Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Guest post: Boys in tights - a mum's perspective

Becky Fuller is one of the many female readers of Hosiery For Men.

Becky is a freelance theatre, film and TV writer, reviewer and editor who lives in the south-west of England. She is a mother of a girl age 11, and boys age six and eight.

Her website is ByBecky and she tweets at @Theatregleek1.



Becky recently asked Hosiery For Men for advice on where to find tights for boys who were older than 36 months. Her youngest son had asked for tights with a unicorn or penguin design but she couldn't find these anywhere.

In her research of products available, Becky found that for boys up to three years there were many different styles of tights available, but for boys aged four and over there was nothing aimed at them.

Becky has now written a guest post for Hosiery For Men where she reflects on the practicality of tights for boys in cold weather, but also the gendered assumptions made about boys wearing tights that perpetuate stereotypes.

Boys in tights: a mum's perspective


As I write this, I have all the windows open, bright sunlight streaming in, and I’m in my shorts, so it seems hard to think that winter will soon be upon us, but it will. For my daughter, a lifelong dresses and skirts devotee, that means she will start to pull on her thick, fleecy tights; black ones for school days and then, at the weekend, a whole host of colours, patterns and designs that she will team with boots and dresses, or even some shorts. For my sons, that means they’ll make the transition from shorts, back into trousers.

When both of them were babies, I used to dress them in their sister’s cast off tights. I also once, to my total joy, found tights for boys in Lidl; pale blue with Mickey Mouse all over them. They wore them a lot. Then, once they got to around age three, I stopped putting them in tights, figuring people would think it strange. It took my neighbour, who was raised in Germany, to point out that boys over there wear tights under their trousers all winter, and it made perfect sense to me.



Keeping warm


The problem with boys school trousers is that they’re thin. Even when you buy from ‘better quality’ shops, the material used for boys trousers is much thinner than the thick jersey material you get for girls school trousers. You know, the sort that actually keeps their legs warm in winter. When we leave home at 8am on a bitterly cold winter day, the wind bites through to my boys legs and makes them miserable and cold. So, with their consent and regardless of people’s opinons, I put them in tights, pull their trousers on over the top and they’re cosy and warm all day.

Tights sit closer to the skin, therefore creating an extra layer of warmth for our little ones, be they girls, boys, or dinosaurs. For small children who like to sparkle, like my youngest son, tights are a funky, frivolous and fantastic way to brighten up your legs, and they look great under shorts in the winter. In fact, two Christmases ago he got some red shorts and red and white stripy tights to wear under them. He looks like an elf, which is exactly how he wants to look, and he wears them a lot. I also took a trip to Germany last winter and came back with armfuls of tights for him; navy with purple stars, bright blue with orange stripes, red with blue spots….the list goes on.



Stigma

Tights are easier for a lively six-year-old to move around in, too. He can climb trees much more effectively, we’ve found, and when he crawls on the floor (he likes to be a cat), the material is soft on his knees. Tights are practical, and a logical choice when it’s cold, so why is there such a stigma attached when boys wear them?

Well, for very young boys (up to around three years of age) there are some great websites out there that are doing a sterling job in promoting the fact that tights for boys is A-OK. They sell tights with trucks on, tractors, planes, boats, and so on. The designs are bright and appealing, not only to boys but also to girls who might not favour sparkly or floral designs. But age three seems to be about where it ends. Why?

Sportsmen often wear tights under their shorts or training pants in winter. Footballers, rock climbers, hikers, long distance runners all set vanity and social constraints aside in favour of being warm and sensible and of course, male ballerinas practically live in tights and not much else. Why can’t boys be encouraged to wear tights, too?



Are tights only for girls?


Tights are not gendered. Indeed, no clothing is gendered if you ask me, but even if we’re following what society sees as the norm, tights really aren’t, or shouldn’t be, something that is inherently male or female. They’re like trousers, but with feet. They come in a variety of colours, sizes, and styles, just like trousers do. They have holes for putting your legs in, and a waistband for pulling them up. Did I miss the memo that says that’s only for girls?

What could be cuter than a little boy in thick corduroy shorts and some woolly tights? Team it with a chunky sweater and some sturdy boots and they’re all set for winter. Pay no attention to what society says; just concentrate on making sure your child is comfortable, warm, and happy.

Boys (and men): wear your tights with pride!


Be confident in your choices, too. When I say my boys wear tights, people look at me like I’m slightly crazy. Okay, that might be the case anyway, but not because they wear tights. My eldest son wears them for purely practical reasons; the aforementioned need to keep himself warm, while my youngest wears them for aesthetics as well as practicality. I have told them both that the choice is theirs and no one else’s, and it doesn’t matter one iota what anyone else thinks. My confidence instils confidence in them in return. No child - or adult for that matter- should be ridiculed for their clothing or lifestyle choices. So boys (and men!) stand tall, keep warm, and rock those tights with pride!

