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The Comfort and Sexualization of Yoga Pants

in YD News, Yoga Pants, YogOpinions

God created yoga pants

Oh, yoga pants, you are just so comfy and easy to wear! But did you know your stretchy shape is bringing all the boys to the yard? Apparently some men can’t get enough of women in yoga pants, hence at least one ridiculous, hypersexualized buns and camel toe fest website, and articles like this one from Nathan Graziano at The Good Men Project where he confesses, “I’m obsessed with yoga pants. There, I said it. I can’t stop thinking about those damn yoga pants.”* Poor guy.

(*this is not a reflection on ALL men, of course.)

“Yoga pants have brought out my worst chauvinistic characteristics—the characteristics I’d like deny exist inside me. But when it comes to yoga pants, I can’t,” he continues, because yoga pants are “revealing” and “provocative” you see, even though when he asked women why they wear yoga pants they told him it’s because they’re comfortable. But to Nathan there is something much more sinister going on, because baggy sweatpants and pj pants are comfortable too, right? And they’re not anywhere near as sexy and/or part of a plot to mercilessly turn every man on.

“I have a hard time believing that—outside of the gym or the yoga classes—women wear yoga pants solely for comfort.”

“…baggy sweatpants are also comfortable, so I can only assume there’s more to it. There is an implicit game here—the age-old tease where women flaunt and men look.”

Yes, clearly yoga pants are worn for the benefit of ogling men and they are designed precisely for the common male weakness: thoughts. In fact, Nathan, you have no idea. Yoga pants are just one little part of a master plan for women to take over the world one yoga pants sucker at a time. It’s exactly why prominent women like Hillary Clinton and Arianna Huffington are where they are today. Maybe you haven’t seen them wearing yoga pants. That’s because they wear them under their regular clothes, but the yoga pants still maintain their magical powers! Oprah‘s known the undercover yp secret for decades.

We can cut Nathan a little break here and say that yes, yoga pants can be form fitting and unfortunately some are constructed from ill-advised sheer-when-you-bend materials. We’ve all seen it and probably don’t ever need to see it again.

Some are concerned about the all occasion yoga pants “style” trickling down to teenage girls. Amelia McDonell-Parry at The Frisky pointed to this comment by Tom Matlack, founder of The Good Men Project who is shocked by girls wearing yoga pants to school or anywhere else:

“yeah honestly I have to admit this whole deal is more than a little alarming to me … when most of the girls in my daughter’s high school show up in very revealing skin tight yoga pants it seems to me like something has gone a bit off. … I guess I like that women feel comfortable in their own yoga skin and also that fitness is something that we all generally are more aware of. But I do ask myself repeatedly how it became okay to wear close to nothing to dinner or class or a movie? I am not a prude by any means. But what ever happen to a nice pair of jeans and a white t-shirt?”

OK, first, “close to nothing”? When it comes to how teens dress today, at least they’re pants. And we’d have to debate that a lot of stretchy jeans out there aren’t any less skin tight. The concern about teenage girls wearing yoga pants is real though, and actually several high schools around the continent recently started banning yoga pants because they’re too sexy and revealing. (see: cheerleading uniforms are ok though.)

But come to think of it, no. Are we all really too sex-crazed to the point where clothed, rounded bodily shapes are too much to handle? What do you do when those poor innocent children view nude bodies in ancient art or sculpture? There’s something fundamentally wrong here, and we can’t quite put our naked finger on it.

Back to yoga pants. How did it become ok to wear them? When we, women, decided it was ok. When we started practicing yoga and decided we would feel good in our bodies and our clothes while doing anything from yoga to running errands to sitting on the couch. When we said screw it, these are so much easier to slide on than those rigid, strait-jacket muffin top squooshers we shimmy into to “dress up.” We wear yoga pants because they’re comfortable and we don’t need Houdini to help us in or out of them.

Probably a lot of us could relate to Meagan Morris at the Cosmo blog who says her internal dialogue is more like, ”I don’t want to wear jeans today. I’ll just wear these [yoga pants] instead. They’re like luxe pajamas that don’t force me to suck in.”

