I know. I can't believe it either, but here I am feeling compelled to write about yoga pants. There has recently been "Yoga Pant-Gate" or the "Yoga Pantapocalypse" or whatever else you want to call the debate of where and how yoga pants figure into the modesty wars and the downfall of modern civilization.
A few weeks ago there was this blog post about "Why I Chose to No Longer Wear Leggings" in which the Christian female blogger stated that she no longer wore leggings or yoga pants because "when women wear them it creates a stronger attraction for a man to look at a woman’s body and may cause them to think lustful thoughts." For a (Christian) male perspective on the issue, there was this blog post. It is slow to load, but I read it the other day. The gist is that yeah, as a general rule, guys dig the way the female derriere looks in yoga pants, but it is the guy's choice and responsibility to decide whether or not to objectify a woman.
Then Christianity Today steps in with a balanced perspective stating, "Men remain exclusively responsible for their lust," but adding "Women are always called to consider their brothers in Christ...We're compelled to take the perspective of the other into account, because we're not rogue Christians… we’re in this together." (Note I did edit the quotes, while trying to keep the context and intent intact. Read the full article for complete context.)
So here's my take on the yoga pant debacle. I am a Christian woman. I wear yoga pants. I actually wear yoga pants to yoga, so I think that's totally legit. I also wear yoga-esque pants (stretchy, lycra capris) to run or do other exercise. Usually I work out and then change, but sometimes I do have to run by the store on my way home so there might be a slight chance that I am out in public in my yoga pants. I can assure you that I am not out to tempt men in my sweaty, disheveled, and happily married state. But...yikes...sometimes I am not wearing my wedding ring either since my fingers often swell when I exercise. That doesn't mean I am trying to make people think I am not married. I wear yoga pants because they are stretchy and have plenty of "give" when exercising and they are very comfortable. I am not trying to seduce unsuspecting, weak-willed men. Yoga pants are not as heavy as sweatpants and they stay put. I also don't have to worry about accidentally flashing someone as I do when I wear shorts. Whether shorter shorts or even longer, baggy shorts, when moving around and exercising it is easy to see up a leghole.
But here's where I get confused...and a little bit angry. In Modesty, Yoga Pants, and 5 Myths You Need to Know, a female blogger stated that her husband said,
"The more you cover up, the more [a Christian man] will want you. Men like mystery, and when you reveal that mystery walking down the street, there is no reason for them to pursue you. They’ve already gotten their reward."
So wearing yoga pants shows too much and makes a man lust and objectify you, but covering up makes men want you. I think it is clear that the "want" in the above quote is a sexual want. The problem with this is
- First of all, it implies a damned if you do, damned if you don't mindset. If I wear yoga pants, or a bikini, or a plunging neckline, then I am a stumbling block leading men down a sinful path. Let's just go ahead and put to rest the notion that women CAUSE men to lust. Men get to be in control of their own thoughts. In fact, it's a fruit of the spirit called self--control and it's one of the biggies. On the flip side though, I should dress more modestly and demurely because not showing all of the goods will entice men to want me more. Why is the desire of men the end-all anyway. How does that make sense? Now that we are all covered up are we just inviting men to undress us in their minds? I do think that women shouldn't intentionally dress provocatively in public (more on that later this week), but there is something very wrong with the notion that women should dress modestly so that men will want them more. By the same token, I am most attracted physically by a man's eyes and hands...therefore, should all men who interact with me wear sunglasses and gloves? Oh, I am also really attracted to a good sense of humor, compassion, and intelligence, so please don't say anything funny around me or show kindness. It might lead to rampant swooning. Seems that a lot of these modesty edicts are either written by men who have no clue that women also have sexual thoughts or by women who don't acknowledge their sexuality.
- The "men will want you" ridiculousness aside, here is the most alarming thing about the above quote: "...When you reveal that mystery...there is no reason for them to pursue you." How horrific! How damaging! How demeaning and misogynistic! The implied meaning in those words is that the ONLY reason a man would "pursue" (oh, how I hate that word in this context too!) a woman is sexual. Apparently men are interested on only one thing (sex) and not a woman's kindness, intellect, sense of humor, personality, or soul. Although the author of the blog says she is writing to a Christian audience, that is a very unbiblical comment that she wrote, quoting her husband. All people are created in the image of God and aren't to be viewed as a potential sexual conquest period...regardless of how they are clothed. I would be VERY concerned if my husband said, in all essence, that the men who see a woman dressed immodestly have "already gotten their reward" meaning that sexual fantasies are all women are good for. Yikes!
- And then, finally, at the end of the day I am not dressing for men. Part of this whole discussion assumes that I am outwardly focused in what I choose to wear; that I am dressing for the approval or admiration of men. With the exception of when I am going out on a date with my husband and I am dressing, in part, for him, my daily attire is not based on what men will think of me. I only care about what three men think of me and those three men are my husband and our two sons. I don't want to ever embarrass them with how I dress. I also consider my clothing in regard to the setting. I want to dress professionally and deliberately for the workplace. I might wear something to a social event that I wouldn't wear to work, but that is more an issue of social appropriateness of context. When I get dressed for the day I want to wear clothes that make me feel confident, put-together, and professional. And because I want to project competence and would prefer that people focus on my skillset and not my appearance, I would never intentionally wear anything that shows cleavage or is too short, tight, etc. to work either.
So I will continue to wear yoga pants to yoga and I will dress professionally for work and I will do so in the confidence that I am appropriate to the situation. Oh! And men can be responsible for their own thoughts concerning how they choose to view women.
And finally, how about we spend our time and energy getting mad about things more important than yoga pants, 'kay? Here's 10 of them.