to put tights on your child, but if you want your son’s legs to be warm, why don’t you just buy a pair of long johns for him to wear? I live in Florida and these things are on sale everywhere. Then your child will be warm and your husband won’t think you’re trying to turn your boy into a girl.

Anonymous December 30, 2007, 7:43 AM

Dear Rebecca,
The only person(s) who has the right to choose the choice of clothes for your young son is you and his family. To me, you seem like an creative and open-minded person so why let other (close-minded) people in soceity influence you negatively or set the agenda.
I have a young son who also suffers from a cold body (especially) during the winter months. He wears tights, and I must say his health has improved remarkably. When he once asked if tights are for boys aswell, I replied “Of cousre! Look at all the super heroes: SuperMan, SpiderMan, BatMan, they all wear tights.” He liked the thought and felt himself like a super boy. Hope this helps. Take care, M.

Johs January 3, 2008, 7:17 AM

There is nothing wrong with wearing tights - even if a boy. All my kids - two boys and two girls - have worn tights when small. None of the boys wear tights for warmth today but have found similar clothes (unfooted tights made for boys/men) to keep the cold stay far away. I myself wear pantyhose under my suit. They are much better than long johns and make your legs look pretty good as well. (www.comfilon.com)

Johs - yes I am a male and 60 yo

Anonymous January 6, 2008, 4:48 AM

You should absolutely let the creativity and expression grow. That’s great. As he grows older, unfortunately, the peer-pressures will probably take hold. Hopefully he’ll still have that sense of freedom instilled in him and not be afraid to express himself.

Anonymous January 7, 2008, 10:08 AM

I remember as a child in the sixties my mother putting me and my brothers in tights because of the cold winters here in England. Tights were sold for girls and boys.

Long Johns are too uncomfortable too wear as they are not close fitting. I know only too well from numerous military exercises.

I agree about the choices of clothes for men/boys being boring. I walked out of a mens store recently when all I saw was a sea of black and grey!

I wear tights today for many reasons reducing leg cramps, cycling, (running in the past), dance and keeping warm. By the way I married with 2 children and the clothing does not define who I am. Hmm lets think about this …. Freedom of choice!

K January 8, 2008, 5:49 AM

I remember as a child in the sixties my mother putting me and my brothers in tights because of the cold winters here in England. Tights were sold for girls and boys.

Long Johns are too uncomfortable too wear as they are not close fitting. I know only too well from numerous military exercises.

I agree about the choices of clothes for men/boys being boring. I walked out of a mens store recently when all I saw was a sea of black and grey!

I wear tights today for many reasons reducing leg cramps, cycling, (running in the past), dance and keeping warm. By the way, I am a man, married with 2 children and the clothing does not define who I am. Hmm lets think about this …. Freedom of choice!

Richard January 9, 2008, 3:26 AM

Tights were first worn by BOYS (hint-hint)
and men in the Middle Ages.
The girls and ladies wore stockings,they weren’t allowed to wear tights.
I would buy my son tights and pantyhose.
Pantyhose are just sheer tights.
So, I fully agree to buy tights for boys.
I don’t wear longjohns.I wear TIGHTS.Makes more sense.Yes, I am a 56 y/o male.

Steven January 10, 2008, 5:37 AM

My parents took me to ballet class when I was eight. I only danced two years, but have been wearing tights ever since. I wear them around the house, running and to the gym. My son wears them also, but not as often as me. My ex called us her “ballet boys.” I work from home and wear them with a shirt or sweater most days. In California it’s not for the warmth, just the comfort.

Steven January 10, 2008, 5:43 AM

My parents took me to ballet class when I was eight. I only danced two years, but have been wearing tights ever since. I wear them around the house, running and to the gym. My son wears them also, but not as often as me. My ex called us her “ballet boys.” I work from home and wear them with a shirt or sweater most days. In California it’s not for the warmth, just the comfort.

Richard January 10, 2008, 2:15 PM

Well,”I can’t say it’s wrong…..”:
Tights were originally for BOYS and men in the Middle Ages.
So, it IS correct for boys to wear tights.
I do agree whole heartedly !
Some people…..

Like Ra January 11, 2008, 8:28 PM

What do you call tight here? Leggings? Pantyhose? Footless tights? I’ve seen many posts and articles in which leggings are called tights. Remember that basketball player who’s wearing leggings? The media have made a big fuss about it and called his leggings footless tights.

See how one word can change the attitude? Personally I consider tights (in all senses) absolutely unisex. But leggings are always worn by (for example) joggers. By both men and women. And nobody cares. So why changing a name suddenly changes people’s opinion?

Aiden February 4, 2008, 12:21 AM

What is the norm in one generation or family is considered abuse in another. For all the talk of tolerance and acceptance of others and differences, we have become a very judgemental society.

It is a pity that people get so hung up on this. Have some fun with him.

I recall as a pre teen being dressed by my mom as girl. Tights, skirts, the whole thing. A wig of course. We would go shopping or to the movies together. It was fun. We stopped when my voice began to break.

