Ladies, I See Your Butts

A Yoga Pants Parade

Yoga pants are comfortable. It’s true; I know from personal experience. Still, I was a holdout for a long time. Then I slowly started wearing them. First for a quick run to the grocery store with a long shirt covering most of my backside and front. A little later, I wore them to the mall, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and maybe for a quick coffee shop stop. I wore jackets usually, the kind that go to the top of your thigh. When it came to the actual yoga pants, buy large was my policy. For example, if I needed an extra small, I’d just go ahead and get the small (Insert wink emoji here. Let’s not talk size. Talking size is just tacky.)

This weekend my husband and I went for a beer to celebrate the Halloween weekend. Halloween is my absolute favorite and it’s the only time of year I bake. Savory is my usually weakness, but cinnamon, clove and pumpkin rolls, loaves, cakes, are an exception. 

Well, my pants don’t fit. 

This weekend I went to a brewery which serves food in a nice venue – OK, let’s call a spade a spade – it’s a bar/restaurant – and I wore a nice shirt and yoga pants. I gasp as I write this. There’s a possibility that I’m showing my age – in two ways: 1 – my attitude, 2 – my butt. 

To understand my perspective on yoga pants you have to go waaay back in time to 1982-ish. I’m from a small-ish southern city and I’ve just moved to Charlotte for college. Other girls run around campus wearing t-shirts that say things like, “Frankie Says Relax,” a famous line from the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s song, “Relax.” There were Star Wars t-shirts, sorority t-shirts. Even more shocking than the slogans and graphics, they wore them untucked.

I had a few t-shirts that I loved when I was a kid, but I sure didn’t wear them to school. In particular, I remember my “Virginia Is for Lovers” t-shirt and my beloved mustard yellow and cream t-shirt that just had a big “19” on it. The color combination was what I loved so much. It was a jersey, had mustard yellow sleeves, a cream body and the numerals were navy blue trimmed in white. But I did NOT wear it to school. That would have been crazy. And untucked? Not happening. For school I had shirts and blouses, which I standardly wore tucked into blue jeans. I also wore a belt with my jeans and nice shoes. No sneakers, tennis shoes, athletic wear allowed. 

And then there were our jeans. 

I wouldn’t know how to describe the jeans we wore to a young person today. They could almost stand up on their own. I mean these things were hard and thick. They didn’t mold to your shape, they changed it. You could decide what you wanted to look like and stuff yourself into these things and they’d alter you into that image. Now, it might take 15, 20 minutes to get in them and several friends to get you back out, but that’s just what you did back then. It goes without saying that they were painful. We literally had discussions about whether they might be moving our internal organs. 

When we didn’t wear the tight ones, the big, stiff jean material was so far away from your body that no one could take even a guess at your shape. You could see a person’s size, but not their shape. 

When bathing suit season came around it was truly a big reveal. People (men) sat slack jawed on beaches and beside swimming pools taking in all the different shapes and sizes, because they’d never seen them. They had no idea whether the women they saw everyday had round butts or flat butts or wide butts. You couldn’t tell if someone was bowlegged, knock kneed, jiggly, had cellulite or incredibly scrawny thighs. You just had to wait until summer. 

Last Saturday the brewery was crowded. All kinds of people were there. There were groups of singles, families, little kids, puppies. Some people had on Halloween costumes. I saw a lot of guys in jeans – baggy jeans, torn jeans, and t-shirts. 

But the females had on yoga pants. Almost exclusively the women had on yoga pants. I used to recognize people by their faces. I thought of people that I knew as “the one with glasses,” the one with the high forehead,” “the round-faced happy grinner.” But now…

The butt is unique. Bodies are unique. They are as individual as faces. The way people’s legs attach to their bodies, the shape of their stomachs, their hip bones, knees, legs, ankles. 

I can recognize people by their bodies and butts now. You can see someone walking away and later say with certainty, “Hey, I saw you yesterday!” 

For now, yoga pants are almost exclusively black and I’m grateful for that. I do see the occasional lighter color and it’s just too much for me right now. I’ve been slow taking to this honesty, so I hope that’s a way off. 

Here’s the thing: I think it may sound like I’m being critical, but if I am, it’s only of myself. As for yoga pants? I’m all in. They reveal so much more than shapes and they mean so much more than comfortable clothing. 

Thirty years ago, our clothes were designed to disguise. We bought clothes that altered our shapes and changed our looks so that we were closer to the “correct” look, the acceptable shape. And there was only one. Thin, was of course, part of the correct look, but perfectly proportioned was a requirement too. Yoga pants changed all that. Not only are we not all shaped alike, there’s a shocking smorgasbord of human shapes out there. And our yoga pants proclaim that it’s ok – more than ok because it’s the truth. We women come in all shapes and sizes. 

I guess I could ask: Which came first the confidence or the yoga pants? I’m not sure I know the answer. But I think the more we wear them the more empowering they become. Yoga pants say we aren’t worrying about how we look. I see women of all shapes and sizes rushing around town, sporting their yoga pants, heads in the air. Those pants seem to just shout “watch what I do, not how I look.” Or better yet, “Get out of my way!” Women have always had to do a week’s work every day. The clothing used to be enough to make for a long, hard day – even if you just sat in them. One Monday morning squirming in high heels and support hose was enough to send any woman home exhausted. We wore that stuff and we worked. Hard.

Yoga pants are part of women’s evolution toward equality. We won’t wear those uncomfortable, constraining disguises anymore. We won’t dress to please anyone except ourselves. We’ve taken our focus off appearances, and we’ve embraced our variety and diversity. I see the confidence on empowered women’s faces (Yes, you can still tell a lot by a face), and we like the way we look. 

Go ahead and look at our butts – in some cases, our big, beautiful butts. You won’t catch us glancing back to see if you liked what you saw. We’re in our yoga pants. We’re on the move, phone in one hand, coffee (hopefully) in the other, bigger name on the other line. 

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