McDonell-Parry at The Frisky plays down wearing yoga pants, too, as a comfort measure:

“I wear yoga pants basically all weekend, to run errands, to walk my dog, around the house, and sometimes to go to brunch. Yoga pants! They’re the best! Apparently some guys find them drool worthy — I’ve yet to be hollered at while wearing mine, but maybe that’s because I have no makeup on, my hair is unwashed and I’m in a rush to get home to eat my footlong Subway sandwich. The best thing about yoga pants is they stretch while I eat all the food!”

And yet, do some of us feel our shapes look super awesome in them? Sure. (Can we let go of the freaky sci-fi perfect butt obsession though, ladies?) Yoga pants aren’t all about trading comfort for frump. But do we wear them to taunt men and give them a hard on? Hardly.

On a personal note, as a kid I spent a lot of time at my local dancing school, and in the world, wearing tights or dance pants, so the transition to adulthood yoga pants came as second nature. I can only think of my dancing days and ask, should girls feel so self- and body-conscious to the point where they don’t feel confident enough to practice yoga or dance because some hooligans can’t stop drooling over them as sex objects? Which would be a shame since yoga for teen girls has shown some real promise. If you ask me, the whole yoga pants as every day clothing thing seems to be a combination of yoga’s apparent billion dollar ubiquity and our re-embracing of 80s and 90s leggings (they never really did go away, did they?).

That clothing companies and designers have crossed the lines themselves in what you wear to yoga or exercise class and what you might wear out to brunch has only encouraged the habit of ease and comfort and a lot of times looking cute, too. Is it to impress guys, other women or make ourselves feel good is maybe a question to ask ourselves, but it shouldn’t cloud our decision to wear them.

Who knew yoga pants would become a sex symbol? Ladies, do you feel like one when you wear them? Guys, what say you?

hollypenny is a lady, a yoga practitioner, yoga teacher and yoga pants advocate.
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Earlier

48 comments… add one

  • In all honesty, I never wear baggy sweatpants in public because they get in the way! I have a pair of lululemon lounge pants and they are on the long side, and I don’t like all the extra fabric if I’m running around the city trying to get things done. If I’m wearing skin-tight yoga pants (capris, ankle length, or even slightly flared but shorter than my sweats) – I can move about without the burden of stepping on my hems. Plus, yoga pants look less sloppy!

    I have never ONCE thought “oh, I’m going to wear the hell out of these yoga pants because guys LOVE it”. Get over yourself, guys.

  • OMstatic

    You can take your lululemon pant in to any store and they’ll hem them for free! Amaze!

  • I love that about lululemon – however, these particular lounge pants are just voluminous on the bottom and like I said – too much fabric. Yoga pants, particularly my capris (like the WunderUnder crops) are perfectly streamlined!

  • Ashley

    Hah! I love the article. I would like to have the option to choose that I wear yoga pants outside of a yoga class because they are easy & comfortable AND that they make me look sexy.

    Choice number three: Both.

    “OK, first, ‘close to nothing’? When it comes to how teens dress today, at least they’re pants. ”
    ^props

  • Ken

    If yoga pants are sexy it is because they cover the toned legs of fit yoginis rendered beautiful inside and out by a regular yoga practice. ;-)

  • KF2

    I’m in my yoga pants because I just walked out of yoga class or I am walking to it – in between I get to run errands and kids around. I would not put them on if I was not coming in and out of class – any chance to put on real clothing is a blessing! And if your in shape your going to catch someones eye no matter the pants you put on.

  • Lets be honest…yoga pants are seriously comfy and also dead sexy!

  • As a full time yoga teacher I wear yoga pants 6. days a week from sun up to sundown not because they’re sexy and the fact they are comfy is a bonus but to me they’re work clothes I feel blessed to wear

  • Mr. Nervous Toes

    Men should start wearing cod-pieces again.

  • Yogaga

    It doesn’t matter what you wear, if someone is intent on misusing their sexual energy and interprets situations through that lens, you can be wearing a burka and will still be blamed for being too sexy.

  • SoBeach

    Yes, yoga britches are sexy. So are sweat pants. And cocktail dresses. And jeans. Doesn’t mean we men are free to get all pervy about it. Sheesh.

