Recently, Montana House Representative David Moore announced that he would be fighting to make yoga pants illegal in public, as he believe they are a form of indecent exposure. Interesting way to look at things…literally.
When I first caught wind of this, I was immediately reminded of Veronica Patridge, the blogger whose post about her decision to stop wearing yoga pants in an effort to respect God and her husband recently went viral. Veronica claims that she has chosen to forgo leggings from here on out, as they often create “lustful” feelings in men. While this is a personal choice that Patridge is more than welcome to make, it seems as if she might be taking the blame for the behavior of men and adjusting her lifestyle accordingly. Ultimately, I’m not sure that Patridge is making this choice for herself, but rather is making an effort to appease her husband by attempting to draw less attention to herself, while serving God at the same time.
…something here just isn’t right.
Over the past several years, with the rise in popularity of high quality, on-trend activewear brands, such as Lululemon and Athleta, along with fashion houses like Alexander Wang, Badgely Mischka and Ralph Lauren (among others) releasing “athlesuire” lines, activewear is finding its place not only at the gym, but in the streets, at the office and out on the town. These brands have helped to make the lives of busy women everywhere easier by designing pieces that can easily transition from the yoga studio to the office with a simple change of shoes and the addition of some accessories. Well-known blogger, Leandra Medine of Man Repeller experimented with this idea back in September and really drove the point home. Workout clothes can and should be worn outside of the studio, as long as you are comfortable doing so.
So, where’s the problem? Going back to Veronica Patridge, we can start to see that the real issue at hand isn’t that women are indecently exposing themselves while wearing yoga pants, but is instead a result of the way women continued to be viewed in society: as sexual objects who were put here to serve men and therefore, are viewed in ways that continue to perpetuate this antiquated way of thinking.
The definition of indecent exposure is the “intentional exposure of part of one’s body (as the genitals) in a place where such exposure is likely to be an offense against the generally accepted standards of decency” and the crime of indecent exposure is considered to be “exposing your sexual organs to others in public”. According to David Moore, yoga pants should fall under this umbrella, and wearing them should be considered a crime. But here’s my question: if society is going to start considering wearing yoga pants to be a form of indecent exposure, where will they draw the line? No more crop tops? Shorts? Form fitting dresses? Will we be expected to wear t-shirts at the beach? Will men be held to similar standards? And where will we place the blame? On the women who choose to wear leggings out of comfort, ease and preference? Or on the men who see a woman in tight yoga pants, direct their gaze towards their backsides and immediately begin to view her as an object of sexual desire?
When it comes down to it, no one is indecently exposing anything in this situation. Just because I’m wearing leggings to my yoga class and running errands in them after doesn’t mean I’m trying to expose myself to innocent bystanders or even that I want to attract attention to myself in any sort of way (similar to the way that women in short dresses or low cut tops aren’t “asking for it”). It just means that I have chosen to wear pants that are comfortable and appropriate for practicing yoga and being active in, that also happen to be tight and formfitting…should I be fined for that? As a New Yorker, I’ve personally witnessed indecent exposure and believe me when I tell you that it looks nothing like a girl walking down the street in leggings.
Instead of trying to enforce a dress code upon an entire state, which is extremely unrealistic considering that we can’t even manage to enforce laws that actually impact our lives, David Moore (and anyone with this point of view) needs to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The issue here does not lie with women that wear leggings, but with the way society continues to view women.
Women are beautiful…no one can argue with that. We come in many different shapes and sizes, have different styles and express our beauty in a variety of ways…no two women are ever beautiful in the same way. We should be appreciated and recognized for our beauty no matter how we choose to express that (within reason, of course), not criticized and demeaned by it, and telling society that the way women choose to dress could be viewed as criminal isn’t going to help change this way of thinking, but only perpetuate it further.