There are few things more infuriating than telling a woman what she should and shouldn’t wear. Telling her she’s “bizarre” or “disturbing” for publicly wearing yoga pants—god’s gift to everyday lower extremity comfort—is literally opening the floodgates for hell’s fury. When 63-year-old Rhode Island man Alan Sorrentino sent in a letter to his local paper (who published it for whatever reason) making such criticizing statements—example: yoga pants are “the absolute worst thing ever to happen in women fashion” that “do nothing to compliment a woman over 20″—we imagine he had no idea the wrath he was inciting (or the casual sexism he was perpetuating).
“To all yoga pant wearers, I struggle with my own physicality as I age,” wrote Alan Sorrentino. “I don’t want to struggle with yours.”
But yoga pants fought back! Well, more accurately, women who wear yoga pants, and the sensical men who support them took it upon themselves to speak out and take stand, a very comfortable stand.
It all began when Sorrentino’s letter to the editor was published in Rhode Island’s Barrington Times last Wednesday. People read it, were naturally incensed, and responded with “Yoga Pants Parade” which drew hundreds of people (thousands virtually) who marched proudly in their stretchy pants carrying signs declaring “We wear what we want” and other body-positive statements. The parade route led right past Sorrentino’s house.
“I don’t get involved in much in the way of protests and marches and all of that, but this just brought me out because the guy’s letter was offensive,” Ellen Taylor, one of the parade-goers, told the Boston Globe, her shirt emblazoned with “MATURE OLDER WOMAN’ in yoga pants.”
The response may have been more than Sorrentino had bargained for, or expected at all—he maintains that the letter was written in jest—but women are at a breaking point when it comes to these such sexist remarks about their bodies or clothing and find nothing funny about it.
It’s about MORE than just yoga pants, and if you don’t get that, you’re missing the entire point. The tired cultural tradition of shaming and policing of women’s bodies is unacceptable, and it’s about time we say it. “Yoga Pants Parade” organizer Jamie Burke explained on the facebook event pagethat this was a “positive response to casual sexism.” Burke was clear that the event was not intended to be a “hateful protest” against the man (Alan) but a bigger message to the man (the patriarchy) that “misogyny and the history of men policing women’s bodies” is not OK.
Sorrentino, who in his letter suggested women wear a ‘‘nice pair of tailored slacks’’ or jeans instead, says he received death threats and described the peaceful pants protest response to his “free speech” as “bullying.” Which is funny, and a fine case of pot calling the yoga pants-wearing kettle black.
According to Burke, she had invited Sorrentino to join the the parade, to which he had “impolitely declined,” calling the invitation to don yoga pants and participate “humiliating.”
But after all of this, the guy still says it was a joke. Perhaps now he gets it—we don’t think it’s funny, Alan! Have you not already learned from others’ mistakes?
Here’s Sorrentino’s original letter that set off the backlash: