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Are yoga pants really 'bad for women'? New York Times op-ed sparks controversy

People have a lot of feelings about this.
by Lindsay Lowe / / Source: TODAY
Woman doing yoga
Would this woman be better off in a pair of old-fashioned sweatpants?Shutterstock

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Yoga pants are “bad for women,” according to a recent opinion piece in the New York Times — and people have a lot of strong feelings about it.

In an op-ed that has sparked a heated debate on social media, writer Honor Jones argued that women might be better off wearing sweatpants instead of tight yoga leggings.

“Seriously, you can’t go into a room of 15 fellow women contorting themselves into ridiculous positions at 7 in the morning without first donning skintight pants?” she wrote. “What is it about yoga in particular that seems to require this? Are practitioners really worried that a normal-width pant leg is going to throttle them mid-lotus pose?”

She argued that women only wear yoga pants to the gym because they're succumbing to an unhealthy pressure to look attractive while working out.

“We aren’t wearing these workout clothes because they’re cooler or more comfortable,” she wrote. “We’re wearing them because they’re sexy.”

Instead, Jones suggested, women would be better off wearing sweatpants.

“No one looks good in sweatpants. But that’s not the point,” she wrote. “They’re basically just towels with waistbands. They exist for two activities: lounging and exercising — two activities that you used to be able to do without looking like a model in a P90X infomercial.”

Unsurprisingly, the article kicked off plenty of debate online. Many people came to the defense of skintight yoga pants and fought back against the idea that women only wear them because they’re “sexy.”

Some people on Twitter also argued that loose-fitting sweatpants can be uncomfortable during yoga sessions and other workouts.

And others pointed out that women shouldn’t be policed for what they wear to the gym, whether it's yoga pants or anything else.

On the other hand, some readers agreed with Jones that sweatpants are the way to go.

“After a couple of hours it drives me insane to have that fabric clinging to me. It's claustrophobic, every movement performed through that stretchy film,” one New York Times reader wrote in the article’s comments section. “I really don't care what people think of my baggy pants.”

Another reader who identified herself as a yoga teacher wrote, "I say bring on the sweatpants revolution!”

For such simple, unassuming pieces of workout wear, yoga pants sure do attract a lot controversy. People have argued for years over whether it’s acceptable to wear yoga pants outside the gym, and judging by the heated reactions to this latest op-ed, the debate over yoga pants is far from over.

In the meantime, we say wear what you want ... and enjoy your workout!

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