I dont think it did anything detrimental to me. Although I kind of wish that men could wear womens clothing the way women wear mens clothing, I realise that that is something that society is not comfortable with right now. No I am not gay. I dont dress in womens clothing.

Aiden


Dave February 5, 2008, 12:00 AM

I’m a 38 year old man who never touched a pair of tights until late last year.

Last year my doctor told me to wear tights as part of my gym outfit as they would help my legs improve their performance, reduce recovery time and increase circulation. I bought a pair of Skins www.skins.net and they are sensational. I get stared at in the gym sometimes but I am not there to be seen I am there to get fit.

I didn’t care about wearing them. I have seen other men in tights before - cyclists, dancers, gymnasts, joggers - and I remember a brief time in the late 1980s through the early 1990s when boys and men wore tights and biker shorts a lot as casual fashion (I didn’t, but then I was in uni away from mainstream society). Fashions come and go, some linger for practical reasons. Some friends of mine have their boys wear tights in cold weather, and the boys don’t seem to mind one bit. I have seen boys at shopping centres wear black jeans that look like tights, so I can’t imagine a boy wearing black tights these days is going to draw that much attention.

Some people have hangups about boys and men in tights because tights seem to be associated with women’s fashion rather than men’s (even though they were originally invented for men); others appear to be agitated because they counter the current ‘boy burqa’ mentality of male fashion designers who feel having boys clad in voluminous, shapeless garments is a good way to hide them away from predatorial eyes (how screwed up is that?).

To one who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, when males showed off their physiques wearing close-fitting garments in bright colours (not the females, who seem to have assumed that responsibility today), the current fashion mentality is baffling.

Bliss February 5, 2008, 9:27 PM

I am a barber and I live in a society that says,”No tights on the boy!” Do you want people to make fun of him?
I am East Coast all the way. Guys get beat up for that around here. I am not saying that it is right to hurt people, but it is my location. Your son is ultimately the one who has to decide, but don’t be mad if he starts wearing your best dress. You started it!!!!!

Soldier Boy February 19, 2008, 3:41 PM

I do not see anything wrong with it, you should be able to wear whatever you like regardless of gender. I am married two kids and have worn pantyhose and tights for twenty years for comfort and warmth.

Jeffrey1956 February 25, 2008, 9:24 PM

My own personal experience with wearing
tights goes back to my younger days some
three or so decades ago as a recreational Mens Figure skater. My
personal skating coach at the time had
noticed during Ice Dance sessions that
I began to chill easily during the class. She then recommended that I start
wearing a pair of standard Ladies skating tights under my trousers. It
seemed to do the trick perfectly. Not
only did it keep my legs and thighs warm
and draft-free, but it vastly improved
my circulation on the ice as well.

As of the post of this writing, I still
wear them practically every day during the
winter months and would not be caught
dead without wearing them each workday,
since I earn most of my living as a Foot
-based private courier working in the
Montreal downtown core. My favorite
make and brand of tights is the Canadian
-made Mondor 380 Cotton-Footed in either
Black or Navy shades in Large size.They
are exceptionally warm and comfortable,
and can even be worn as a double-pair
instead of lounge pants around the house. My wife, who was both a trained
dancer in her youth, as well as a recre-
ational figure skater like myself, most
heartlily approuves of my good looks
when wearing them 110%!

mike March 4, 2008, 1:52 PM

I first wore tights( actually a pair of my older sister’s black school tights)when I was sent to ballet classes at the age of 10 by my mother.I hated wearing tights at first, but over time realised how comfortable and practacal tights are.Something which women discovered years ago.

mike March 4, 2008, 1:53 PM

I first wore tights( actually a pair of my older sister’s black school tights)when I was sent to ballet classes at the age of 10 by my mother.I hated wearing tights at first, but over time realised how comfortable and practical tights are.Something which women discovered years ago.

Tm March 29, 2008, 8:46 PM

I wore tights as a kid. My grandmother and mom would put me in them. They were eastern european-descent so I think that’s why. I don’t know if they did it for warmth, or just because, but I did like wearing them. I think around 8 or so I realized that really only girls wore them so I just continued to wear them under jeans. Since then, I’ve worn them, but I don’t really flaunt it. I find tights very comfortable, warm, and just another part of my wardrobe. But it’s like being told you’re suddenly not ‘allowed’ to wear socks - it’s not as though you would just never wear them again. I just don’t go wearing them under shorts or anything.

Tm March 29, 2008, 8:59 PM

I wore tights as a kid. My grandmother and mom would put me in them. They were eastern european-descent so I think that’s why. I don’t know if they did it for warmth, or just because, but I did like wearing them. I think around 8 or so I realized that really only girls wore them so I just continued to wear them under jeans. Since then, I’ve worn them, but I don’t really flaunt it. I find tights very comfortable, warm, and just another part of my wardrobe. But it’s like being told you’re suddenly not ‘allowed’ to wear socks - it’s not as though you would just never wear them again. I just don’t go wearing them under shorts or anything.


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