  • Jen

    I am a yoga teacher and 35 weeks pregnant. My yoga pants are pretty much the only clothing that still fits and are comfortable to wear without making me feel like a buffalo. I wear them teaching, running errands and under tunics and dresses as leggings… because why not?Needless to say I am not doing this to get any male attention at this point! HA!

  • jen

    I wear yoga pants with heels and a blazer for a sales call then teach in the night time or practice. They look great, they feel great, they wash up easy and they come in boot leg,pencil,slacks,crops …whatever. I don’t worry about the males diggin it or not. who cares?

  • Passer_By

    I’m pretty sure it’s all about comfort rather than sex appeal – which is why you also see so many men wearing them all day.

  • I don’t even think of yoga pants as being especially sexy. I’m aware of this whole “yoga pants get me hard” trend, but I don’t quite understand what the big deal is. So they’re form-fitting…yeah, sure, I can see why you’d appreciate that, but why is it that they’re suddenly becoming a fetish? There are certainly pieces of clothing that leave much less to the imagination.

    Yoga pants are comfortable and easy to move in. That’s why we wear them for yoga. Sure, I do like they flatter my derriere, but I have never once thought, “I want some male attention, I’m gonna throw on some yoga pants!”

  • There are larger sociological issues here but I’ll save (most of) them for another time & place.

    In general let me say that the fact that women so oppose being ‘looked at’ in any way and for any reason is frustrating no matter what the reason (real or contrived). I understand there is more to life than physical attraction, but you must admit there is a ‘cosmic’ design thing going on here that is hard to oppose. And yes, I’ll admit that men have done a lot of damage to gender relationships by not going to college, segregating themselves in gun clubs & cigar bars, getting face and neck tattoos, and dry humping each other in MMA classes (p.s. I’ve done most of those).

    But isn’t being desirous to the opposite sex part of the natural order of things? Equally frustrating is the realization after reading this post that there is no woman that wants to be anything (fit, attractive, desirous, etc.) to anyone other than herself? This seems (in a surprising twist) quite shallow, ladies.

    PS Aren’t these (and the other) things the very unbalance in modern life that Yoga proposes to address?

  • C

    Seriously? So men are “misusing” their sexual energy or are otherwise degenerate if they are turned on by a hot booty in yoga pants? Please. Moronic neanderthals aside, I would think basic physical attraction to living people is a good thing. If a man is stupid enough to think that it’s just (worn) to turn men on, he obviously doesn’t know women very well. If a woman wants to wear it because she thinks it looks hot, so what? I guess I’m just surprised that the female commenters here are completely stumped by why men could possibly be turned on by yoga pants that are form-fitting and form-accentuating, hmmmm. Obviously it’s not all men all the time, but…I think I need to do some deep breathing, so argumentative this morning.

  • Yes – love it!

  • Jen

    Well, of course when I think about it I can understand the appreciation for yoga pants. But Graziano basically implied that he thinks it’s a giant conspiracy and that women are doing this just to turn him on. And what’s problematic is that he’s obsessed with it and ashamed and blaming women for being evil enough to want to tease him instead of just accepting that hey, he thinks women’s butts look good in yoga pants, ok, whatever, cool.

    So I don’t think many of us are entirely stumped as to why yoga pants could be deemed attractive as much as we are baffled that we’re being accused of wanting to wear them just to turn men on when the primary reason we like them is that they’re comfortable.

  • Ranter

    I wish people would stop wearing yoga pants everywhere all the time, and also please stop wearing pajamas and sweats in public. I wear my yoga pants to and from class. I have no problem going for coffee, lunch, running and errand, etc. in my yoga pants as long it’s on the way to or from class. I have no problem with yoga teachers or fitness instructors wearing yoga pants every day. As for everyone else, if you aren’t doing yoga or some fitness activity, put on some jeans or pants. (Exceptions for pregnant women or people who are sick/under the weather.)

    Where I live, every woman seems to wear yoga pants all the time. You have the fancy pants in their Lululemon wearing them for status, and then people who can’t be bothered to put on pants. Finally, this is horribly bitchy, but there are a lot of young women in the town where I work, who wear yoga pants or pajamas with Ugg boots all the time. They should probably wear a long sweater or choose something less form fitting. I do not think these women have ever been to a yoga class in their lives- I see them smoking cigarettes on their porches in the middle of the day and walking into McDonald’s. It seems that there desire to be comfortable supersedes there desire for dignity.

