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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

"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
martin May 22, 2008, 2:57 PM

My mom bought me my first pair of tights at 8 years of age.I too suffered from the cold.I have worn them during winter months ever since.

Anonymous May 30, 2008, 8:58 AM


SID July 15, 2008, 11:09 PM

Hey I have been so damn cold that it was a pleasure to wear thick tights. However they have their drawbacks, we guys don’t shave our legs (thank god) so when you walk they pull on the hair, they are restrictive to the leg movement, finaly they realy don’t look all that good on you. Under extreems great to have but to wear all the time no way.

nun ya August 31, 2008, 1:10 AM

im 14 years old and i wear tights to keep warm and i see nothing wrong with it
so do wat u wanna doo
im sure ur son will thank u when his older

Joey September 2, 2008, 11:35 PM

I wore tights when I was young and ever since I was faund of wearing tights but when I was around 6 I stopped wearing tights in public. usually I had to wear tights when no one is looking and were jeans over them. I say that tights are very comfortable, nice, and warm. I say tights were the best clothing I’d ever wore. Even today I wear them.

Joey September 2, 2008, 11:36 PM

I wore tights when I was young and ever since I was faund of wearing tights but when I was around 6 I stopped wearing tights in public. usually I had to wear tights when no one is looking and were jeans over them. I say that tights are very comfortable, nice, and warm. I say tights were the best clothing I’d ever wore. Even today I wear them.

Martin September 8, 2008, 8:51 AM

I do wear tights cos it make me very comfortable and feel good when put it on - I find tights are great than boring socks, men can wear tights for numbers of reason there is nothing wrong with it. I have lots of pairs of opaque tights that I wearing with cool mini skirt that still normal clothes. Tights help my muscle that why I suffered from muscle problems so wearing tights help to heal down so just wear and go out somewhere - just with short or skirt that allow for men to wear it :)

Anonymous September 29, 2008, 12:47 AM

buy him skiny jeans and a colorful shirt

Anonymous September 30, 2008, 7:14 AM

I’m a guy and this is my point of view:

Hmm..I explored my own sister’s wardrobe for those curious long things myself. Not permitted to wear them but they do keep me comfy and snug, especially on cold rainy days.

I didn’t feel like going over to the feminine side although there were times I had wild fantasies.

Basically, I’m saying that children generally choose which gender subconsciously from as young as 6. So to remove any tendencies to sway, I’d suggest removing tights or shortening them to knee length as that may be more suitable. As for cold periods, do as the other moms have been talking about … but in my opinion synthetic jeans is the best…cotton just absorbs the cold moisture right thru.

Mandy  December 22, 2008, 10:38 AM

Hi Rebecca,I wore a pair of my sisters pantyhose when I was 8 .She made me wear them most of the day with a skirt. II really loved the feel when my 2 sisters put them on. I was fighting them at first but when they were on my legs at first I gave in like they had me I can not tell you what comfort they have ,. I took ballet at 29 for 10 years wearing tights yes even makeup I am married and my wife met me at a show I was doing as a woman I love pantyhose n tights .

Robbie January 19, 2009, 10:36 PM

When I was around 10, I started to sleep in the nude because my pajamas were too bulky and I couldn’t move around in bed easily.
My mom didn’t think too much of it as she’d come in my room in the morning and see me laying there naked if I had kicked the covers off. She bought me 3 pair of tights and said that she’d like me to try sleeping in them.
I though it was sissy for a boy to wear tights, but since no one was going to see me, I pulled them on and went to bed. I think they were nylon or something like that, and I loved the feel and how slippery they were in bed. It wasn’t long till I’d get up in the morning and go to breakfast wearing my tights. Then I just wore them around the house all the time ever since. My mom was thrilled that I liked them. When actually I loved them.

Anonymous January 27, 2009, 4:52 PM

i’m a boy of 14 years and all of me and my mates at school wear tights and even skirts. The school uses a antisexisum rule by giving the boys girls clothes.

