I love God. I love my husband. And I still wear yoga pants in public.

Photo credit:  Lynn Friedman

Photo credit: Lynn Friedman

Every so often, I find myself frustrated because I keep hearing little comments, seeing little blurbs, or catching glimpses of headlines and don’t know what everyone’s talking about.  I’ve seen enough to know that whatever it is that’s making its furious circuit around social media is a “thing”, but I don’t know enough to actually engage in a conversation about it.  I don’t like feeling ignorant, so I’ll make the time to actually sit down and educate myself on the topic du jour. Sometimes it’s having to do with politics, or sports, or pop culture.  Sometimes it’s a particularly juicy piece of celebrity gossip, or a shocking bit of national news.  Last week it was…..

Yoga pants.

Specifically, whether or not women have some sort of moral duty not to wear them in public, lest men get tempted and think bad thoughts.

First, a disclaimer:  I’m not unbiased.  I teach yoga, and often go to yoga classes as a student, so stretchy pants are my uniform.  If I need to get groceries or gas or stop at the drugstore on the way home, so be it.  I don’t think twice about what I’m wearing.  My clothes are clean and neat and fit well.  Besides, yoga pants are pretty much the most comfortable thing on the planet, so I’m not about to get all stretched out and blissed out and zen….. only to change into something more restricting so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of the guy working at the 7-11.

Second, if someone chooses for themselves not to wear yoga pants/leggings (such as the woman who wrote the blog post that started this most recent stretchy pants hoopla) I support that like crazy.  Your body = your choice what you do or do not clothe it in.

What I can’t support is this idea that they should be avoided in deference to the possibility of a man thinking “lustful thoughts.”  That kind of thinking contributes to rape culture, it demeans both the wearer and the onlooker, and it’s incredibly insulting to men.  Call me naive, but I’d like to believe that the men in my life are capable of thinking, and responding, and reacting, with something other than their sex organs.

I hear people saying that they dress a certain way out of respect for their husbands and the other men around them, but I’m just not so sure how respectful it is to assume that your state of dress is automatically going to be their undoing.

My husband takes the light rail to work, every day.  He sees hundreds of people, from all walks of life.  He sees old people and young people.  Men and women.  He sees attractive women.   He sees attractive women in all kinds of clothes.  He sees attractive women in all kinds of clothes, and sometimes he notices them.    Sometimes he even thinks, “Well that there is an attractive woman.”


Here’s the thing.  There is a very big difference between thinking, “Wow, she’s really pretty” and “Wow, I really want to force myself on her” (or any number of vulgar ways that may be expressed).  The former is normal and okay, and not at all a problem in a healthy marriage.   He notices pretty girls.  I notice attractive men. It’s okay!  And the latter?  The latter is something different entirely, and the onus is 100% on the man to own, and be responsible for, and deal with those thoughts.  Those are his thoughts.  His responsibility.  His issue.  I don’t care what you’re wearing.  And, let’s be honest, men who are going around thinking about sex with strangers likely aren’t going to care what you’re wearing either.

If you feel it’s more modest not to wear yoga pants – and I’ve gotta say it… I think yoga pants are some of the least of the offenders out there in the “non-modest” category.  But I digress – If you feel it’s more modest not to wear them, by all means don’t wear them!  The beautiful thing about personal choice is that we can all dress according to our own levels of comfort, both physical comfort and comfort as it pertains to things like modesty and personal appropriateness. But it’s unfair (to both men and women alike) to make it about what kind of bad thoughts these theoretical men may or may not have when they see you wearing them.

Because it stands to be repeated:  HIS thoughts.  HIS responsibility.  And my choice in leg wear is MY choice. MY responsibility.

So I’m going to keep wearing my yoga pants.  And he’s going to keep riding the train.  And I’m going to rest assured knowing that he’s not mentally undressing every pretty young thing in spandex riding next to him.   But if he did?  If he really was looking at some girl thinking “lustful thoughts”?  Those thoughts, his thoughts, would be the issue.

And it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference what kind of pants the girl was wearing.

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9 Responses to I love God. I love my husband. And I still wear yoga pants in public.

  1. Pam in Colorado

    Thank you Jennifer, for speaking the most important points of all… his thoughts, his responsibility, just as my thoughts are mine – not someone else’s.

  2. erica

    Read the book “Every Man’s Battle” and see if your opinion is the same. I am a fitness instructor also so I will also continue to wear yoga pants, as it’s part of my uniform. However, your philosophy on the male brain is rather naive. And naiveté might be bliss… but if you want to know, read the book.

    • Darcy

      “The male brain”, especially as portrayed in Every Man’s Battle, is a myth. It perpetuates the myth that men’s brains work differently than women’s, that they are somehow more “visual”, and that this is “natural”. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a woman. I am very visual, in the same way men only are supposed to be according to such books. This has nothing to do with my gender and a man’s brain doesn’t work differently from mine just because he is male. Jennifer is not naive, She’s just not perpetuating the religious complementarian teachings that are promoted among some circles. I believe that book, and others that promote the man as sex beast myths are very degrading to men. My own husband was really offended by it and others like it.

      This is a really good article, written by a man who very much disagrees with such teachings. There are many more men like him out there, thank goodness: http://micahjmurray.com/2013/06/27/sex-robot/

      And another, also by Micah (this is satire, btw): http://micahjmurray.com/2014/04/30/what-i-wish-women-knew-about-men/

  3. cyndel

    Thank you Jen for saying what I have been trying to find words for!
    I’ve had a difficult time putting my thoughts into words on this issue. 🙂

  4. Lisa from Iroquois

    I was not going to respond to this, but your comment about rape culture made me pause. So this is me, saying nice job, nice capture of the way it should be. This is me standing on the side of ordinary folk and decency and common sense. Thank you for writing this.

  5. Olivia

    While I would agree that it would be nice to believe that that is the case of one’s own thoughts being one’s own responsibility, I find I have to completely agree with Erica. Men will mentally undress women in tighter clothing, and may not even mean anything derogatory about it or have demeaning or “rape” centered thoughts. “Every Mans Battle” is a great book into the mind of a man. It’s written by a man and accurately describes what goes through their minds when looking at women.

  6. Jen, Just saw this yoga pants thing today on FB. What a crock. I wear yoga pants also and its entirely a comfort thing for me. Keep on keepin on Jen, Im thoroughly enjoying your blogs.

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