Dear Level

A Woman’s Case Against Gray Sweatpants

I don’t want my man being ogled in the streets!

Aliya S. King
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readOct 2, 2020

--

Illustration: Olivia Fields

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

When I was in college, my boyfriend would often attempt to veto my outfits before I went out with friends. His main issue was crop tops. He’d yank down my shirt to reach the top of my jeans. (It was the ’90s — Aaliyah’s Tommy Hilfiger ads had us all rocking baggy jeans with peekaboo waistlines.)

It wasn’t that he didn’t like my body. Quite the opposite, actually. (A moment of silence for my long-ago six-pack.) It was that he didn’t want anyone else to like my body. Which meant no one else should see it.

“Why do you always have your belly peeking out?” he’d protest.

“Because it’s my belly, and I’m an adult,” I’d reply.

“Still,” he’d say, “you don’t need to show off.”

I’d usually roll my eyes, go to the party, and ignore his nonsense.

As the years passed and partners changed, plenty of men have tried to police my body and clothes. (Even my dad.) My attire has always been considered hazardous. It was classic respectability politics — I was discouraged from wearing anything…

--

--

Aliya S. King
LEVEL

Aliya S. King is an author, freelance writer and editor.