Sometimes yoga pants make me uncomfortable. Am I bad feminist or just old?

Yoga pants have been going through some tough times. Lululemon’s founder got in trouble for implying his clothes are only for skinny women, schools have created sexist policies focusing on what girls wear, and now Rep. David Moore of Montana, like some kind of American Taliban, wants to make them against the law.


A few years ago, back when I didn’t know what yoga pants were, I got into an argument with my 7 yr old daughter about them. She wanted to wear what she called “soft pants” to school. I explained they went under clothes, that their real name was “leggings.” I’m 46 and that’s what we called them. We wore them with skirts or maybe a super long sweater. My daughter argued that they’re comfortable, and all her friends wear them “just plain.” I didn’t believe her, not because I was thinking about sexualization but to me, it felt like wearing pajamas to class.

Once I started to pay attention, I saw yoga pants everywhere. All the girls in my daughter’s class were wearing them. You know how when you learn a new word, you start to see it constantly? “Yoga pants” stories kept popping up on my Facebook page. News alerts reported schools were policing what girls wear (usually for kids older than my daughter.) Once again, the bad behavior of boys was getting blamed on girls. Why not focus on male behavior, teach them not to harass or rape instead of instructing women how not to get harassed or raped?

Everyone wears yoga pants now. I live in California, so maybe it’s more trendy in the mild weather and casual vibe here, but I’m totally surrounded. I get the sexualized issue when I see women and older girls wear them. I admit, it’s taking some getting used to on my part. I still feel like everyone is in pajamas, not finished getting dressed. That also seems appealing to me: cozy, comfortable, casual. Sometimes, I feel like people are outside in their underwear. I’ve noticed in myself the opposite, though equally biased reaction, from the Lululemon founder. I may silently cheer on a heavier woman but roll my eyes at a skinny one with lots of make up. But here’s what’s obvious to me: Whether my reaction is because of my age or that I’m a bad feminist, whatever complex conditions and training got me to this emotion, my reaction is mine. Women and girls shouldn’t choose what to wear based on how I feel about their outfit. It’s about me, not them. That Rep David Moore thinks he has the right to put women in prison because of how he feels about their clothing shows how backwards the mentality of a male dominated world can be.

10 thoughts on “Sometimes yoga pants make me uncomfortable. Am I bad feminist or just old?

  1. “I live in California, so maybe it’s more trendy in the mild weather and casual vibe here, but I’m totally surrounded.”

    In upstate New York, not the warmest of places, they are nonetheless a relatively common sight. I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing them with respect to both how informal and skintight they are and I don’t understand why anyone would feel comfortable wearing them in public, but que será, será.

    However, I must admit to a degree of annoyance to having been chewed out by a boss who was wearing yoga pants or something similar, slippers, and a stretched-out, worn-out, bedazzled sweater over only a bra that I was not abiding by the dress code when I was wearing loafers, dress socks, dress pants, and a good sweater over a collarless shirt. I needed to be wearing a shirt with a collar, or would lose my job. Double standards are definitely infuriating.

  2. If I am wearing yoga pants, I am either coming from a workout or going to one. Sometimes ‘coming from’ or ‘going to’ lasts a while … workout, lunch, errands … I don’t see the pants as having anything more to do with feminism than sweat pants do, they’re workout clothes. I don’t let my son go to school in sweat pants because I think he looks sloppy, and if I had a daughter, I wouldn’t let her do it either. On the weekends, he can wear what he wants as long as it’s clean and appropriate for where he’s going.

  3. Hi, yoga-pants wearer here.

    I usually wear them not for fashion, but so I can get my work done at the coffee shop I go to and then go on a run. They’re also super comfortable. I feel a bit self conscious in them, so sometimes I wrap my sweater around my butt for some extra coverage when I’m not on my run.

    I’m okay with people like you who are uncomfortable with them. I certainly have opinions on styles of clothing, that I realize is just my subjective point of view. I think it’s also okay to set limits, as a parent, of what styles of clothing you consider appropriate.

    Clothes are a personal choice, and it makes sense that there are differences in taste. If only everyone realized that it’s okay to have your own tastes, and not feel the need to dictate them.

  4. I’m not American, but in my country lots of women wear those yoga pants in their daily life and nobody gives a shit (unless they’re fat, because fat-shaming, unfortunately, it’s still a huge thing here). It’s just seen as normal informal clothing.

  5. I think in all honesty they are comfy and thats that. I often don’t wear them for sport but more just for lounging about generally with massive t-shirts. It’s all a question of taste

  6. I where yoga pants when I go to yoga. I break dress codes with what I wear and I don’t care. (Really I was sent to the principal’s office for wearing a shirt that said “this is what a feminist looks like”. Then we had a talk about how feminsit people are bad and crap like that. I was suspended. I am in 5th grade so they feel that I belive in gender equality is inapplicable/inappropriate as a 11yo. Leaves me with one question. WTF?
    ~Nikki Roseworth

  7. Rape and harassment are never excused no matter what. Just don’t be fooled in to thinking these girls where them to school because of the comfort. It’s a good way to show off their assets.

    • We “wear” (not where) them for comfort. It takes an egotistical male to think that all women consider men’s perceptions about their asses. I can honestly say, when I get dressed, that does not factor into my decision. An uncomfortably tight waistband versus a stretchy one is just too appealing to give much care towards what a man or any other woman thinks of my ass. Hello comfort, goodbye people who think others consider what is thought about them instead of focusing on the way they feel, see, and consider themselves. I wonder: do men wear gym shorts to simply show off their penis bulge? Doubtful. Wear whatever you want, no matter your sex or gender identity, age or weight. Be comfortable in your own skin because you deserve it and life is hard enough without black slacks and tight zippers everyday. Rapers will rape, haters will hate, and egos and opinions truly are like assholes.

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