Sunday, February 8, 2015

Yoga Pants? (Sigh) Yes, Yoga Pants



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 twofold threefold.

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.




Saturday, January 31, 2015

Marvin & Lou and Joe & Sue


It seems that my whole life I have had some older adult who was not related to me with whom I somehow ended up having a formative relationship. When I was in elementary school, it was Mrs. Gwaltney. She lived across the street from me and she was a first grade teacher, although never my first grade teacher. Her back door was a Dutch door and there was a rolled pad of paper hanging by it, so if she wasn't there when I dropped by I could always leave a note. When she was there, she welcomed me and the other neighborhood kids over. Sometimes we just talked with her. Sometimes she led us in little craft projects. She never judged or lectured or punished like teachers at school or parents. She just listened and accepted and all of the children in the neighborhood loved her for it.


There was also Mr. Julian at my grandmother's church. When I would go to church with her, he would always joke around with me. I remember being in a Sunday school class with him and there were some books written in Braille. I have no idea why. Anyway, he would run his fingers along the Braille and "read" the stories to me. It took me a few years to realize that he wasn't magical, but that he was just making them up along the way.


Older adults (ages older than my parents and approaching my grandparents ages) have come in and out of my life all along the way. When I was a teenage hospital volunteer I struck up some friendships with the senior adult volunteers. In college, there were some senior adults who invested in college students and I came to know and love them.


When Robert was in seminary, we moved from Ft. Worth to a tiny little town about 40 miles south called Covington, TX, pop. 254. Robert was the youth minister at First Baptist, Covington which was a small church with an average attendance of about 60. We had a parsonage there (affectionately referred to as the Little Shack on the Prairie) and we commuted every day to Ft. Worth; Robert to seminary and me to my job at various nursing homes. It was at FBC, Covington that we met Joe and Sue. Joe was a retired Air Force Colonel and Sue did a little bit of everything. They lived on a small farm and had grown children a little bit older than us, who lived in various cities out of town. Joe and Sue often had us over for dinner and checked up on us. Joe has a big smile and a slow drawl. He defies every military stereotype with his warm and winsome personality. Sue is gracious and no-nonsense. There is nothing she can't do. She canned vegetables, caned chairs, sewed, did farmwork, and gave Joe a run for his money. There were funny and welcoming. I will never forget the time that they had us over for dinner and in a confessional tone told us that they were really liking that "new show, Seinfeld."


A perfect example of how they invested in Robert and me in our early years of marriage and when we became parents, is our last day in Covington. Robert had just graduated from seminary and gotten his first full-time ministry position. We were moving ourselves in a U-Haul from Covington, TX to Carthage, MO and we had a 9 month old baby. Sue volunteered to babysit Adam at her house all day. Joe came over and helped load the U-Haul. Sue brought us over lunch. Everything took much longer than expected due to thunderstorms and people who promised to help us load that didn't show up. Our U-Haul ended up getting stuck in the mud and had to be towed out. We were exhausted beyond belief. Sue had been caring for Adam for about 10 hours. We had expected to leave that afternoon, but it was close to 9 pm when we pulled out. Before we left, Sue cooked us a delicious and filling sit-down dinner at their house. We couldn't have prepared to move without them.


Joe and Sue are now 83 years old. We get a hand written Christmas card from them every single year without fail. Sue also updates us on their family news and I don't think that they have yet to slow down. I am well aware that there will be an upcoming Christmas in which there's no card with Sue's microscopic handwriting and Texas postmark. I am so thankful to have them as mentors and friends even now.


When we moved to Missouri, Marvin and Lou became our new Joe and Sue. We stayed with them during part of the interview process and then remained friends throughout our time there. Marvin was on the search committee and chair of the deacons when Robert was hired. Lou was a first grade teacher and became state president of the State Education Association as well. Like Sue, she was a strong, empowered woman. We get a handwritten Christmas card from Lou every year as well. This year, actually it was a belated New Year's card. Again, Marvin and Lou had us over for dinner, watched as we added baby number 2 to our family, and served as mentors, guides, and friends. Here are two excerpts from her last letter just this past week.


First, she recalls sweet memories of Adam and Noah:


And then, to show she knows us and is currently invested in our lives, there's this:


Robert and I laughed out loud for 2 reasons. First of all, Belts is an ice cream place that is a favorite landmark and iconic event/place in Stevens Point. Everyone goes to Belts for ice cream. I also love her sense of humor talking about Leviticus here. Marvin and Lou are now in their mid-70s and she still teaches over twenty first grade BOYS in Sunday school every week and works with the 4 year olds in nursery at Bible Study Fellowship. She and Marvin are retired, but on the go with their volunteering, ministry, and traveling.

Marvin and Lou and Joe and Sue have been deep abiding friends. They have been in that grey area of ages between our parents and grandparents and have served as surrogates of sorts for us when we lived far away from our own families. They took us in and loved us...uncondtionally. They showed us gracious hospitality. As a young mother, Sue and Lou helped me see how not to sweat the small stuff. They have been strong female role models for me and both couples have shown Robert and I what a solid marriage built on faith, love, mutual respect, and hard work looks like. I am so thankful to have these wonderful older adults take the time to invest in me and my family. When I grow up, I want to be just like them. And I hope you find your own Marvin, Lou, Joe, and Sue.