JamieCanada February 14, 2009, 1:12 AM

About 10 years ago when I was 9, I had a similar experience to someone above. I was really mad at how cold my legs were, even though they felt warm to the touch. My sister suggested tights, and not in a teasing way (she was and still is my best friend). Well, I fell in love with them right away, and could not for the life of me figure out why they had to be ‘girls’ clothes. I wore them under a pair of sweats and Mom asked me about them (she knew they were tights because my sweats would ride up on the leg a lot). Once she knew I liked them, it was only a few weeks before I had about half a dozen pairs show up in my drawer. I wore tights all the time for the rest of the summer. One of them was really thin (I found out later they were pantyhose), in an electric blue color I loved. The first time I wore them, I got into bed and could not believe how neat they felt; it was like my legs just slipped and slid all over on the covers I had back them. Always had the thicker tights on under my pants during winters from then on, and I still do.

danny February 15, 2009, 6:52 AM

when i was 8 i had a fever,before i went to bed mum was in the room holding a pair of tights open and helped me get them on to sleep in..the next morning i got up..went to make breakfast when my sister came in and asked “you have girks stockings on,,why are you wearing girls stockings”.i thought nothing of it.a while later my cousin came over from next door wearing pantyhose.she was 9 and found a bagfull ofd old ones.i was discussing the tights and her pantyhose and she asked me if i wanted a pair..ok,so off she went and came back a few minutes later with them.i put them on and they felt better than the tights,ive been wearing pantyhose for 34 years now.theyre supprisingly warm in winter

Pilar February 18, 2009, 5:58 AM

I was up in the middle of the night on-line looking for tights for my son - not easy. He loves stockings, especially in the winter, and I’ve been thinking about starting a company to import stocking in colors and designs for boys, because it is rather common in Europe. My son, also a Liam (6), will put long-johns over them if it is particulary cold, as this winter has been, but he prefers them to socks alone. I’ve just bought beautiful, cozy, comfortable tights from Germany, organic cotton and wool. Why shouldn’t anyone, boys too, enjoy them? I don’t know where the notion that this type of leg covering is only for females came from, but it’s not just unsensible, but terribly sexist on the part of men and women alike!

Kerry March 21, 2009, 8:06 PM

My 13 year old son kept on about how cold it was over the New Year weekend and his sister (15) asked him if he wanted to borrow a pair of her tights to help keep warm.
He took her up on the offer, and to be fair to him, he did ask me if this was ok, I just said it was up to him and that I didnt mind.
3 months on, he still wears them fairly often under his jeans when he is indoors. (though he doesnt wear socks over them).

I am ok with him wearing tights and he now has a few pairs of his own to wear.


robert May 4, 2009, 8:46 AM

I have go lots of black tights i love my blacl rib tights.

JamieCanada May 17, 2009, 9:17 PM

One strange thing I’ve noticed; while it seems almost ‘normal’ for very young boys in northern European countries to wear tights, boys in Canada haven’t done so… until recently. My posting above (5 posts above this one) shows my mom didn’t really have anything against the idea, and I’m finding it happen again, with my little brother and at least two of his young friends. Jeremy is 10, and he and Thomas both wear tights around the house now. Well, not right now so much… it’s finally getting warm during the day. The other thing I’ve noticed is that somehow, a boy either rejects them outright even after trying them (strictly peer pressure?) OR he almost seems to become adicted to them. That would be what happend with both me and Jeremy. I’ve tried to pull his ‘socks’ off several times to tickle him, only to find those long things under his jeans won’t come off that way :). I know this is probably the extreme, but it DOES seem that the kids I know that wear tights at all, wear them quite often.

kicker May 27, 2009, 10:42 PM

I think it is ok for men and boys to wear tights or pantyhose. you should be able to wear what you want to. If you are a guy who has not tried wearing tights yet do. They will change your opinion.

SoV June 8, 2009, 8:46 AM

I’m a 16 year old straight boy and I love to wear tights. I could never tell anyone about it though, I’ve got a hidden box of about 20 pairs of them in my room which I like to get out most nights so I can wear a pair of tights when I go to bed. :)

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