Earlier this year Christian blogger Veronica Partridge published a piece titled, “Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings,” explaining her new leggings free lifestyle. In the post Partridge says this decision was “weighing heavy on my heart.” She discussed the problem she was having with her husband. His response helped her make her decision, “Yeah, when I walk into a place and there are women wearing yoga pants everywhere, it’s hard not to look. I try not to, but it’s not easy.” Yikes.
Before we get into my list of what is wrong with this piece let us dig up some positive aspects. I appreciate the fact that Partridge shared her story. As a fellow blogger, I know how it can be difficult to share aspects of your personal life in your writing.
As someone who does not consider herself very religious, I have deep respect for those who diligently follow the spiritual path they find most useful for them.
Partridge subsequently posted a follow-up post, which you can read here. In it she discussed the hurtful and harmful responses she has received while also highlighting some interesting questions and comments. She did not deserve to receive hate mail or salacious and damaging comments, as these never move the dialogue forward.
Creating shame around yoga pants doesn’t serve anyone and is detrimental to everyone.
The post hurts men by perpetuating the idea that they simply can’t control their caveman urges. It hurts women by restricting their options and making them responsible for protecting themselves from the male gaze. Finally, it’s bad for body diversity. Readers have used this post to fat shame, centering on who should and should not wear yoga pants.
The link between making yoga pants shameful and rape culture should be obvious. For anyone unfamiliar with the definition of rape culture, here’s one taken from Women Against Violence Against Women:
Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”
By telling people that she will not be wearing yoga pants because doing so arouses men to a point where they can’t control their actions makes women responsible for male sexual assault—a classic example of victim blaming. Once again we fall back on the ancient notion that men are beasts. If I were a guy, I would be insulted. We must stop perpetuating this myth so men who do assault cannot employ this excuse, as in:
I’m sorry hun I did not want to cheat, but like that Christian blogger said, I just can not help myself because ya know, I’m a guy …
As a woman, I can wear whatever I want, and it is not my job to prevent men from catcalling or assaulting. It is not my job to make sure their wandering eyes don’t ogle my butt in yoga pants. It is not my job to make sure men do not lust after me because I revealed too much shoulder (yes this really happened). The clothing on a woman’s body does not dictate what men are allowed to do to her. Period.
The other disturbing thing about Partridge’s article was way people shared it. My recent Facebook experience showed people sharing the article and praising her for her choice. They were not praising her for her being devoted to her faith, which was how she framed her decision; they were applauding her for shaming women’s choices.
It’s time for people to stop taking it upon themselves to police women’s choices. It is nobody else’s job to decide what a woman feels comfortable and attractive in or how much she should weigh.
Also, the double standard in this situation is blatant. Men get to work out with their shirts off all the time. No biggie. When I ran in my sports bra in high school, I got in trouble for being so revealing. Never mind that it was extremely hot out. Women’s bodies continue to be a sight that the public thinks they have a right to control.
Let’s move towards a culture that teaches women to be comfortable in whatever they choose, and in which men are not allowed to dictate those choices. A culture where women are not held to unfair body standards, and men are not given excuses as to why they can’t control themselves. Can we do that now, please?
Partridge’s rationale for not wearing leggings and yoga pants deeply disturbs. But hey, more stretchy pants for me!