Last Week, the New York Times published an article entitled “Why Yoga Pants Are Bad For Women.” It described the biggest threat facing women today: yoga pants.
Already annoyed at the title (probably their creative clickbait goal), I started reading. While Honor took in similar experiences that we here at Sassy Pants have had, we seem to have come to vastly different conclusions.
And while my initial reaction was to rail against this article for all of its false presumptions, I think my biggest message is this: you’re missing the whole point.
We know this not only from our own experiences, but from the research we’ve done and data we’ve collected from hundreds of women.
Clothing has an inescapable effect on our psyche. In fact, there is even a coined psychological term for it: enclothed cognition. Dr. Adam Galinsky from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University studied the effect of clothing on our bodies. They found that it was not enough to just study the clothes and our reactions. The clothes involved in this study had to be loaded with symbology. The study found through 3 different experiments that simply wearing a lab coat led to greater attention and carefulness. And it wasn't just the coat. When they told the subjects it was a painter's coat, they didn't see the same improvements in performance. A symbolic piece of clothing changes human behavior. Amazing.
Those "evil" yoga pants come loaded with symbology, too. They’re symbols of movement, health, and achievement of one's goals. Women put the perfect pants on their body and feel like superheroes. They can do anything.
Telling women that their preferred item of clothing is trashy or not imbued with this symbology, you're not helping women, you're hurting them. Because what is the symbology of wearing something that “is basically just towels with waistbands”?
It’s easy to write off fashion as a frivolous use of material and energy. But if these pants or the best jeans or a lab coat can actually change how we think and what we accomplish, it's very difficult to justify writing them off at all.
Feeling sexy or hot often times isn’t for anyone else besides ourselves. Women dress how they dress because of a multitude of reasons most of which are personal, internal, and empowering. Telling women what to wear and not wear is a dangerous game. And that’s an incredibly slippery slope.
So yes, wear whatever you want. I don’t care. But, wear what YOU want to wear. What makes you feel good. And “good” can mean sexy. It can mean whatever the hell you want it to mean. And if that feel good item is yoga pants - wear the damn yoga pants.
Nancy Calderone is the CEO of Sassy Pants. She's convinced that powerful change for good happens when you rally your most trusted lady friends and make a few dozen Google Docs. When she's not training for a triathlon or marathon, she enjoys a night at home with the world's largest bowl of popcorn, a bottle of wine, and Season 2 of the West Wing.