Weird stories can occur suddenly. They sometimes sneak up uninvited and freak you out. Allow me to share just that sort of story.
In the quiet New Mexico town where I grew up, there was a tiny cafe grill across the street from the junior high. It was called “The Little Store” and served burgers and fries to school kids and oil field workers. It also had a hefty candy counter which allowed us to sneak boston baked beans and lemonheads during class in the afternoons.
At least once a week, word would spread that there was going to be a fight in the alley behind The Little Store. Sometimes no one show up and sometimes the cops would. The girl fights were always the most exciting with all the hair pulling and scratching and what not. I was terrified through junior high that something I might say would cause someone to throw down the challenge to meet them behind The Little Store.
I’m 47 years old and haven’t lived in New Mexico for almost 30 years but last week it finally happened. The Internet challenged me to a fight. My words were about something as benign as leggings. A lighthearted post about a fashion trend. I sent these words out to a teeny tiny group of friends and family that sometimes read The Story Place blog. I was horrified when last Friday that naively safe bubble ripped open and the world of commenters said “HEY LADY! NOBODY TELLS ME WHAT TO WEAR! MEET ME BEHIND THE LITTLE STORE!”
To suggest modesty is obviously fightin’ words.
The fight started in the halls of the comment section until I got overwhelmed and simply stopped approving all of them, pro and con leggings alike. But that just took the fight out into the alley off school grounds. Two incredibly polarized sides emerged behind the scenes of my little wordpress site.
People. I usually have 0-3 comments per post. This viral wave of comments and shares that rose like a tsunami of public opinion has left me wide-eyed and quite frankly puzzled. It is comical that this has happened over my words. My personality and nature is to run from controversy which makes me incredibly uncomfortable and this event all the more curious.
Thank goodness the internet’s attention has the shortest of all spans.
I’m getting older and learning to be bolder and wiser about my words. Trying to be brave and not hold back when something bubbles up and taps at my heart to share. I’m trying to build guardrails for three children in a generation where society says there are no rules. Parenting is hard. Aging is dicey. Life is messy.
I posted those leggings thoughts to simply get the discussions I’ve had with so many over the past month out in the air. An attempt at saying with a grin, “Is it just me, or have we gone too far?…” If I had known so many visitors would have dropped by, I would have tidied up a bit! I wish I had spent more time editing. Yes, America, I know it is “you’re” not “your”. I would have been a tad bit more specific that I was making fun of myself and not anyone else, including southerners, of which I am one.
I’m sticking by my opinion though. Obviously this post landed squarely on an “exposed” nerve. As in any fight, there is usually a deeper issue, a deeper hurt that triggers strong words in response. After reading over 600 comments on this topic I realize this response is soooo not about leggings. It’s about your right to choose, about body image and modesty. And I am hereby choosing not to referee this debate. My intention was never to judge or, God forbid shame, anyone. My intent was simply to suggest that perhaps a line needs to be redrawn.
It is good to remember that our stories collide and intersect in a constant dance of humanity. Your decisions have consequences. That is not an opinion. It is fact.
If you are reading this blog for the first time, welcome. I love to share and collect stories that inspire and encourage. Our stories matter. All sizes, shape and color of emotion. Most important, I have found life to be most rewarding, most precious and meaningful when lived according to the will of our Great Storyteller, our Abba Father. I hope He is honored in this space.
31 thoughts on “Did That Really Just Happen?”
I am new to your blog and simply joined because I “loved” your insight into the legging do’s and don’ts! Know that I support you and your right to share your opinion and not be shamed into keeping silent so that the loud-mouths of the world get to solely express their thoughts and ideas!! Perhaps those that responded so negatively will give pause to ponder their ravaged response and re-think their position of the “line drawn”! Power to you Sister, loved by God!
I’m also new to the blog and learned about via the Leggings article. Well done. Sometimes somebody has to say Something. And you did. I subscribed and am anticipating reading more words of wisdom and creativity. I’m very selective about my use of time but I’m confident reading your articles is a good sense of that precious resource. God bless you and your ministry!
Well welcome Caroline!
This is my first offering from your story place. I read the article on Facebook and was quite Intrigued. I too am a writer as well as having A local (Eugene, Oregon) radio show. My Page on Facebook is called Scatterbrained Control Freak. I would love your input as Well. And as far as negative responses? Been there, done that! Looking forward to the Next story!
Sent from my iPhone
Ahhh, but it was that post that prompted me to “follow” you! Because I agree – on a recent trip back east I was amazed at the numbers of young, very shapely women wearing leggings in the same manner I was wearing my jeans. They looked good, yes they did – I would look – best not to discuss it. For me, as for you, leggings are meant to be worn much like stockings used to be worn. But, as you also say in this post, each to his own. Hey, if you can get away with it, go for it! For those of us who are no longer 30 or under and do not work out on a regular basis, best not to go there. Just my humble opinion, not meant to open the gates of war.
Thank for the post 🙂 I was looking for a way to shoot you an email saying thanks for the smile, and the comment at the end of your legging post how the whole thing blew up! That’s amazing. i thought you’d explained well at the beginning your standpoint of the ever changing fashion whatnot opinions etc. haha. Anyway, i can wear leggings but i certainly don’t enjoy seeing other girls way TMI parts so why would i want to do that to others. Also i don’t like to share. it sounds like everyone that craves attention in any means OR maybe just likes a good ole fight is having a hay day. lalala. I’m sorry but am entertained too that its spread. its kind of fun, isnt it? that your words have taken a jump in popularity even if people just want to know what you write next now? its a compliment even if it looks like people are reacting badly. seems like a push for interaction from them. though… people can be petty too. even if i didn’t agree, i do like a smile and i like to understand others’ opinions and points of view.