    There’s something to be said for dressing up. It says that you respect yourself and take yourself seriously. There is a time and place for everything, yoga pants included

  • Sue

    I agree with you Ranter. Looking good is a gift to your fellow man. Person. Whatever.

    Judgement, people – use a bit of judgement.

    Oh well.. I assume my fashion sense is in the minority. ; )

  • Sue

    Some women look great in yoga pants, but they sure don’t look good on everyone, just like bikinis, tube tops, etc. It took me quite a few years to figure out what suited me and what didn’t, and I cringe to think of some of the stuff I used to wear in high school. I am SO glad I didn’t have to deal with yoga pants then….

    I do not like showing my camel toe in public. When dressed in yoga pants I wear a tunic length shirt or jacket on top.
    I do not like looking at other women’s camel toe, in public or anywhere. Icch, I say, ICCH.
    It’s only a matter of time before ill-fitting, ill-advised yoga pants become the butt of jokes in film and TV. (pun intended)

    And, I actually feel sorry for men who get distracted by this yoga-pant thing. There’s not much to be done about it.. fashion is fashion, and fashion crime is not punishable by law in our western societies.

    So, people who must fight to control their urges (be it a sex urge or the urge to vomit) at the sight of yoga pants will just have to put up with it – but I for one will not be nice and shut up about it!

  • patty

    If your camel toe is visible that means the pants/leggins are much too tight

  • Colleen

    Gee, i’ve been blissfully ignorant of this whole yoga pants debacle/debate going on. Being a boomer, i’ve seen a lot of fashion fads come and thankfully go. I love my yoga pants, but i only wear them to class or to teach. I am not comfortable being on display to the whole world, but then that’s just me. We women ogle and admire (c’mon now ladies, ‘fess up, you know you do!)the dudes in their cool Dockers or Wranglers, or sexy power suits or whatevers, so why are men raked over the coals when women wear too-revealing clothes? I think we all just need to get over ourselves and chill out.

  • Karen

    Seems to me that human sexuality is plastic enough that we can get fixated on anything. The Victorian middle classes even covered their table and chair legs in little ruffled skirts for modesty’s sake, and so an accidental flash of ankle, or wrist, or even the obsession with hair was born. All humans could live in burqas 247, and there would be websites devoted to the ways in which burqas are worn to highlight women’s bodies and hypersexualise our kids.

    The problem isn’t what people are wearing.

    The problem is a culturally entrenched power dynamic in which whatever women wear and however we present ourselves is discussed in terms of how it appeals to men, combined with the tendency to talk endlessly about sex without discussing it in any meaningful, adult way.

    The Good Men Project is really problematic in how it deals with sexuality. It’s set up and presented as a way to discuss rape culture in an honest way that engages men. It ends up publishing articles on how what a friend did wasn’t rape because he’s a good guy, ranting about feminists who find their articles problematic, and perpetuating the idea that sexual predation is the fault of victims.

    This is a tough cultural bind. It is hard to challenge our own assumptions, and it is often horrible to have them pointed out. I’ve certainly had lots of awkward-to-totally-humiliating moments as it’s dawned on me that I was being sexist/misogynistic/racist/homophobic/an ass about class, and I expect to have many more. We live in a society that prizes being seen to be right above being open to learning. Yogis have a lot to offer in changing that.

    Sorry if that came over as clunky or boring or just too long.

  • arlet

    this article is amazing. women feel comfortable in yoga pants, men are happy to see women in yoga pants. sounds like a win-win! I do think that some people (just like in bikinis) don’t look the best in some yoga pants. but who cares?! wear what makes you feel good! i’m all for it! As long as you don’t rock yoga pants to a nice dinner or event.. rock on! http://extendyoga.com

  • Agreed. I thought that whole post was over the top. I wrote a post of my own in response: http://nomnomnamaste.tumblr.com/post/43801676748/leave-our-yoga-pants-alone

