Leggings (and the females that may or may not wear them) are not exclusive to direct sales, they are not exclusive to mothers, they are not exclusive really to an age, or an economic status. People’s opinions of them are though, exclusive to all those things and more. My leggings lay rolled up in a hanging cubby rack in my closet. I first wore leggings when I was pregnant with my second child. Seemed okay then, my pants did not fit anymore, and my maternity pants were too big. Comfort trumped all. Now, not pregnant, I wear them for many occasions, coincidentally because most of my pants still do not fit. I have a few pairs rolled up, the ones with the bicycles on them especially, that I wear mostly with an expensive tunic or a dress I have purchased with the intent for dressing nice when out. Another pair with a wild red and yellow design on them I wear with a ripped-up band t-shirt. So versatile. I have a $3 pair, I have a $25 pair, I have many pairs that I earned for free, in a group or event, where I helped a friend. They lay there sometimes untouched for days, sometimes they are all I wear for pants for a week.
Are they pants though? This question can be a hot topic with some extraordinarily strong opinions about wearing leggings at all or even the dated opinion of any pants on women at all. On social media forums you can see there is apparently an age restriction on who can wear leggings and a weight limit even though they are available in many sizes. If you own an abundance of brands and styles then you know price can play a factor in quality, but the cheap ones do simply fine in a pinch. If too thin and your underwear can be seen through them then these forums have labeled you as provocative, the cheap ones are often see-through though, what shame those who want to experience leggings and all of their comfort are stuck to the cheaper rack. The idea of clothes for women is a predatory game, with all their sizes and discrepancies. Medium in one brand is an extra-large in another. “One size” does not fit all. Buying the ones from direct sales though hold labels too, even if you pay the higher price for them, from one specific company who took a few wrong turns though, now you’re just supporting a money hungry company, so those forums say. Back to the cheap rack we go!
Women, pants, and business in general have their own history. From wearing pants for outdoor work to bloomers in the early 1900s. When wearing something of a man was once a crime slowly became a fashion staple, an icon of independence, and a piece of equality for women during the 20th century. During this time direct sales opportunities opened for women as well, from home cleaning products to makeup, women started to work for themselves outside of a farm, a corporation, or being a homemaker. The female sex remains divided on the issues of gender equality, working from home, and even still the clothes you put yourself in. We are at war with ourselves; among our own sex and with our own mirror.
Direct sales dates back a long time. Your door to door salesman and your mother’s Avon lady were a common occurrence in the mid-1900s. The implication the internet and social media (the virtual predator) has had on direct sales is immense since the early 2000s, but then so are so readily available is people’s opinions. Woman who take a leap into direct sales today are met with a variety of opinions; congratulations, detest, skepticism, and lots of virtual eye rolls. I sold candles once. Soy wax with jewelry hidden inside. I hustled and earned money while staying social while home with a one-year old baby. My mental health was crumbling, and I needed something to focus on, of course I hesitated at an opportunity that cost $1 to join—but it was something besides what I was labeled as; “just a stay at home mom”. Women are pulled away from the workforce- if they ever make it there at all- to have children. Being the bearers of the future is an underappreciated role, among others. Through candles I met other businesses, other women, and so new friends. My legging gal needed a virtual party host and since I had never tried these famous leggings (and at this time they were praised for their comfort) I gave it a go! I earned a few free pairs and I was hooked. Since then the company itself has followed unprofessional avenues, burned bridges, and are generally not promoted like they once were. But the backlash had a ripple effect and now there is a bad taste in people’s mouths that goes beyond leggings.
Predatory is a common term tossed around now for women in direct sales. Predatory is given to many women who hit people’s messenger asking for support in their business. Predatory for seeking out people to join them in the game. A predator does what it needs to survive in the animal and insect world. Are people any different? Or is promoting anything against the big box stores predatory? Start up a brick and mortar store and you will get your friends to support it. Tell them you run a business from home from a direct sales company and they may never talk to you again. Predators is a title given to the worst of sick criminals. Predators are also the top killers in the animal world. Females are coined predators too, sometimes just for existing, sometimes for demanding equality.
The female lion does much of the hunting for their pride. They are perhaps better at it than their male counterpart. Some female octopi prey upon their mates (humans must be relieved that isn’t a dominate trait in most species). The tigress become mothers at a young age, lose about half of their children to lack of food or other predators, and yet the tigress is one of the top predators and a known fierce protector of their young. For women, we are predatory if you ask too much or take up too much space or choose dress in a certain way. In direct sales you are a predator for simply being too bothersome or for seeking other women in similar situations. Unfortunately wearing leggings, from this questionable company especially, now leads to the eyebrow raise of “what side of the fence are you on?” Well, then what is more predatory than the vicious opinions of your own sex! But recruiters and car salesmen (in trousers nonetheless and not exclusive to males) are okay to prey? Women simply can whip their predator tongue, with or without the pants and with or without a side gig.
On the opposite end of that, meeting fellow direct saleswomen (and men too) you can form a force of opportunity for growth, love, and respect. Friendships in the virtual world lack the physical commitment of placement of your body. Which is great for introverts like me, busy moms, and those living too far from each other. I can be friends with you from my couch, I can run my business from my dinning room table, and I can support you and you can support me without ever even meeting. I moved on from candles to children’s books and educational board games. I was a “predator” of literacy and education, a “predator” of mother’s who feel they need to buy books and games out of guilt, and yet I was just trying to earn a paycheck and a no pressure attitude is what I strive for. Just like the man in the trouser. Unfortunately, motherhood in general leaves that guilt, not me the saleswoman. I as a writer am passionate about books, I homeschool so I’m passionate about educational resources for fun learning- but I too felt guilty for even sharing. I have found my place in writing and art again now and do not “prey” on others as my day job anymore- but the notion of it all had a lasting effect and there are some who still don’t speak to me just because I used to promote children’s books.
I was just trying to fulfill my early 1900s role of mother while trying to pour my postpartum body in my leggings hoping my underwear doesn’t show through even though the only place I am going today is the couch to write or do my homework for college courses while my boys play. And the implied guilt of the whole package comes not from the tribe of woman and friends I have found in direct sales but from some of those that aren’t in direct sales but have been influenced by media—that’s predatory. We are predatory on our own sex. Putting ourselves back, practically shoving ourselves backwards in time, over the opinion of leggings, women working, and women sharing. You cannot be too old for clothes, too big, too small, too rich, too poor, too naïve to sales, nor too uneducated about leggings for them to work for you just the way the work for me. If you have them then you put them on one leg at a time just like me and they are comfort. Sometimes it was my fellow book ladies are my comfort too. Sometimes it was the paycheck after working hard to pay an emergency vet bill that was comfort.
-And sometimes turning off social media after helping to build up another woman instead of tearing one down is best comfort of all, and I will do so in my leggings.
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