A (New) Theology of Yoga Pants

I am convinced that God created yoga pants.

Because really, there’s nothing better than coming home after a hard day at the office, or even an hour or two at church or some other taxing social function, and slipping into a soft, comfortable pair of yoga pants. When I get home, changing into yoga pants or pajamas is the first thing I do, because I can only be dressed up for so long. And by dressed up, I mean wearing anything other than yoga pants or pajamas.

So yes, I’m pretty sure yoga pants are part of God’s grand design, and had they been available for Eve in the garden, she surely would have chosen them over a fig leaf to hide her nakedness.

Turns out, though, yoga pants are getting a bad rap among some evangelicals these days, because apparently they drive men toward lustful thinking. Even more, yoga pants advertise you as “For Sale: Cheap.” At least according to a “Theology of Yoga Pants” now making the rounds in social networking.

Written on the site “The Dad Life,” this particular theology runs through the tired arguments about what women wear, the “different wiring” men have that makes them uncontrollable sex fiends, and the responsibility of women to guard the hearts of men who will look at their yoga-pants-covered butts and think immediately about sex.

Why yoga pants per se get the theological treatment in this essay isn’t entirely clear. The writer describes yoga pants (tight and black, because “black is slimming you know”), and admits that under a tunic or long shirt, yoga pants are great. But, if a woman reveals an “uncovered rear,” she is “pleading with every man in eye shot to check out [her] backside.”

He then explains “what women cannot understand,” which is that every man is looking at her butt when she wears yoga pants. Not just every man, but every Christian man. And older men, too. (“Think grandpa . . . eww” the article tells us.)

Yoga pants are thus to be worn only for one’s husband, in the privacy of one’s home, else you are inviting lustful thoughts, even from guys well past their prime. You don’t want that, do you? Single people, by the way, appear to be out of luck: you got no husband? No yoga pants for you.

Like every other apology for modesty culture, the Theology of Yoga Pants makes women into temptresses, their every act—even wearing comfortable pants—an occasion to cause others to sin. As problematic, this ideology makes men into sex-crazed beasts, always giving into their “basest desires,” as if they cannot help but lust when they see women wearing black exercise pants.

But this particular writer takes the modesty argument one step further, suggesting that older women who wear yoga pants are especially egregious in doing so. In his mind, women have only about 40 years of potential “stunning physical attraction.” (Making me wonder, of course, if my 40 years are yet to come.) A woman who has worn yoga pants, calling attention to her physical form, is setting herself up for failure, because our bodies will become pudgy, our skin will grow wrinkled, the butts we were inclined to show will someday sink to our calves. We’re screwed, essentially, and if we’ve had men only looking at our bodies, when we’re old, they will not be able to see the beautiful souls that might exist beneath muscles and sinew and black lycra.

To which I say what the heck? And, to be honest, a few things I can’t really utter on a public blog.

Because here’s the thing: I’ve been working out at a gym for almost a year now, and I’ve noticed that almost all of the women there wear those insidious black yoga pants or tights (which I imagine are the satanic counterparts to yoga pants). Many of the women at the gym are around my age, which means—I suppose—that our bodies are wearing out, our “perfect curves are beginning to sag,” our worth is fading, leaving us with presumably empty vessels no one will appreciate. According to the “yoga pants theology” writer, we should be hiding our bodies in shame, hoping that people will then be able to see the beautiful souls residing beneath.

This assertion is especially puzzling to me, because when I see these women working out, I don’t see sagging bodies or that which is “quickly fading away.” I see something else entirely: women celebrating the amazing bodies they’ve been given. I see people created in God’s very image, undeserving of any condemnation heaped on them for making the choice to be comfortable when they exercise.

Now, maybe I see women in yoga pants this way because, according to the writer, I am simply “wired differently” and because, as a woman, I “DO NOT THINK like a man” (emphasis his).

Or maybe, just maybe, I understand women in yoga pants differently because I happen to believe women are also created in God’s image, and because of this, we should celebrate our bodies in all their beautifully perfect imperfections—rather than covering them up because they might seem a temptation to every walking man on this earth.

But that’s just me.

I certainly believe God knows yoga pants are comfortable; but God also knows that bodies created in God’s image are holy and deserving of praise.

(As an aside, I do not believe God created those very expensive yoga pants made by a deplorable company whose shoddy products were in the news a lot last year. God has better fiscal sense than that.)