I found your blog via a discussion on leggings/body shaming, haha. But I am so thankful! What a beautiful space. I, too, am deeply interested in the stories of our lives, and I am excited to have learned about your blog. I look forward to continuing to follow you! XOXO
Someone on facebook liked your post on leggings so I went to look at it. To be honest I didn’t read the whole thing, no idea how controversial it was. But I did click on and read your whole post on Wal Mart and loved it. Thank you for speaking for the Lord.
I read your post, agreed and have added your blog to my reading list. Good things always come with the negative. I, for one, am thankful for your opinion.
Wow…an explosion took place in cyber space. Just makes life a little more exciting. (doesn’t every need a little more excitement…not…) But it sparked the
‘conversation’….and perhaps there will be that one who might view their choices in a little different light. On that thought I will say…wise words.
I love you Sandy. Thanks for your perfect timing with encouragement!
Ha! I read the legging one first then this one second! Ain’t God cool. I’m a southern gal as well. People are odd to say the least when it comes to blogs and stuff going viral!
I read your entire ‘leggings’ story to my sister, out loud, on the phone…me in Texas (loving your TX comment about how we would roll our eyes) and my sister in DC. We laughed and laughed. Loved your words, took them all in, and found your blog. I, too, am glad for the short attention span of the internet. So glad your love of words and stories popped up on my FB newsfeed today. I have always harbored the desire to tell stories but have always had something holding me back. Love your blog.
Wow! Thank you so much! Its been a surreal week. I look forward to getting to introduce myself to more folks in a saner atmosphere! Welcome!
I am empathetic to your desire to be non-confrontational as I share the same desire. Who knew it would be leggings? Love the “Storyteller – Abba Father” connection. I’m following you because of that – not the legging story. 🙂 keep sharing – looking forward to reading more.
Oh welcome sister! Surreal week indeed. Yikes.
I discovered your blog because the legging story ran on someone’s Fb page. It hit a nerve for me, too. Just this week I had to avert my eyes in embarrassment I felt for a girl in our church and another on a local Christian college campus wearing thin black tights. (Since I could discern every bit of their anatomy, I couldn’t really call them leggings.) I am thankful for the discussions started and for discovering your stories!
I hope this is the Darla Cotter I know! Welcome friend!
You are a great writer! Love how you express things!!
Yes – I shared your article on leggings on my birthday on Saturday – not knowing what a stir it would cause among people who are not even my friends on FB. Well some where my friends – but they aren’t any longer. I share your name, I just turned 48 so almost your age and I was born in a small town in New Mexico. Oh and I share the fact that my Father is a King – and I am a runner. And – I share your views on leggings…they are not pants – and even if you can pull off the look – for all that is good – Don’t…. Keep sharing your stories Kelli
Nice to meet you Kelley! Sounds like we have a lot in common. Welcome!
I saw your blog about leggings (which I thoroughly enjoyed) on Facebook. Then I looked at the rest of your blog – you are a very talented writer!
I read your blog on the legging issue first then read this one. I teach in a middle/high school and leggings have been a huge issue. I love the humor that you put into your writing. I can’t wait to share the article with co-workers.
You go girl! Your little post about “laggins” 😉 was right on! Modesty is so lost even amongst Christian gals, anymore! Cleveage, booty, and legs up to 👀 yikes, are a concern to me as a Christian woman, grandmother, and pastor’s wife. And how dare me if I care enough to confront! I feel so sorry for guys! They are bombarded with an eye full at every turn. The workplace, school, eateries, and even God’s church are all fair game. Keep on keeping on, Kelli!
Sorry if I added to the “storm” on the legging post! I just “couldn’t” not try to reply to a couple comments I saw. Like several others, I’m thankful the legging post generated so much interest, cuz that’s how I found your blog! And, also like another newbie, your comments about our Abba Father are what really drew me in! So, in my opinion, the Lord’s using that unexpectedly controversial post for good! And I think you hit the nail on the head, it’s so obviously not just about leggings. Looking forward to reading your stories!
I thought your legging post was pretty benign. How funny that you got such a strong response. I hope you don’t let that experience stifle your voice or your joy of writing. Your words are a pleasure to read.
I’m with most of the ladies above… someone shared your “leggings” story and I found it amusing (and true) and liked your style and here I am… viral is a good thing… if it gets people thinking and talking and sharing their ideas (hopefully politely) and for those who weren’t particularly polite — sadly anonymity seems to spark outrageous responses for the most benign things. Don’t stop sharing your heart and your humor!!
Well…I too subscribed to your blog bc of the legging post–I was chuckling aloud through the whole thing. I thought ‘wow this chick is funny, has an obvious love for God, and I want to read more.’ So thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing. God bless!!
I shared your legging post on Facebook the week you had posted it, along with my own small comments about leggings being more transparent than women think. It popped up in my feed today as a memory (I suppose, because so many people liked it) and when I went to read it again before I re-shared (I remember it being a good one), I was sad to see it was removed. I can see how the extreme reaction caused you surprise, but I believe people need to be educated in freedom of opinion. Whether I agree or not with your post, you have the right to express your thoughts on a simple blog. Recently, freedom of opinion and speech has been challenged to the core in the US. Please continue to share your thoughts and don’t let cyberspace bullies tell you what you should or should not think. Perhaps, in future, you could remove the commenting entirely to remove yourself from the fight, but leave the post up to remind people that there are other opinions in the world besides their own.
I remember reading this and thought I am going to save this to read to my girls as they get older. I’m back and it’s gone! How can I get a copy! I remembered it being so encouraging in the world we live in!!
It’s back up Tammy!