An article about the morality of yoga pants and the clashing of genders


Along with the discussion of homosexuality in the Church comes another gripping discussion within Christian evangelical circles: modesty of women’s clothing, specifically with yoga pants.

Yoga pants have been a hot topic for many months now, with articles surfacing on every social media platform possible. The debate is growing in the form of likes, dislikes, favorites, hateful comments, and rebuttal articles. Specifically, the conversation becomes heated when men and women share their differing opinions in Christian evangelical circles, especially at Gordon College. Men are frustrated because women don’t comprehend how hard it is to remain mentally pure and women cannot understand why everyone is making such a big fuss.

Above: Yoga pants from Victoria’s Secret

This has also been the ongoing conversation within Tavilla 314. It’s not uncommon to walk in and see the group of girls huddled around a coffee-splattered kitchen table talking about the morality surrounding tight clothing. With coffee cup in hand and fist on the table, a friendly conversation becomes a tangled mess with questions like, ‘Are yoga pants too revealing? Do men really objectify women? Why should men be able to tell us what and what not to wear?’

Due to the animosity of the debate, a survey was created to find out what people really think. The survey was given out to 20 people in total (10 male and 10 female) on Gordon College’s campus. The survey consisted of eight questions about modesty and women’s rights in order to highlight the clashing tension of the genders. Individuals had the option to stay anonymous if they wished.

Who knew that relations between men and women on Gordon College’s campus could be mired by the topic of yoga pants? But the fact is, no matter the gender, people seem to be very opinionated about this tight nylon/polyester blend. “What even classifies yoga pants?” Lauren Chudnovsky (’15) exclaimed during an apartment discussion on the ethics of yoga pants. This seemingly innocent question seems to be one of the first discrepancies. What exactly are yoga pants?

Dark Blue: Athletic pants w/ flare, Red: w/o flare, Green: Leggings, Purple: Tights, Light Blue: Jeggings, Orange: Any

In the survey, the common ground on what yoga pants actually were spread almost as thin as the pants themselves. Participants were given the choice of six options they could choose from, with directions to circle all that apply. Answers were all across the board with 50% for long athletic pants that have a flare, 50% for leggings, 50% for long athletic pants that are skinny around the ankles, 45% for non-see though tights, 15% for jeggings (jean leggings) and 10% for any tight pants.

The real disagreement in opinion seemed to occur between the genders. 90% of women thought that yoga pants were long athletic pants that have a flare (nylon/polyester bend), but only one man who completed the survey agreed. On the other side of the same coin, 80% of men seemed to think that yoga pants were either long athletic pants that are skinny around the ankles or non-see through tights.

With this diversity of answers, it might be best to look at a definition of yoga pants: “Yoga pants are a type of flexible, form-fitting pants…yoga pants must not be confused with leggings, however. Although commonly made from the same material, leggings are typically used for going out and more formal attire…”

When asked, most people said that setting should be a huge factor, but the actual setting seems to be a big question mark. “I think yoga pants should be more for private comfort, not for public, class, or work,” says Madeline Penson (’15). But other women say that it doesn’t really matter. “I think it is okay to wear them anywhere but at work or formal occasions,” says Sam Matthews (’15).

Even with the differing opinions, most people say that one shouldn’t wear yoga pants in a professional setting (90%). “Even if you are in a place where men aren’t going to objectify you, such as a 3rd grade classroom, you should think about what kind of impression you want to make,” says Hannah Logan (’15).

Yoga pants has also become a discussion within the Gordon College faculty and staff. Greg Carmer seems to think that yoga pants can be distracting for male students on campus. “Out of that context, I find yoga pants immodest, revealing, and show every curve and fold of intimate anatomy. Attractive apparel covers as much as it reveals and leaves something for the imagination,” says Carmer.

Even with this great advice, this topic might not be as cut and dry as many people make it out to be; yoga pants might seem like a trivial topic to the common person, but students seem to be so passionate about this because it is becomes a discussion of gender differences, women’s rights, and the power of sexuality.

Do men and women really think differently? 100% of men said there is an inherent difference. “I don’t think women really understand what they wear can change the way men look at them,” says Nate Burgoyne (’15). Nevertheless, only 80% of women agree that men sexually think differently than them.

Even still, women seem to be frustrated by being told to toss their form-fitting pants back into their closet with the label “what not to wear”. “Men should keep their eyes to themselves,” says an anonymous female student (’15), clearly annoyed by this topic that no one seems to put to rest. “I don’t think that men can tell women that they shouldn’t wear yoga pants,” says Chudnovsky. “It’s our choice.”

Lauren Barthold, one of Gordon College’s gender studies professors, also encourages people to think further about putting regulations on women’s dress. “Throughout the history of the west, fashion/dress codes for women have been based on the assumption that women’s bodies should be beautiful objects for men and are dangerous and unruly, serving to lead men astray. I am very hesitant to affirm any dress code that implicitly or explicitly endorses either of these views,” says Barthold.

There is definitely an inherent feeling among women that their rights are being stifled and men are holding women to a standard that they themselves don’t adhere to when they don’t wear shirts. “It’s not fair to hold one gender to a higher standard. Both men and women should strive to dress in a modest way,” says Sarah Shannon (’15).

So what do men and women think about morality when it comes to yoga pants. When asked the question, “Do you think it is morally ‘okay’ for women to wear yoga pants?” 100% of women said that it is ethically permissible, but not all men agreed.

“Women should not wear yoga pants in public unless they are covered up in an appropriate way,” states a male student. Most men agree that the only places women should wear yoga pants should be the gym and their own apartment.

So why all this frustration? Women seem to be exasperated because they want to wear what they want, but men are upset …why? “Women always say they wear yoga pants for comfort,” says an anonymous male student (’15), “but sometimes I just think women wear yoga pants to attract men.”

Power in sexuality has always been noted throughout history in literature, music, and culture. According to the survey, 60% of the men believe that women wear yoga pants “to attract men” and “to boost confidence,” however, only 30% of women agree. On the other hand, all women said they just wear yoga pants because they are comfortable and are “in style”.

Nevertheless, most of the women agreed there is power in sexuality. “Some women definitely use their looks to get attention from men so they can get them to do whatever,” says an anonymous female student (’16).

At this point it may seem like a war of genders. Men think women are being too promiscuous and women think they are being oppressed. So where does that leave us? “This just makes me think we should all just wear dresses,” Chudnovsky sarcastically remarks. We could take to the Amish life, we could just wear what we want, or maybe we could think before we dress.

“Where am I going and what impression am I making?” Logan asks herself every morning before getting dressed. Maybe we need to ask ourselves the same thing every morning. “I wouldn’t want anything I do to inhibit the growth of another,” says Mei Wu (’15). “I would be willing to give up wearing something if it meant helping another person.”

Maybe the question is not whether yoga pants are morally okay to wear or not, but how can I honor others by how I dress?

Like what you read? Give Shannon Petersen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.