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The Soapbox: Women Wear Yoga Pants Because They Are Comfortable, Not Because They Apparently Give You A Boner

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Poor Nathan Graziano. He has an obsession and is surrounded by temptation all the time. He can’t stop thinking about women in yoga pants, especially now that us ladies are wearing them in places outside of yoga class. “Yoga pants have brought out my worst chauvinistic characteristics — the characteristics I’d like deny exist inside me,” he writes on The Good Men Project. “But when it comes to yoga pants, I can’t.”

Huh. I’ve never thought about it before, but I guess I get it. Yoga pants are tight. They hug hips, thighs, and butts. If they’re too small, they may even give you serious camel toe. (I will happily size up to avoid showing off my labia.) But, as the female friends Graziano talked to explained, yoga pants are also ridiculously comfortable. It’s why we have started to wear them outside of yoga class or the gym. I wear yoga pants basically all weekend, to run errands, to walk my dog, around the house, and sometimes to go to brunch. Yoga pants! They’re the best! Apparently some guys find them drool worthy — I’ve yet to be hollered at while wearing mine, but maybe that’s because I have no makeup on, my hair is unwashed and I’m in a rush to get home to eat my footlong Subway sandwich. The best thing about yoga pants is they stretch while I eat all the food!

But Graziano isn’t buying this whole “yoga pants are so comfy” excuse. They’re so tight, how could they be?! Therefore, us ladies must be wearing them because we want to turn guys like him on.

But women are also complicit here. Again, I’m not asserting that the egregious rape-mentality of dangerous men — the ones who believe if a woman dresses provocatively, she is “asking for it” — has any validity. It unequivocally does not. However, I have a hard time believing that — outside of the gym or the yoga classes — women wear yoga pants solely for comfort.

Newsflash Nathan Graziano: Not everything women do is done with men in mind. Just because you find someone sexy, doesn’t mean she’s being sexy for you. Just because someone is wearing something you find sexy, doesn’t mean she is wearing that something for you. Your argument that women must be wearing yoga pants in part to appeal to man’s reptilian brains is based on one thing: “Sweats are comfortable too.” So a woman who chooses yoga pants over sweats is choosing the option that happens to be more appealing to men, so that must be her M.O. But maybe they’re more appealing to her because they fit better. Yoga pants are certainly more flattering, but women like to look good for themselves too, you know. Yoga pants are also a little more “put together” and less sloppy looking than sweats. I personally prefer yoga pants over sweats because they don’t get baggy at the knee after I’ve worn them for three days straight. I hate it when sweats get stretched out and baggy in the knee. Yoga pants are made not to do that.

Seriously though, it’s never really occurred to me that men would consider yoga pants particularly sexy, but I must admit I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what clothing choices men would approve of. Ever since I had a boyfriend who thought I wore too many prints and that my clothes weren’t tight enough, I basically stopped caring what men think about fashion because I don’t necessarily think we’re ever going to agree. I mean, if I’m going out on a date, I may dress in a way I think he’ll “get” (i.e. no, like, harem pants). And yeah, if I’m going to see a guy I like, I’ll dress and do my makeup in a way that makes me feel good because then I project confidence that I think any man in their right mind would find sexy. Otherwise, I wake up and get dressed in a way that pleases me every day.

I also dress for other women because I admire the style of so many regular women I know or see on the street and, to a certain degree, I feel good knowing another woman on the train, or a coworker, or a friend, might be looking at my outfit and thinking it’s fierce too. Today I happen to be wearing a really tight dress. (Nathan Graziano would probably like it and assume I’m wearing it to turn him on.) Actually, I’m wearing it for three people and three people only: myself (as I always do), my gay friend Greg (who always “gets” my outfits), and Solange Knowles, who the two of us are going to see perform tonight. Maybe she’ll think I look cute and want to be BFFs who go shopping together.

I’m cracking jokes, but this yoga pants article has got me fired up. The notion the women are “complicit” in men’s lust simply by what we wear is slipped into Graziano’s piece in a way that is seemingly innocuous but is actually very telling about the way men view women’s bodies as something to be lusted after and policed. One comment in particular chapped my hide. Tom Matlack, founder of The Good Men Project (who’ve I’ve criticized before for other toolish beliefs couched in faux sensitivity), is worried about all the girls and their tight yoga pants.

“yeah honestly I have to admit this whole deal is more than a little alarming to me … when most of the girls in my daughter’s high school show up in very revealing skin tight yoga pants it seems to me like something has gone a bit off. … I guess I like that women feel comfortable in their own yoga skin and also that fitness is something that we all generally are more aware of. But I do ask myself repeatedly how it became okay to wear close to nothing to dinner or class or a movie? I am not a prude by any means. But what ever happen to a nice pair of jeans and a white t-shirt?”

So, because some men have managed to sexualize stretchy yoga pants, that means stretchy yoga pants are now inappropriate/slutty/cause for “alarm.” Because the standards for what it’s okay for women to wear should be dictated by men’s libidos. Nearly every woman I have talked to about this — in the office, on Facebook, on Twitter — has echoed the sentiments of the women commenting on the GMP piece: we wear yoga pants because they are comfortable. Period. The suggestion that we A) wear them because we want sexual attention from men and B) that therefore they shouldn’t be worn in scenarios in which that attention would be “inappropriate” takes all the responsibility for controlling male lust off men and places it on women. And that is some bullshit.

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