Saturday, February 24, 2018

Are Yoga Pants Bad For Women?



NYTimes |  It’s a new year and I’ve got a new gym membership. I went the other morning. It was 8 degrees outside. And every woman in there was wearing skintight, Saran-wrap-thin yoga pants. Many were dressed in the latest fashion — leggings with patterns of translucent mesh cut out of them, like sporty doilies. “Finally,” these women must have thought, “pants that properly ventilate my outer calves without letting a single molecule of air reach anywhere else below my belly button.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have yoga pants — three pairs. But for some reason none of them cover my ankles, and as I said, it was 8 degrees outside. So I wore sweatpants.

I got on the elliptical. A few women gave me funny looks. Maybe they felt sorry for me, or maybe they were concerned that my loose pants were going to get tangled in the machine’s gears. Men didn’t look at me at all.

At this moment of cultural crisis, when the injustices and indignities of female life have suddenly become news, an important question hit me: Whatever happened to sweatpants?

Remember sweatpants? Women used to wear them, not so long ago. You probably still have a pair, in velour or terry cloth, with the name of a college or sports team emblazoned down the leg.

No one looks good in sweatpants. But that’s not the point. They’re basically just towels with waistbands. They exist for two activities: lounging and exercising — two activities that you used to be able to do without looking like a model in a P90X infomercial.

It’s not good manners for women to tell other women how to dress; that’s the job of male fashion photographers. Women who criticize other women for dressing hot are seen as criticizing women themselves — a sad conflation if you think about it, rooted in the idea that who we are is how we look. It’s impossible to have once been a teenage girl and not, at some very deep level, feel that.

But yoga pants make it worse. Seriously, you can’t go into a room of 15 fellow women contorting themselves into ridiculous positions at 7 in the morning without first donning skintight pants? What is it about yoga in particular that seems to require this? Are practitioners really worried that a normal-width pant leg is going to throttle them mid-lotus pose?

We aren’t wearing these workout clothes because they’re cooler or more comfortable. (You think the selling point of Lululemon’s Reveal Tight Precision pants is really the way their moth-eaten design provides a “much-needed dose of airflow”?) We’re wearing them because they’re sexy.