Lady Lessons: Dressing for the Masses

I keep reading blogs directed toward Christian woman telling them not to wear yoga pants in public because men will see them and lust after their… er… clearly defined hindquarters.

Personally, I don’t wear yoga pants in public because they’re yoga pants. I’m not doing yoga at the grocery store, so I’m not going to wear them there. If they made grocery pants, I would wear those, because it’s important to be dressed for the surroundings. I wear exercise duds to exercise, and since I don’t exercise in public, I choose wear public duds in public. 

I have noticed, however, that even though I’m NOT wearing yoga pants, I do occasionally get “checked out”.
In public.
By, you know, men.
I don’t understand! How could this happen? I WASN’T WEARING THE YOGA PANTS!!!! Nor was I wearing Lycra or spandex or a dress three sizes too small… the central portions of my body were not exposed… private bits were covered… and yet, there were still eyes!!!!!
Ladies… brace yourselves for a shock.
You’re going to get that.
Some men do that.
Some men will mentally have you stripped and standing in a Playboy pose in a matter of moments.
Here’s another shock for you: that is not your problem.

I’m not going to get into the whole “which articles of clothing are appropriate and which aren’t” debate, because that debate seems to revolve around how you can stop other people from lusting, and I don’t think that should be the focus. When you get dressed in the morning, I don’t think that your first, second, or 8 millionth thought should be, “I need to make sure that I don’t get checked out today. I must completely shroud myself from the filthy eyes of men!!!”
That’s completely unhealthy, for three reasons:
One, you are not responsible for where someone else’s eyes linger.
If you’re wearing a bikini, you can assume that people will be looking at you, but even a woman in a bikini cannot claim responsibility for a man lusting any more than a woman wearing a hazmat suit can claim responsibility for a man NOT lusting. If the eyes are not in your own face, you can’t claim responsibility for them.
Two, there are men the world over who are strong enough to not succumb even when a women is deliberately trying to get their attention. This is a learned skill, and men can, should, and have learned it. Can we stop talking about men as if they’re idiots and start acknowledging them as normal beings with the ability to become epic heroes? We don’t need to baby epic heroes by refusing to wear capri pants or fitted blouses.
Three, women have lived in that sort of bondage for quite long enough… everything that we do should not be for, because of, or out of fear of every man in our vicinity.
If woman is dressed inappropriately, it’s her responsibility and no one else’s. If a man looks and lingers where he should not, it is his responsibility and no one else’s.

I’m not sure why there’s a debate about this.

I don’t wear perfume for men… I wear perfume because I can smell it sometimes when my hair catches a breeze and smelling FANTASTIC makes me happy. Now, if a guy lets me know that he likes my perfume, I don’t have a problem with that (unless he’s creepily smelling my neck at the time), but I didn’t do it for him, did I? I don’t paint my nails for men… I paint my nails because I like to imagine what those nails would look like if I was holding a gun.
True story.
Also, I like the way painted nails look against steering wheels.
I know it’s weird, but do I judge you?
I don’t wear dresses for men… I wear dresses because trousers are a bother, and I like things that swish. I wear pencil skirts because I like unleashing my inner business mogul. I like heels, not because I like towering over person who complain incessantly (you have short genes… come to grips, already), but because I like the way my posture shifts, and I’ll be honest, I am a fan of my own ankles.
I don’t dress for other people, or for other people’s opinions, or to somehow prevent other people from sinning. I dress precisely the same way that I would dress if I were alone on a desert island.
There are only two people that I’m concerned with when I’m getting dressed: God and myself.
I don’t know, can I say that God is a people (I should say that God is a person, because grammar is important, but…)?
Being a Christian, I can’t cut God out of my sartorial choices, so dressing in a way that honors God is a primary concern. God is pretty good about offering opinions on what isn’t appropriate… and He also has a magnificent eye for accessories (and no, I’m not kidding).
I don’t deliberately set out to catch sexual attention because that does not honor God, but if a random person does not control himself and throws sexual attention my way, I’m not going to claim responsibility for it and resolve to never again wear anything that doesn’t cover me from stem to stern.

I think we should be talking with women about how to dress for our body types and why we really don’t need hot pants in our lives, and what to wear to weddings (when you aren’t the bride, of course) and job interviews and parties. Let’s talk about how we should dress with dignity… not whether or not we are dragging men, kicking and screaming, into sexual failure.
Because we aren’t. We can make things awkward for guys, sure (just for the record, guys can make it pretty awkward for us as well, but we don’t hear endless lectures on why young construction workers need to respect the female population and wear 100% more shirt and sweat less), but the ultimate blame lies with the individual, not with the person walking by.

Our clothes say things about us.
Since I’m a person who might not say much verbally, I really can’t afford to wear something that shouts, “I’m wearing this because I’m afraid that I’m so irresistibly tempting that you wouldn’t be able to control yourself if I were to wear a light sweater and reasonable shorts. All of my clothing choices are about you.” I want my clothes to say that I’m confident and comfortable and that I dabble lightly in vintage… that I love soft fabrics and large earrings and that I don’t need to broadcast my sexuality… that I’m responsible for myself, I carry myself with dignity, and I’m not going to hide because of someone else’s issues.

This is so much bigger than whether or not we should wear yoga pants in the open air…

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8 thoughts on “Lady Lessons: Dressing for the Masses

  1. It’s not just yoga pants, I saw lots of very snugly dressed behinds this morning, which kind of irritates me, because standards. I’m not a fan of clothing hugging any part of anyone’s body too tightly.

    And also, you should come to the range with us sometime and I’ll snap a pic of your nails for you.

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    1. O_O YES. NAILS AND GUNS.
      That’s part of my problem with pants… finding pants that fit but aren’t too tight in the wrong areas is like searching for the last unicorn. One of my projects this year will be making my own.

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      1. Like Kelsey mentioned, we just make sure our shirts are long enough to cover anything unsightly. Which isn’t to say that anything you wear would ever be unsightly, but I digress. I don’t want to see the outline of anyone’s heiny. Ever. And I saw lots of them this morning. In chapel. Which is kind of ridiculous.

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  2. I confess, I frequently wear yoga pants to work. But not the hindquarter defining type. Although, being shaped the way I am shaped, any type of pants that don’t hug my hindquarters would be the overly baggy granny-type of pants that shouldn’t be worn either. The hindquarter issue is simply solved by wearing a blouse or sweater that hangs low enough to cover it.

    However, I do not and will not wear pajama or sweat pants in public. One, because I respect my husband’s request that I do not and, two, because I have better fashion sense than an 19 year old college student (including when I was 19 yr. old college student).

    I fully believe in dressing for myself and not for others. The only other person I consider when dressing is my husband because I respect him. I also believe in dressing for comfort. I’m not going to wear high heels or any other type of shoes that hurt my feet just so I look good. I 100% believe that footwear should be comfortable and cause no pain. If it’s ugly, so be it, that’s what crafting is for.

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    1. I do love a good long tunic-style shirt… which is unfortunate, because I don’t have one.

      I am also a fan of married people communicating about what they do or don’t like on each other, or feel comfortable with the other party wearing.

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