  • Dale

    I’m a 58 year old male Yoga teacher, and have recently started to wear “yoga pants”. I strength
    train and practice and teach Yoga in them. Living in the Chicago area, I find them to provide warmth and the compression seems to reduce DOMS. I am a workout freak, and can perform full Hanumansana. I really don’t care what people think when I wear them. They feel good, and they keep me warm. When I’m teaching or in a class or in the gym, out of respect I don’t ogle or “sexualize” the student. I find it more distracting when women wear low cut tops. When teaching, I’ve had to face in the opposite direction on my mat during Cobra so as not to make the student feel self conscience. If you feel good in the clothing, wear it! It’s “his” problem and “he” needs to reflect on his own thoughts and feelings. It’s a hard lesson to learn, “From brooding on sense objects, attachment to them arises. Out of attachment, personal desire is born. And from desire, anger appears”. The Living Gita by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Another thought, I really enjoyed the Super Bowl halftime with Beyonce. Beautiful, energetic and joyful in her performance. But what I was really impressed with is that there wasn’t one MALE in the entire group. Dancers, musicians, backup singers. She is an example of a woman who doesn’t need men. She chooses.

  • A.Presco

    I fully agree Dale.

    Thank you for sharing a male perspective and using the ‘The Living Gita’ as a resource to support the fact that all humans are in control of their senses/thoughts regardless of what someone is wearing.

    Namaste.

  • New daily successes are already extra. BAIDU http://www.google.com

  • Sam

    None of you have any clue what yoga is. You are simply doing gymnastic and should stop misusing the word yoga.

    Americans…

  • Honomann

    You speak true words Sam! A more accurate word would be “western” as I have seen many Aussies, Kiwis and Euros who are Lululemonized. It is a Canadian company mind you. I made a quick list to highlight distinctions:

    Western “yoga” Yoga
    Lululemon pants Yama, Niyama, Asana,Pranayama
    200RYT Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana,
    Killer playlist feat. XX Samadhi.
    Chair pose Utkatasna
    Sleep with your students Bhramacharya
    23 year old self proclaimed DJ/Yoga teacher Guru who has been practicing 50
    years and “still is a beginner.”

  • Honomann

    The spacing is a bit off on the above post, but you can figure out what is Western “yoga” and Yoga from the list.

  • Yogaga

    Oh god. Because its “real” yoga to tell everyone else they’re doing it wrong.

  • Honomann

    I never said anyone was doing it wrong. I am just pointing out that the trendy new studios have pretty much reduced the practice to a rave fashion show where the owners charge students $3000 a pop to get “certified.”

  • lunananda

    OMG i totally know that yoga master teacher DJ beginner dude, except he has been teaching 23 years and is 50+. LOL.

    Ladies, here’s a reality check: Men are turned on by seeing women in tight clothes. Add in a snug crotch on full display and OBVIOUSLY you’re asking for “that” kind of attention. Face the facts, ladies. Stop playing dumb and figure it out.

    Here’s a solution. Wear the yoga pants alone in class, and throw a cute skirt on top to go out and run your errands, etc, outside of class. Or not. But don’t complain about the effect you have on guys when you show a lot of skin, or major cling. Guys can be cool with it, but they are still going to “respond” if you catch my drift.

    Grow up already.

  • christopheray

    women have such beautyFULL legs men have beat up legs… we wear shorts …women wear long pants..is it yoga modesty ?…

  • Justin

    It’s ridiculous how women blame men for “oggling” them in yoga pants. If attractive men wore skin tight pants that were 3 microns thick, revealing the shape and length of their cock, women would be staring at that for days. That’s why we stare, we have no choice! When there’s an attractive woman wearing pants so tight and thin, you can see their labia… Well don’t blame us for staring. Yoga pants cater to women’s 2 basic needs: to feel good about yourself, and to get attention. But hey I’m a heterosexual male, I ain’t complaining! I just think its ridiculous for women to blame men for staring at their blatant cameltoe.

  • Matthew Richards

    I couldn’t agree more…if funny how its socially acceptable for women to stare at firefighters or construction workers, but god forbid a man looks at a woman who is showing off her body.

  • All this talk about pants. It’s all maya. Don’t be distracted. Just do your practice.

  • some dude

    hypersexualized website is not really hypersexualizing yoga pants. it’s exactly how it looks :)
    i like looking at some spiritual yoga teachers wearing yoga pants and talking about some spiritual matters, if they are hot. it’s entertaining in many ways.

