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.
We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.
The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").
To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.
These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.
However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.
This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.
The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.
As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.
SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.
Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.
Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!
Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.
SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.