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Yoga Pants: The Fashion Police Go Both Ways

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Yoga Pants: The Fashion Police Go Both Ways

The war on yoga pants

He thought the readers could use a break from the election craziness and so sent a lighthearted letter to his suburban paper tendering an opinion on yoga pants.

“Yoga pants can be adorable on children and young women who have the benefit of nature’s blessing of youth,” Alan Sorrentino wrote to the Barrington Times in Rhode Island. “However, on mature, adult women there is something bizarre and disturbing about the appearance they make in public.”

All hell broke loose. A protest parade was staged in front of Sorrentino’s house. The organizers wrote on Facebook: “This is a wonderful group of people celebrating our bodies and our right to cover them however we see fit. And while yoga pants seem to be a silly thing to fight for, they are representative of something much bigger — Misogyny and the history of men policing womens bodies.”

The story went international.

Sorrentino was deluged with nasty email. “They say ‘die’ and called me all kinds of vulgarities,” he told me. “The letter was just a point of view of a grumpy old man — although I think (yoga pants) look bad.”

The parade was advertised as “peaceful” and with “ZERO NEGATIVITY.” “Please do not come for a fight,” the official Facebook page said. “You will be shut down.” And the women who marched did so mostly in that spirit.

But the discussion does not end here. Some of the women said Sorrentino has no right to “judge” what women should wear. Actually, he does — just as the women have a right to judge his opinion. Still, marching in front of someone’s personal living space, however nonconfrontationally, takes on an air of intimidation.

I happen to know Alan and know him to be a gentleman. He throws civilized dinner parties to which he invites older widows, the sort of women accustomed to being excluded from couples-oriented guest lists. He contacted his neighbors to express concern that they might be disturbed by demonstrations in front of his house.

Sorrentino had couched his opinion with references to his own aging body. And to cover both genders, he asked how people would respond to men wearing Speedos at the supermarket, concluding with “Yuck.” Joan Rivers’ kinder red-carpet commentary was tougher than anything expressed in this letter.

I also happen to agree with Alan on the subject of yoga pants (and Speedos). He clearly meant tight yoga pants. Just Google “yoga pants” and check the crude images.

During a recent stroll on Madison Avenue, New York’s fancy shopping street, I spotted a woman in tight athletic pants. Even though she was quite fit, the stretched fabric revealed the cellulite on her rear end.

Anyhow, no one is telling women what they may or may not wear. They’re offering an opinion on what they think looks bad. I thought the recent Superman-Batman movie was insultingly dumb. That’s not the same as forbidding people to see it.

What we had here in the yoga pants fuss was a social media pileup designed to exact a price for tendering opinion some have declared off-limits. It’s one thing to mobilize against public figures used to the rough stuff. It’s another to go after an ordinary citizen speaking his or her mind.

Sisters, this ganging up on men who stray from certain feminist guidelines contributed to the rise of Donald Trump. Lighten up, will ya?

The term “fashion police” can go two ways. One tells people what fashions they shouldn’t wear. The other tells people what they shouldn’t say about fashion. Neither is good for the civic culture.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo: daveynin via Flickr

Froma Harrop

Froma Harrop’s nationally syndicated column appears in over 150 newspapers. Media Matters ranks her column 20th nationally in total readership and 14th in large newspaper concentration. Harrop has been a guest on PBS, MSNBC, Fox News and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a frequent voice on NPR and talk radio stations in every time zone as well.

A Loeb Award finalist for economic commentary in 2004 and again in 2011, Harrop was also a Scripps Howard Award finalist for commentary in 2010. She has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the New England Associated Press News Executives Association has given her five awards.

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  1. Toongrrl October 25, 2016

    Is she serious?

    1. JPHALL October 26, 2016


      1. Toongrrl October 26, 2016

        The writer of this article

        1. JPHALL October 26, 2016

          Of course she is. Why wouldn’t she be serious?

    2. The lucky one October 26, 2016

      Sure she is and I for one agree with her.There is a big difference between offering your opinion that what someone is wearing is not attractive and trying to prohibit them from wearing it. The women parading in front of his house need to get a life. There are far more pressing issues regarding gender than the attractiveness of yoga pants.

  2. bobnstuff October 26, 2016

    People should decide for themselves what they are comfortable wearing. That being said they should think about the image they are creating if they care. I find it interesting that people took the time to protest and wonder why they feel so threatened by one mans view. This may be a sign that things are going pretty well in our country if this is the worst thing people deal with.

  3. brickhorse October 26, 2016

    So what if someone wears tight yoga pants and the cellulite on her rear end can be seen. If you don’t like it, look at something else. I’m in my 60s, so my yoga pants have a nice big shirt hanging over my behind or a dress over my leggings. I still consider my legs toned enough to show them. But “I” am the person who decides whether I show anything of my body. Having said that, Mr. Alan Sorrentino has the right to free speech that will forever have his name attached to this silliness and that proves he is superannuated (a new word I learned today!), and thank goodness, I’m not!

  4. Jon October 26, 2016

    I can’t recall reading or hearing about any women protesting outside Trump Towers wearing face masks and chastity belts to protect themselves from unwanted kissing and groping after the Access Hollywood video was made public. Did I miss something?

    1. dpaano October 26, 2016

      Wow, what a great idea!!! If I lived anywhere near New York, I might take you up on that one!!!

  5. dpaano October 26, 2016

    I feel sorry for this guy……I kinda have to agree with him in a fashion. I certainly wouldn’t go outside MY house in yoga pants. I’m a 70-year-old woman with the proverbial “rear end spread.” It’s hard enough for me to look at myself in the mirror in a pair of yoga pants, but to inflict it on others……wouldn’t do it!!! LOL!!!


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