I never thought I’d have to defend my choice to wear yoga pants. Or to wear expensive yoga pants. Or to wear thong underwear beneath my expensive yoga pants. But the day has arrived. I will and I shall.
With all this hullabaloo about Lululemon recalling a bunch of their yoga pants because they were too sheer, everyone suddenly seems to have an opinion about how women should or shouldn’t cover their asses while doing Downward Dog.
Charlotte Cowles, a regular yogi, weighed in on the Lululemon recall in New York Magazine, attributing the problem to thongs rather than pants:
“The problem with sheer yoga pants isn’t so much that your butt cheeks are visible, but that your thong is. Still, I don’t see why this is a terrible concern, since lots of ladies’ thongs stick out during yoga anyway.”
Then Slate’s Amanda Marcotte, whose point of view I usually tend to agree with, lost me when, in a response to Cowles, she railed against women who wear thongs to exercise:
Cowles talks about ‘your thong’ as if nothing is more suitable for exercising than wearing underwear specifically designed to slide between your butt cheeks and attack you at the slightest provocation. What kind of sexualized hell are these poor women living in that they can’t even give up porn-compliant underwear in order to keep their bodies lean and toned for future thong-wearing situations? I was under the impression that yoga was supposed to be a healthful activity, and yet here women are, contorting their bodies in a strap of fabric made to respond by straining painfully at your most sensitive bits. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing, and not reminiscent of a visit to the proctologist.
As a woman who has been practicing yoga (usually in thongs and mostly in Lululemon yoga pants) for the last 16 years, I feel the need to set Marcotte straight. When practicing yoga — or doing any kind of exercise — I’ve experimented with different kinds of underwear and found that actually, yes, thongs are the most suitable kind of underwear to wear. And no, I am not a woman in my own sexualized hell while wearing thongs. Quite the opposite, I don’t even know I have underwear on.
My choice to wear thongs has nothing to do with preventing panty lines or trying to be sexy either. It has everything to do with crotch sweat and frontal wedgies. Contrary to Marcotte’s belief, well-fitting cotton thongs do not slide or ride up your ass crack. If they do, then they’re not the right size. Whenever I’ve worn full-coverage underwear to work out however, they do ride up in the front and the back, the cotton gets wet with crotch sweat, clings to my vagina and distracts the hell out of me. Whenever I’ve worn no underwear to exercise, my vagina rubs uncomfortably against my yoga pants and feels weird and also distracts the hell out of me. Hence, it’s cotton thongs for me. They don’t ride up, cling too terribly or give me front wedgies. TMI, I know. But I feel it’s relevant information in this instance.
Now, on to why I buy Lululemon yoga pants to wear over my thongs. Yes, they are damn expensive, but they are also the most comfortable brand I’ve worn and they hold up really well when you wash them. They cost more than Marcotte’s monthly phone bill (and mine) but I think of them as an investment. If I go to yoga three days a week, which is about what I average, and I buy two pairs of yoga pants that hold up to constant washing better than any other brand that I’ve owned, my investment was worth it. It’s no different than an avid runner buying a new pair of running shoes every few months. I also own a pricey yoga mat, which keeps my hands and feet from slipping and greatly improves my practice. I’m not rich, I just take yoga seriously, so I budget for serious gear. Don’t hate.
Last but not least, I don’t practice yoga to “stay lean and toned for future thong-wearing situations,” I practice because otherwise I probably would have gone insane many years ago. I enjoy the toning benefits of the practice, sure, but yoga is spiritual for me. It’s for my mind first, body second. I don’t care who is or is not looking/getting boners from my ass/thongs/butt sweat or whatever when I do yoga, I’m focusing on me. Yoga has given me a sense of love and appreciation for my body, it has given me a powerful sense of subjectivity. It’s given me peace of mind and outlet to deal with stress. It’s taught me how to relax. And if my thongs and expensive yoga pants help me do that more comfortably, so be it.