Something crazy happened at the Denver airport over the weekend: two young girls were barred from boarding a United Airlines plane.
Not because they were potential terrorists.
But because they were wearing leggings.
The controversy ranged from actress Patricia Arquette, and mom of two, tweeting: “Leggings are business attire for 10 year olds. Their business is being children,” to new mom Chrissy Teigen threatening to go topless on her next flight, to a CNN legal analyst defending United , to a clip on Fox News.
Here are the facts:
On March 26, a family that included two teenaged girls wearing leggings were admonished by a United gate attendant at the Denver Airport to change out of their leggings into clothing that complied with the airline’s “pass rider” dress code for employees, or others, flying using a reduced revenue standby pass. The girls complied, putting on dresses over the leggings.
A bystander tweeted her outrage about the incident, and the rest is history. United’s mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram exploded from its average 2,000 daily mentions to 174,000, with nearly 70 percent of them negative, said Kellan Terry, a spokesman for the social media analysis firm Brandwatch.
Half of the teenagers at my children’s schools would be stopped from boarding a plane if this rule became widespread. And I’d really like to see what United considers unacceptable clothing for teenage boys. And I personally wear leggings about 100% of the days of the year, whether I’m traveling or not. And I don’t think it is an airline’s, or our government’s, business to say what kind of clothing women or girls can wear, even when neatly cloaked in an official dress code. And. And. And.
The questions I think all parents need to ask ourselves are simple. What purpose does a dress code that applies only to females serve? How do our daughters feel about being instructed by strangers about how much of their bodies they can reveal? Would this incident have occurred, and gotten news coverage, if Donald Trump had not won the election despite many highly-publicized incidents revealing his deep disdain for independent, outspoken women? If millions of women had not showed up for the January women’s rights marches around the world?
My view as a mom of teenaged daughters, and a devoted leggings fan myself, is simple: this is a free country, and as long as we’re not walking around naked, we’ve got the right to choose our own clothing, whether it’s a burka or a bikini. I don’t care if United Airlines, or other institutions, have rules that certain passengers need to dress up. This rule is sexist, and stupid, and leggings are the most comfortable clothing you could wear on a plane. Get with it, United. Let girls wear what we want.