This morning I woke up and I had a choice: put on clothes that made me look like an adult going to work at a job that wasn’t inside of a gym, or to not. I chose “not.” Most days, I get out of bed, take off my nighttime stretch pants and then put on my daytime stretch pants (which look remarkably similar, actually — black, elastic waistband, no buttons …). Today, I even wore a sports bra instead of a real bra because:
1) Sports bras are more comfortable than real bras.
2) I might need to spontaneously work out (jk).
3) There’s always the possibility that a mean dog/man in a ski mask/loose bear/etc. will start chasing me and I’ll need the sports bra to keep my assets in place while I flee. (In a “fight or flight” situation, flight generally works best.)
Is it that I’ve given up? Maybe. I don’t know. I still put on makeup and shave my legs pretty frequently. Or is it just that we, as humans, love casual sportswear?
Workout clothes are convenient, stretchy and if you fall asleep unexpectedly, no big deal, because your clothes are comfortable like pajamas. And let’s say we’re looking at a human sartorial evolution chart: People went from no clothes to animal skins to corsets and bustles to freedom from zippers in a relatively short amount of time, cosmically speaking.
As we advance, our clothing gets more flexible.
Perhaps science fiction films have always been correct and the human race is destined to be an actively universal civilization clad in silver spandex, fighting angry aliens and withstanding the cold of space in things that look like Star Trek wetsuits.
Or, sure, maybe we’re becoming a super-sized nation of lazy couch lumps who hate restrictive waistbands. Remember in WALL-E how all the people lost their muscle tone because they just sat in those floating La-Z-Boy space chairs, drinking Big Gulps and watching personal TVs in onesies? Is the American sportswear uniform the ultimate expression of freedom or the harbinger of a dystopian future?
I was recently at the zoo, obviously in leggings, also obviously drinking a beer (the zoo serves its own Red River Hog Ale by Christian Moerlein, which you should try if you haven’t yet), watching people walk by, and we all looked pretty much the same: stretch pants, T-shirt, hoodie, comfortable footwear.
I don’t know where their pants came from, but it doesn’t matter. We all looked the same, we all had something in common. There was no obvious class distinction, political viewpoint or personal bias expressed — unless you count wanting the word “pink” on your ass a bias. But there we were, a throng of humans out in the world together, just hanging out, being comfortable, looking at monkeys.
In fact, yoga pants might be the great equalizer. They’re available at every price point and size from big-box retailers like Target to why-am-I-paying-$100-for-these lululemon boutiques. And no matter how much they cost, they all look basically identical — except maybe you pay more for lululemon’s gusset, which they claim is “engineered to give your lady business freedom to be.” My lady business feels fine in $10 spandex. And regardless of cost, the reality is that no one looks great in spandex and therefore we all look equally not-great together.
In 2011, Loveland High School outlawed yoga pants on the basis that they were too revealing. So, that week, a throng of 50 or so high school girls protested the ban and, in an act of solidarity, all showed up to school wearing yoga pants — and then promptly received in-school suspensions. Now, if there’s a group of humans out there meaner and more terrifying than a clique of high school girls, I don’t know what it is. And if you can get 50 of them, most likely from different social strata, to do something together at the same time without bullying or in-fighting, that’s amazing. And if they can unite over something as simple and universal as their variously price-pointed spandex pants, even better.
I’m not saying that yoga pants are the key to world peace. Just that maybe if more of us rebelled against the dictatorship of tailored fabrics more often, we’d all be a little more relaxed — like fabric Xanax. It’s hard to want to make the effort to start a war or launch a genocide movement if you could just as easily lay down for a nap.
CONTACT MAIJA ZUMMO: firstname.lastname@example.org
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