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Keep Your Opinions Off My Yoga Pants And Your Judgments Off Of My Body

Culture

No. No. No. No. After reading it, it's has taken me a couple days to respond to the piece about the horrors of yoga pants that the NYT had the err in judgment of publishing. I didn't know what to say or how I wanted to say it. I just knew I was upset. Really, really upset.


Then I realized that what I had to say was really quite simple. No, Ms. Jones. Absolutely not. Wearing sweatpants is not the answer. And yoga pants are not the problem. You, my friend, are the problem.

You say it yourself, “It's not good manners for women to tell other women how to dress." And yet, here you are. The thing is. I know why you are saying it. And that, perhaps, is what has kept me from being able to write. You don't feel like you look hot in yoga pants. Don't bother to protest. I get it. You're right, lots of women look really hot in yoga pants and it's a tough act to follow.

But you know what? That's ok. You don't have to wear them. Ever. Seriously. But that doesn't mean for a second that I should give them up. I happen to look pretty damn good in yoga pants. I look pretty damn good in sweatpants for that matter. Or at least I think I look good. And that's the point - that is all that matters. Great looking exercise gear that makes me feel like I look, well, great and that makes me feel confident about my body and it makes me want to take care of it by exercising.

Honestly, I feel sad if looking grubby in your “towels with waistbands" as you refer to them is what you actually, authentically, truly want for yourself. But if that's how you feel and that is how you WANT to feel, well, then have at it. Far be it from me to keep you from what you feel is your appointed attire.

Here's the thing, my dad told me many, many years ago that if someone takes issue about something about me that in no way affects them, then they aren't really taking issue with me. The issue they have is with themselves. When I was 12 he would say, “They're just jealous." When I was an adult he would say, “They don't feel good about themselves. They don't feel like they can wear or do what you're wearing or doing. So they see belittling you as their only option."

If you were really talking about sweatpants, Ms. Jones, you wouldn't have spent so very many precious words on putting me and my fellow yoga pants wearing women down. You would not have wasted so many words on how silly and expensive they are. The lady doth protest too much for sure.

If you can't afford Lululemon, I'm not judging you. Don't buy it. If you don't look hot or feel confident in yoga pants, I'm not judging you. Don't wear them. But keep your opinions off my yoga pants and your judgments off of my body.

And let me be very clear here - No one has the right to lay a hand on me or to catcall me or to look at me in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable or threatened. But do I want to feel that I am attractive? Uh, yeah. And so do you Ms. Jones.

What you are really asking for here is for other women not to be so damn hot. “It's not fair," I imagine you saying as you stomp your foot and pound your fist on the air. You know what? It's not fair. There are all kinds of hot women out there being hot. And it doesn't matter if you don't feel like you are as hot as they are. If you feel like you can't compete. You, Ms. Jones, are hot shaming them and age shaming me. I am 47 years old and I have earned the right to wear whatever the heck I want.

Even the drawing that was run with your piece ultimately makes fun of you, I'm afraid. All of the women in class are focused on their downward dog. Except for you. You're too worried about your lumpy sweatpants. The thing is, yoga pants make me worry less about how I look when I work out. I don't have to worry that a drawstring will come undone or an elastic waist will drop or that there might be a clear view to heaven up through the wide legs of my sweats.

Sweatpants are for hanging around the house. Sweatpants are for cozy nights on the couch with my kid. Sweatpants are for wearing over my yoga shorts on the way to yoga when it's cold outside. Sweatpants are not for public consumption as far as I'm concerned. But I would never considering wasting public space, especially that hosted by the beloved and usually insightful and intelligent New York Times to tell other women not to wear them.

Let me give you a little piece of advice, Ms. Jones. Do not EVER tell other women what to wear. Ever. Whenever you speak or write, it is imperative that you are aware of what you are saying about yourself and about women at large when you make such sweeping demands. You have revealed your insecurities and you have infantilized women. We're not babies. We don't need you telling us what to wear. We get enough of that already from all around. From every angle. Every day. From every magazine and man. Et tu, Ms. Jones?

Yoga pants make me feel good. They lift me and tuck me in all the right places. They make me feel great when I look in the mirror at barre class. Of course I care how I look. So do you. Believe me, more than I do, in fact. Wearing yoga pants means I don't have to waste a lot of energy worrying about how I look because I know I look good.

You, instead, are wasting a lot of time begging other women to not make you have to look good. Thing is, we don't care. We truly do not care. You go girl. You wear your sweatpants loud and proud. But do it for yourself. By yourself. And don't act like it's some political statement. The only statement your making with this piece is that you want the bar lowered so you don't have to reach so high. I am here to tell you, the bar is arbitrary and ever-changing, so let it go. And keep your hands off my Lululemon.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.