What's wrong with yoga pants?

A school in Massachusetts bans girls from wearing yoga pants, while Lululemon still stings from the effects of fat-shaming women. Can we find balance around pants that are supposed to work for balance poses?

Ann Hermes/Staff/FILE
Shoppers exit a Lululemon store in New York on December 18, 2013.

Administrators at a high school in Rockport, Mass., who have enforced a ban on yoga pants and leggings are yet another reason why Americans need to get over the tendency to objectify the wearer rather than celebrate the body, mind, and spiritual benefits of comfortable attire.

It's possible the administrators and faculty at Rockport High School may have needed to meditate on this decision around girls wearing yoga pants a little longer, especially as teen girls at the school report feeling objectified in the decision as they were blamed for distracting their male classmates.

This harkens back to recent coverage of Lululemon creating shoddy ultra-sheer yoga pants and then blaming it on women by saying some were just too chubby to wear them. 

How does something as soothing as comfortable pants designed for the practice of meditation and fitness become such a regular hot button issue?

In the case of Rockport High, it seems the principal reacted under pressure from faculty, who “expressed concern that students were not following the dress code,” according to Yahoo

The principal decided to re-enforce an already existing dress code banning yoga pants and leggings on girls, according to the report.

Instead of shifting the focus from yoga pants to academics, the action taken by the school zeroed in on the girls and their fashion choices. It seems that rather than addressing disciplinary problems, more girls felt blamed for wearing “distracting” clothing in class than being reminded of the standing dress code.

The onus of making boys pay attention in class and be good students has apparently shifted to the female population, who should perhaps dress in potato sacks in order to solve the issue of teenage hormones.

"It's called attention to something that no one even thought about," said Rockport senior Aidan Wright, according to Yahoo. "I don't appreciate having to be responsible for a boy paying attention or even being told that it's my responsibility to not distract someone with my body. I don't like being objectified in that way."

On Friday, 20 female students who protested the decision by wearing the pants were punished with written warnings and sent home to change their clothes.

Concern over boys being unable to concentrate in class ultimately resulted in girls being yanked from the learning environment, missing school work and learning time. Well, they did learn something when they were sent home. They learned that even adults get easily tied up in knots about superficial issues such as clothes, and that they can succumb to peer pressure (in this case faculty pressuring the principal).

In yoga, there is a practice of bowing to others and saying, “Namaste.” Nama means "bow," as means "I", and te means "you." Therefore, "namaste" roughly translates to, "I bow to you."

It is a way to take a moment to acknowledge that no matter how we appear on the outside, we should focus the deeper qualities beyond our outfits.

Dress codes are hopefully built with the interest of all students in mind, supporting their abilities to make mature decisions, such as appearance. When enforced, that same thoughtfulness should apply, helping students understand why the rules are what they are, versus blaming a population of students. 

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