  • A.Presco

    It’s sad how confused people are on this topic. Truly, this whole thing goes much deeper than yoga pants.

    People *cannot* control other’s thoughts [be they sexual, bad, good or otherwise] that other’s happen to think about them. It’s time we stop blaming the person who is being objectified and start pointing out that the journey of maturity is Not about letting your ego objectify others, but by teaching yourself how to react neutrally. Whether it’s a man objectifying a woman or vice versa, it’s NOT because of what one person is wearing, it’s because of what the objectifier >> chooses << to think. Letting sexual thoughts take over your mind is a choice.

    If I, as a female, think someone is attractively (or sexually) dressed… that is my PERCEPTION. I am the one with ultimate power over my thoughts, so it is absolutely wrong for me to tell the man/woman I think is sexually attractive to wear something "less sexual." ANYTHING can be sexualized. It's really up to me to find the maturity within myself to see them as a person.

    I'm not saying this is always easy… it's a process of learning how to look at other's with a non-objectifying mind. It really is something we must all learn to do.

    In countries where people are covered head-to-toe in clothing, people STILL find ways to make each other sexually attractive in their own minds. Perception, ladies and gentleman, is everything. So please don't go righteously pointing fingers at yoga pants as the culprit, because 3 fingers will be pointing straight back at You.

  • me

    nope, sorry. No amount of maturity or self control will work to undo primitive biological urges we still have and did not evolve out of. We still have our primitive urges same as from prehistoric times…no way to evolve out of them. Also you are not a man either. The biological urge is so much much stronger in men that you cannot and will not ever understand. Men cannot control it…its prehistoric nature is still present. You can try to guilt and shame others or yourself away from nature, but that just causes unnatural stresses that will come out in other ways (ie catholic guilt…priest scandals…health problems, aggression, etc). Nature made man to pursue and women to submit so we could be born. To have kids you must dance this dance too. No buddist or indian philosophy can cancel primitive natural urges. we have not evolved beyond them regardless of what you want to tell yourself. Why not admit that women wear them for show even subconsciously, and enjoy the attention of men as much as men enjoy looking. That is the natural true man/women dynamic from the beginning of life to present that still exists. Read the book “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality” while not without its flaws, studies the past so we can understand the present.

  • Matthew Richards

    Yoga pants rock…..seriously just wear them all the time. Men don’t look at women to be disrespectful. Its just that women are beautiful.

  • Kari

    So we’re clear, not talking about yoga here at all, but clothing. Kay? Kay.

    I work in massage therapy. It’s not always easy to find clothing comfortable and stretchy enough to perform the work. There are a lot of baby tees and yoga pants worn at my workplace, for obvious reasons. Nothing on the planet works better. But I have replaced my yoga pants with long, flowy skirts on any days I do not perform nuat phaen boran, and here is why:

    I do not care if I am looked at or perceived as sexy. Thank you, in fact. It is not my responsibility to control what flits through your mind. But there are many people who think it is their responsibility to say things to me that I wish they wouldn’t. I am muscular and curvy so the comments I hear have a lot of range. Some think I am fat, and will tell me so. Some think I’m sexy, and will tell me so. Often, both categories come with coarse language.

    Since I walk over two miles to work, the comments I have heard on the way leave me feeling so judged, and so on display, that I am in a pretty poor mood by the time I get there and must meditate to overcome it. This happens exponentially less when I wear any other kind of clothing, even overtly sexy attire. So I blame the current frenzy over said pants, which can die down any time now, thank you. Till it does, these things are staying indoors.

    Love it or hate it, I’m not trying to begin a dialog with my clothing.

  • yoga master

    what bothers me is a fat middle aged dude in a bicycle tights on a road bike. they need to lose that gut before becoming aerodynamic.
    yoga pants on ladies are ok. just don’t be so self conscious wearing it. it’s weird.

  • if you do not like to see a fit woman then like away/ I wear yoga pants to make myself feel good.

  • Honesty

    Let’s be honest…women are hardwired to want attention from men. When you wear yoga pants, people think you WANT attention…because they are a fetish item and you look like a whore in them…kind of the equivalent of a woman walking around bearing their tits for all to see. Watch this vid to educate yourself…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B_a5ZRrTvA

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