By Kate Kole
I’m wearing sweatpants as I write. Which is unsurprising, because I spend as much time as possible in my sweats. It’s been a lifelong love affair between me and that glorious cotton/poly blend and I have the childhood photos to prove just how often I’ve chosen to favor comfort over fashion.
So, it pretty much goes without saying that I can totally get on board with hitting the gym in sweats. Especially on an 8-degree morning, like the one detailed in The New York Times OpEd piece, ‘Why Yoga Pants Are Bad For Women’.
What I can’t get on board with is this: shaming women who choose to wear anything else, like the “skintight, saran-wrap-thin yoga pants” the author references.
And what I’m really not here for is the suggestion that we’ve “internalized the idea that we have to look hot at the gym,” and the argument that “the gym is one of the few places we’re supposed to be able to focus on how our bodies feel, not just how they look.”
As someone who spends a lot of her time in a gym setting, and often dresses in leggings while there, let me be clear, I don’t buy my yoga pants with someone else in mind the same way I don’t apply mascara in hopes of pleasing the masses with my appearance. I do those things for me.
Sometimes, I buy my leggings because I like the pattern, and other times, because they fit well, and every once in a while, because I think they make my ass look nice – and vain as it may be – I feel good when my ass looks nice. Regardless of the specific reason for my purchase, one common theme exists: my pants have nothing to do with you and everything to do with me.
The same goes, I’d imagine, for women who decide to pay for classes like SoulCycle and Barre, don FitBits and prioritize exercise in their daily lives. Those decisions aren’t a personal attack or harsh judgement on their non-fitness loving peers. Nor are they an inherent cry for self-acceptance and self-worth. Maybe they’re for endorphins, and maybe they’re for feeling part of a community. Maybe they’re for better heart health and lower cholesterol, and maybe they’re for feeling strong and empowered. Whatever their reasons, they aren’t about you or me.
We need to stop criticizing other people for the harmless personal decisions they make simply because they aren’t the same ones we would make. And we need to stop projecting our own beliefs onto others as if they are the standard by which we all should live. And dear God, we need to stop caring what other women choose to wear to the gym at 6 a.m.
The debate over “right” and “wrong” extends so far beyond yoga pants. It trickles into every arena in this already hard enough life: parenting, marriage, education, religion, sexuality, and I could go on, but I need to make dinner tonight and I just don’t have the time to type out all the topics.
Bottom line: Can we please just take the laser focus off other people’s innocuous individual choices and focus on our own instead? Wear sweatpants. Wear yoga pants. Wear whatever you want. Because, as the wise Amy Poehler once said, “That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”
Featured Image via Pexels