The Tyranny of Yoga Pants

Last week Honor Jones of the New York Times wrote an excellent article on the yoga pants tsunami. It’s good to know that I am not the only person mystified by the number of women who have decided that tourniquet tight legwear is a wardrobe must. And not just slim women; women of all shapes and sizes pry on their yoga pants and sprayed-on jeans each day and head out into the world, defiant as new parolees.

I don’t care if you have a rockin’ body, I don’t care if you don’t. I’m just tired of seeing so much of you. I never signed up for a free subscription to your ass.

“Yoga pants move with your body,” a woman explained to me, beaming at her thighs, which were shrink-wrapped in a dark gray material splashed with giant yellow daisies. Indeed your body cannot shake these pants; there is no escape.

Every time I see a girl in tight jeans—which is every day, many times a day—I cringe a little, imagining the difficulty involved in sitting, bending and walking. A fashion that limits movement, impinges on circulation and inhibits healthy breathing is not a product that favors liberation and empowerment.

Remember Grunge? Well I do, even though it lasted just half a minute back in the early 90s. Grunge fashion—for both men and women—was characterized by durable and cheap clothing often worn “in a loose, androgynous manner to de-emphasize the silhouette.” Decades later, men are still wearing comfortable clothes. Women, sadly, are not. I guess Doc Martens, loose jeans and flannel shirts did not contribute to the objectification of the female form. If a women’s body is de-emphasized, who will want it? Who will care? What is it worth?

What I recall most from the Grunge period was the way women carried themselves. The sureness of their movements, the nascent confidence. Women were finally realizing that they owned themselves, or could.

There are a handful of Olympic sports that benefit from tight uniforms. When winning is measured by a thousandth of a second, a second skin is the way to go. The rest of us have options, especially those who don’t know they do, who believe that yoga pants and tight jeans are tickets to personal freedom.

Comfortable, gender-neutral clothes are not easy to find, but they could be, and if you want to be your own gal, you might want to give them a try. Things are changing for women now. Here’s to freeing our bodies as well as our voices.

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Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Napa, California. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

9 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Yoga Pants

  1. You can’t hardly find sweats for women anymore. You have to get them in the men’s department if actually want them to not be low-rise.

    Enjoyed this!

  2. Loved this and agree 100%. I am built for comfort and yoga pants or tight, skinny jeans are not. They also don’t have pockets. Terribly lacking!

  3. And you wonder why I want you to be our next President…… this literally made me L O L! At my gym it’s bad enough that the attire is FAR too revealing and I appear to be in constant devotion my eyes fixed heavenwards as to avoid the intimacy of seeing every curve and bulge at the gym (#nomysteryleft…). It’s the daily attire under the guise of comfort that confounds me. At the Theatre recently I saw a couple in yoga gear (but not yoga fit, mind you) and wanted to ask them “did you forget you had tickets?, or did you forget going to the Theatre is a public event?” Thank you for this article about appropriate attire and what has become the new norm. Crickey!

  4. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who cringes when I see women wearing yoga pants in public, or any pants tight enough to leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. I’m a firm believer that clothes should be comfortable and non-restricting (which is also why I never wear high heels), and although I suppose yoga pants are comfortable, they do look awfully restrictive. And weird.
    They are the polar opposite of the young men’s “sagging” trend, which also make me cringe. Why wear pants that don’t cover at least a little bit of your butt? And why wear pants that you can’t walk properly in, much less run in?
    Clothes shouldn’t restrict us, male or female, in my opinion.

    1. I heart you Jean Ryan! Tight clothes that reveal far too much on men or women makes me uncomfortable and the baggy jean thing (the origins of which come from prison advertising that the pants worn off the butt is akin to Come Hither — as if). Yeesh. This ardent fan of yours dresses more like Obi Wan Kenobi or an Eileen Fischer ad depending on the flowy scarf.

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