What do abortion, marriage equality, and yoga pants all have in common? Everyone’s got an opinion on each of them, and each have made national news this year. Beloved by young women of the Ugg boot-wearing ilk and despised by those who have higher standards for what qualifies as “pants”, these stretchy bottoms were everything in 2011. Schools, malls…and the front page of hometown papers and mass media outlets alike, as they were widely embraced and vocally denounced, dividing communities and sparking conversations. Yoga pants were truly 2011′s most talked-about article of clothing.
Yoga pants, which are sort of interchangeable, at this point, with leggings (though, technically speaking, yoga pants are a little more modest and look less like you forgot to put a skirt on over your tights before you left the house) have become so ubiquitous this year, it’s impossible to swing a gym bag without hitting a woman who’s clearly got no intention of going to yoga. There’s even a website dedicated to snapping objectifying candid photos of them in the wild, so you know they’re a big deal.
Sometimes (mercifully) pared them with a baggy sweater and a pair of boots, the often-black (but sometimes seen in less-flattering shades of grey), these trousers have caused quite a stir on campuses across America–not because they’ve been condemned by many in the fashion world (though they have been, because they’re seen as lazy and also as poor substitutes for actual pants), but because of their skin-tight, rear-end-accentuating fit.
Junior highs, high schools, and even college campuses have battled over bans of the crotch-cradling apparel, much to the chagrine of students who wish to remain free to choose their level of comfort in with Spandex and visible panty lines. A hot topic at school papers and city rags, bans on yoga pants went from being a small-town problem to an above-the-fold story as administrators began putting their feet down over the immodest garments, which allow young hussies to show off their goods, and young horn-dogs to ogle their classmates. It was like shiny patent-leather shoes and pedal-pushers all over again…and just like with everything that gets polarized or banned, from coast to coast, young women snapped up $98 pairs of lululemon pants to jump on the trend.
This controversy didn’t slip by actual yoga practitioners, either. Several different yoga-focused organizations took up the cause, fighting both for the freedom of young people, and their own ability to wear whatever they want without stigma on their way to and from class. Multiple fitness gurus and yoga fans–some of whom would never be caught dead in yoga pants, themselves–came to the defense of those who choose to wear the satrorially-questionable stretch pants, despite the fact that some traditional yogis actually believe that revealing apparel (like skin-tight leggings) is actually kind of a no-no on the mat–because the reaction to the garment itself seemed so over-the-top.
What will be next year’s co-opted piece of fitness apparel? Ultra-short running shorts? Tennis skirts? Sports bras worn solo? Regardless of what the young people pick up on next, if it’s even remotely revealing or controversial, you can be sure it’ll make fashion bloggers cringe, lifestyle journalists giddy, and manufacturers rich.
Image: Kim Kardashian in a particularly unflattering pair of yoga pants, courtesy of Chismetime.com