Bare Legged Ladies
By: Kiana Moridi
It’s 80 degrees in my beloved Milano, Italy. The sun is beaming on my vitamin D deprived vampire-like skin. I have survived my first Italian winter and the time to enjoy some well-deserved rays is now. With total giddy, childlike excitement, I swap out of my heavy furs for floral blouses and terribly over worn leggings for my unintentionally neglected denim shorts. As I step out onto the busy streets of Milan, ready to flaunt my fresh spring threads, I realize one significant difference: the blinding realization that I am indeed an American living in a foreign land. I immediately sense the up and down glaring eyes of the young (even a baby wagged its chubby little finger at me in total disgust), old, and everything in between, staring and wondering how a young lady could ever leave her flat in such a provocative manner.
At first, I thought maybe this is was something I was creating within my own mind. Maybe I was just self-conscious living in a different country, viewing myself as a bystander rather than a participant. Or perhaps I was just out in the Milanese wild with my bare legs on an unlucky day. However, after talking (venting, rather) to my Italian boyfriend about this observation, he said something that left me completely dumbfounded. “If a woman shows her legs before it’s 80 degrees outside or before the month of May, she is seen as a slut.” My initial reaction was to burst into laughter or playfully slap his knee at this hilarious gesture. Surely, he had to be playing a practical joke on me. Here I am in the fashion capital of the world, yet a woman simply showing leg automatically deems her provocative and easy. The irony is not lost on me.
Sure, the Milanese are sweating profusely under their countless layers of tweed scarves, wool beanies, trench coats and leggings in 75 degree weather (the daily grotesque stench on the metro was more than enough proof for me), but they wouldn’t dare swap out their winter pieces for spring in fear of going against the grain of a terribly outdated social norm.
Here’s the secret to living a judgment free Italian life; if you’re a woman visiting or moving to Milan, pack any and every pair of tights, legging or panty hose you have ever owned in your lifetime. If you’re concerned about bringing too many pairs, there is no such thing. Pack your mom’s leggings, your grandma’s, that extra pair that’s been lying around your closet for decades. Take them all. You’ll thank me later.