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Concerned Catholic mom pens essay asking Notre Dame coeds to stop wearing immodest leggings. Students respond in the most predictable way.


'Makes it hard on Catholic mothers to teach their sons that women are someone's daughters and sisters'

Timur Emek/Getty Images

A Catholic mom's open letter to young college girls has many people up in arms — all because she asked coeds to dress a bit more modestly for their own sake and the sake of others.

What are the details of the letter?

Maryann White, a Catholic mom visiting the University of Notre Dame's campus last fall, penned a lengthy letter about dress, decorum, and modesty. The letter was published on Monday in a student newspaper — The Observer — and titled, "The legging problem."

"I thought all of the other men around and behind us who couldn't help but see their behinds," she wrote. "My sons know better than to ogle a woman's body — certainly when I'm around (and hopefully, also when I'm not)."

White added that she felt "ashamed" for the women sprawled across the campus in thin, tight leggings and cropped tops.

"[My sons] didn't stare, and they didn't comment afterwards," she added. "But you couldn't help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn't want to see them — but they were unavoidable."

The Catholic mom asked female students to cease wearing leggings "because of unsavory guys who are looking at you creepily and nice guys who are doing everything to avoid looking at you."

White insisted, "I'm not trying to insult anyone or infringe upon anyone's rights. I'm just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings."

"Could you think of the mothers of sons the next time you go shopping and consider choosing jeans instead?" she asked.

White concluded her letter with some good-natured ribbing.

"Let Notre Dame girls be the first to turn their backs(ides) on leggings," she wrote. "You have every right to wear them. But you have every right to choose not to. Thanks for listening to the lecture. Catholic moms are good at those!"

What has been the response so far?

White's letter went viral across Notre Dame's campus, and by midweek, many outraged female students organized protests in response to her letter.

According to The Observer, at least 1,300 people of both genders said they planned on participating in protests connected to White's polite letter.

Anne Jarrett, a junior at the college, told "Today" that she helped spearhead one of the protests herself in order to "reframe the conversation" about the controversial article of clothing.

In the show's style segment, Jarrett said that her intent was to "make sure that not only is this not about women taking responsibility [for] making men not sin, but also making sure that this doesn't fall into the rhetoric of survivors who are 'asking for it' because of what they are wearing."

Others staged protests on social media, sharing photos of themselves wearing the offending article of clothing.

One social media user shared a photo of herself wearing leggings, and spreading and stretching out her legs while doing so.

She wrote, "[A] Catholic mom published an opinion in ND's newspaper that leggings Lead Men Into Sin so we're protesting our right to not be responsible for men and to not be constantly policed by morals or femininity #LeggingsDayND."

Another social media user wrote, "[H]oly jezabels! leggings AND a cropped @Irish4RepHealth tee?! #leggingsdayND #neveraninvitation."

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