Monday, 10 November 2008

Wearing Openly - Does Anyone Else Really Care?

One subject which seems to be aired frequently on the forums and almost any other legwear-related site, is the matter of men wearing tights openly, with shorts or cut-offs. Almost every male wearer, it seems, has a blind terror of being 'discovered' wearing tights. I really am not sure why this is; the vast majority of the general public (aside from wearers) don't give legwear a second thought, and certainly couldn't care who wears in the slightest. It has been nearly 10 years or so that I have been wearing openly, as a part of my normal day-to-day wear, and in that time I have not had one single person either notice, or if they have, make any comment to me about it one way or the other; they simply don't notice. Correction; one person did notice - my cousin's (then) 7 year-old son, who was playing around with his toy cars on the floor of our living room during a family visit, when he stopped by my feet and looked up, and asked 'Are you wearing tights?' (I was dressed in ComfiLon 577's in Tan, with combat-type cargo shorts and sandals, as I often do in the summer months); 'Yes' I replied, and he just nodded and carried on playing. About an hour later, this time I was sitting on the back doorstep, while the lad and his 9-year old sister were playing in and around my car (which was a Smart ForTwo - which fascinated them), when he stopped and said to me, 'Why are you wearing ladies' tights?'. 'I'm not', I said, 'I'm wearing men's tights'. At this, his (apparently more street-wise) sister chimed in with 'They do make tights for men, you know. D'Uhh!' 'One of my school teachers wears them' she said to me, by way of explanation. 'Well, I didn't know!' protested her little brother, and with that, they forgot all about it and carried on playing. And that is it - not another word, from them, or anybody else.

Another case in point; I recently met up with a former girlfriend, who I went out with almost 30 years ago, and who had got back in touch. We arranged to go for a day out, catch up, get lunch etc., and just chat. I was wearing my usual t-shirt, shorts and this time ComfiLon 599's (which are awesome by the way!) in Tan, and deck shoes (which I prefer for driving). We spent the whole day together, drove a couple of hundred miles, and visited lots of places of interest; it was a lovely sunny summer's day. When we got back to mine at the end of the day, we sat in the living room with cups of tea and coffee, and chatted. It was only then that the subject of what work we now do came up, and I told her about the Legwear4Men web site, and indicated my nylon-clad legs. She sat up, looked hard, and said, 'Oh, I didn't even notice.' And that was that; no further interest, and certainly no questioning looks or anything like that. We have chatted a little more about it since then, and she thinks it's great; no problem!

I think it all comes down to confidence; if you are furtive and look preoccupied, people will be suspicious, whereas if you just carry on as normal, no-one will notice, and if they do, they won't care - they will assume there must be some good reason you are wearing them, and leave it at that.

Now, of course, a great deal of that confidence will come from your own perception of yourself in tights, and this is where tights which are made for men come in; I know that I, for one, could never be confident wearing women's tights, because I would know they are women's clothing, and that bothers me, but if they are men's, then I am confident and there is no problem. Sometimes male wearers say, 'Well, no one else knows if the tights you are wearing are men's or women's,' which may be true, but I know, and that makes all the difference in the world - remember the movie Independence Day - 'plausible deniability'!

Another area in which tights for men are important, is in a man's relationship with his wife/gf/SO, who may be dubious about his wearing of what she perceives as a 'female' garment, but is far less likely to be concerned if he wears a patently male garment. After all, there are male and female versions of jeans, t-shirts, polo shirts, etc, which all at some point made the transition from being a 'male' garment to being available for both genders; why not with tights too (which after all, started off as a male item anyway)?

If you haven't already done so, try it; I am sure you will find that no one gives two hoots! Enjoy!


sheergeek said...

Some great points there, Bozeman. I am one of those men that have yet to conquer those inner demons that are preventing me from openly wearing tights. Not even my family know that I wear tights (as I have explained on my blog, I was caught wearing tights at an early age and was left feeling guilty and ashamed by the experience). Breaking through that barrier is one of my goals/challenges for the future.

I can empathise with men that don't want to draw attention to the fact that they wear tights/pantyhose; after browsing through some of the blog and forum postings that appeared on the internet after the recent media publicity, it became clear that the majority of people that comment on these sites are incredulous at the idea of men wearing tights/pantyhose, with some even being openly hostile. Admittedly, it is no doubt easier for these people to be brave and outspoken whilst hiding behind the anonymity that the internet affords them, however it is undeniable that such negative sentiment exists. Many will argue that these people's attitudes are cowardly, bigoted, shallow and reactionary and I for one would agree with that assessment. For many men, however, the threat of encountering such negativity first hand is too much of a risk. After all, no-one wants to be labelled a weirdo, a freak or a pervert or even end up having to protect themselves from physical attack. Mud sticks and good, respectable reputations can be brought crashing down by such accusations.

Often, it is not the thought of first hand confrontation that prevents men from openly wearing tights, but the thought that attitudes towards them may subtly change; will job promotions pass them by? Will their family view and treat them differently? Will friends (or people that were considered friends) no longer want to maintain an association? Will your partner begin to have doubts about your sexuality and your motivations? All of these scenarios (and others) could lead you to conclude that it is hopeless and that it will always be impossible or unacceptable for a man to wear tights/pantyhose.

Of course, this isn't true. It will, however, take time. We are on the right road and are heading in the right direction: Manufacturers are making tights for men; retailers such as your own website are providing a safe and secure environment to purchase men's hosiery and community sites such as LAUF, E-Mancipate and Geraden's wonderful site all provide reassurance and motivation. All of which attests to the fact that things are moving forwards. It is a slow process and the more men that get out there and show that it can be done, the easier it will become for the rest of us to follow on. I'm looking forward to openly joining in, I'm just not there yet.

dougaa said...

I think there are two different questions here, whether people notice, and if they notice, whether they care. I agree that if you wear sheer tights that are close to your skin color and not excessively shiny, then in ordinary situations people won't notice. People are not that observant, and also don't expect to see a man wearing tights. If you wear colored or opaque tights people will notice to a much greater extent, and realize they are tights. But even then, the experiences on LAUF indicate that people don't care if a stranger chooses to wear legwear that way. I've confidently worn opaque tights under shorts in public, and seen that first hand. Some people stare, and you might even hear a comment like "is that man wearing tights". But I've only encountered entirely understandable reactions like that, nothing negative. People may disapprove, but I think we all see people wearing clothes we'd never wear, and it's just not a big deal when a stranger does that.

The issue I have is wearing tights under shorts around people who are not strangers, people who know me and whose opinion of me matters. For example, I'd like to be able to go to work wearing shorts and opaque tights. Where I work is a liberal environment, and that would likely be allowed. But even if no one said anything directly to me, I fear it would change people's opinions of me for the worse. Even if I wore sheer tights, people would be close enough to me at times to see the fabric of the tights on my legs. For situations where someone's opinion of me matters, I feel I have to wait until wearing tights become a recognized option for men, similar to what happened with earrings for men. The best way I know to do that is to wear noticeable tights as much as you can in situations you are comfortable in, so that people are aware of your tights and get used to seeing it as a style for men.