11 comments:

  1. great article, when I was young, my Mother had me wear tights in the winter.
    I can remember navy blue ones, I would wear those during our marching band parades and always felt a sense of warmth and comfort. That was the early 60's and 70's. Now I wear tights or hose all the time with a supportive wife, usually under trousers, but on occasion while camping or hiking. I am from the USA and there is the stigma of someone being gay or weird if seen with tights on. Thanks
    Mike

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  2. Great article! Thanks for posting it. Tights are for everyone!

    Steve
    www.glieberman.com

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  3. I am a 68 year male, 5'7" tall and weight 150 lbs. I have no gut so I look slim. I was heavier so there are a few love Handles but nothing is intrusive to see. I feel that we as guys have the same right to what we like to wear just as our ladies and my wife also. Due to a medical problem, started back in 2006, I have a nerve problem that had affected my left groin area and as such I could not wear any underwear that would rub against my testicles. The least harmful for me was going commando and I am very content of being and going commando ever since. Eventually I had an operation and the damaged side was removed. To help me having comfort I wore kilts during the summer months whenever I had the chance, I also bought some skirts and my wife helped me picking out several of them. I went by my self to the thrift shop and bought several short skirts and it has helped me with reducing the pain. The best way for me to explain what I felt for ten years as if someone hit me with a baseball bat in the groin and it might look funny on American funny home videos it is not a laughing matter the pain is devastating. Our own son objected to me wearing a kilt in front of his two year old daughter, I was deeply hurt and think of that many times knowing that we as guys want to wear what we like is ridiculous in the eyes of many so called adults. I still wear my skirts and tights, nylons etc because I can and I am allowed to do so. I sympathize strongly with the LGBTQ community here in our city and no one made nasty comments about what I wear.
    I have been wearing nylons since mid 80sh. I have always been interested in tights, nylons and spandex. The feeling is great, non restrictive and so much more comfortable. So guys, boys go ahead and wear tights it is A OK.

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  4. I also wore as a young boy, My parents are from Eastern Europe and its the norm for boys to wear tights in the winter. I still wear them today for warmth and support. Good article

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  5. Very good article and looking at things the way they should be. There are still too many people that have a double standard about certain clothing items.

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  6. A very good article and speaks of things the way they should be for everyone. There are still way too many that have a double standard when it come to certain articles of clothing.

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  7. I wonder if she has tried contacting Slugs & Snails?
    http://www.slugsandsnails.ie/
    If they thought there was a demand, they might produce larger sizes, even in limited runs, as they do do some designs in adult sizes it probably wouldn't be too difficult. Great article!

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  8. How refreshing is this!!! This is great article and a great story. Thank you for sharing!

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  9. I'm a 59 year old male and married. I have had varicose veins for several years. I also worked in the financial services industry that required a lot of travel and sitting for extended periods. As a now former runner, I blew out my knees. About four plus years ago I had both knees replaced in surgeries 9 months apart. Since the 2nd surgery I had excessive swelling as well as leg ulcers. My doctor says I have edema and chronic venous insufficiency, basically vein disease. I have to wear full leg compression hosiery. That means thigh high or stay up stickings or waist high panty hose or tights. The gradient compression being 15-20mhg. Most of the time I wear hose under trousers or jeans. I also wear CEP compression sleeves when cycling or working out. They along with the compression nylons help tremendous against leg aches, fatigue and heaviness. They also reduce swelling. I'd rather wear compression pantthose than be dependent on drugs or face invasive surgery. I wish our culture and society did not have a stigma about men wearing full leg hosiery or legwear. Even without a medical condition, I like the comfort and warmth especially on cooler weather. Men and boys wore tights for centuries before women and girls did. I love the article, and commend this mom for her advocacy of boys wearing tights. They can go well with most traditional male garments and still be masculine. Thanks for the blog.

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  10. I'm a guy in my thirties and a few years ago I started wearing long johns under my work trousers.
    I work nights and walking round at 3am in December isn't pleasant.
    I found the long johns slightly uncomfortable as they kept riding up my calves
    I tried footless tights for a while, but started to buy normal tights as they were more common and readily available.
    Tights are comfy, warm and are well made these days, so you can find a perfect fit without constantly pulling them up all day/night.
    If I saw a guy in the street wearing tights under his shorts, I wouldn't bat an eyelid.
    It's about time people just wear what they want. It's only fabric at the end of the day.

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