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Why Is Jinger Duggar Getting Backlash for Wearing Pants?

Elise Solé
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The Duggar family, of 19 Kids and Counting fame, is known for its conservative lifestyle. However, one member has sparked outcry for straying from the family dress code.

Twenty-three-year-old Jinger Duggar, the sixth-eldest child, was recently photographed in Waco, Texas, with sisters Jessa Seewald, 24, and Jana Duggar, 27. While the latter two were dressed in modest skirts, Jinger stood out in a pair of army-green pants and a red jacket.

Why are pants a problem? Because the Duggar family abides by a strict set of values and parents Jim Bob and Michelle have raised their daughters to dress conservatively per traditional gender roles. That means no pants — even blue jeans — and skirts and dresses must cover the entire thigh to avoid tempting men’s sexual desires. Anna Duggar, who married scandal-plagued eldest son Josh, even hits the gym wearing a skirt over her loose-fitting workout pants. As a volunteer firefighter, daughter Jill Duggar Dillard tailored her uniform pants into a skirt.

Reaction to the photo of the siblings was mixed, with some expressing shock at Jinger’s outfit, while others cheered her independence.

What’s more, Jessa, who in the photo wore a knee-length black skirt and held her newborn son, Henry Wilberforce, was also criticized for her casual attire. On a website called Free Jinger, one person wrote, “I used to think Jessa dressed the best of all of them but ever since she started having babies there are more and more pictures of her dressing more like Jill does. And I know after you have kids you want to wear more comfortable clothes (I have two littles so trust me I know) but her style changed dramatically.”

While Jinger has dressed modestly for most of her life, the current star of Jill & Jessa: Counting On (which follows the family in the wake of Josh’s sexual molestation controversy and the subsequent cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting) has been criticized for breaking style rules in the past. In March Jinger posed for a fan photo with husband Jeremy Vuolo wearing a blue button-down shirt with blue shorts and sneakers.

Why the fascination with Jinger’s style choices? “This is a woman who has been raised in the public eye under a very specific set of rules, and whether she’s wearing pants to rebel against her lifestyle, to exercise her newfound autonomy, or simply for comfort, people are understandably curious,” Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless, tells Yahoo Style. “That’s reality television — we like to see people’s pathology, and some derive pleasure from other people’s challenges because it makes them feel better about their lives in comparison.”

He adds, “And of course, people who live publicly are held more accountable for their decisions.”

Other rules in the Duggar household include: Kids must copy their parents on their text messages, dancing is not allowed, and teenage dates must be chaperoned. Those who do get permission to date must hug their partners side to side to avoid their chests touching. Bathing suits are also controversial — the family avoids the beach “because it’s just too hard for the guys to try to keep their eyes averted in those situations,” writes Michelle on her blog. And if they visit a private lake, the women wear knee-length swim dresses by WholesomeWear.

Michelle adds, “Growing up I would wear a bathing suit or shorts and not realize that it was revealing. When I got older I really felt convicted about my responsibility for how I was causing others to be defrauded. And I began to cover up because I felt responsible for my part in that.”

One person who doesn’t seem bothered by Jinger’s pants is Vuolo. According to the Hollywood Gossip, at a sermon in Texas, he said, “It is your liberty as to whether you dress modestly with a modest pair of pants, or with a skirt, or with a T-shirt, or with a blouse.” However, he added this disclaimer: “It is not your liberty, women, to wear sensual, seductive clothing that is designed to draw the attention of your brothers.”

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