There is a war raging across the country – and it has come right to our own backyard. A war that has people shaking their fist and shouting things like “civil rights,’’ “feminism,’’ “down with patriarchal oppression,’’ and “you’re not the boss of me.’’ A war that has split families and neighbors. A war that has forced people to re-examine their core beliefs. This is about America’s war on yoga pants.
Schools are banning yoga pants and leggings in record numbers. The emergence of tight, stretchy pants has sent school officials into a frenzy – adjusting and readjusting dress codes all the while bemoaning “kids these days.’’
Yoga pants and leggings have gone the way of NWA shirts, slap bracelets, and eight ball jackets: They’re contraband. (Check out Boston.com’s Definitive Guide to Tight Legwear here.)
Here’s a breakdown of tight pants controversies as reported by media outlets around the country.
Rockport High School (Rockport, Mass.): In February, the administration at Rockport High began strictly enforcing its dress code because they deemed yoga pants and leggings as “distracting’’ for male students. After this story grew legs, school officials decided to hold off on the stricter enforcement until a dress code review committee had time to take a closer look at the issue. Per the superintendent’s office, the committee has met, their recommendations are being reviewed, and any changes will be announced this spring. No word on whether Rockport High’s dress code will ban male science teachers from wearing short sleeve polyester dress shirts with ties. (More at The Gloucester Times)
Weymouth Public Schools (Weymouth, Mass.): The Weymouth School Committee is also in the midst of tackling the tight pants dilemma, echoing the claims made in Rockport – that yoga pants and leggings are “distracting’’ male students (I’m sensing a theme here). The hubbub began just prior to a March 27 school committee meeting. A few students decided to petition the committee to lift a ban on flip flops as part of their capstone project and instead of lifting the ban, the committee decided to review the entire dress code. After a social media firestorm, the committee decided to postpone any dress code changes until their April 10 meeting. Lesson to the kids out there: civic action sometimes backfires. (More from The Boston Globe)
Haven Middle School (Evanston, Ill.): Haven Middle School (yes, middle school) in also having a debate as to whether body-hugging clothing is too “distracting’’ for middle school boys. In March, students came home from school claiming there was a school-wide ban on yoga pants and leggings. But the school itself says there is no formal ban in place and that the current dress code is up for review. Over 500 students have signed a petition protesting the new dress code that has not even been released yet. Who says kids these days have no sense of social justice? (More from the Evanston Review)
Marlow Oklahoma School District (Stephens County, Okla.): In June 2013, the Marlow school board banned tights as pants (yes, this is the world we live in) but the issue didn’t make media waves until this February. Female students reported that male students were making offensive comments about their leggings and tights, so school officials called a meeting to discuss the issue. Per usual with anything involving teenagers, rumors spread like wildfire and before you could say “put some darn pants on’’ kids were telling parents leggings and skinny jeans were banned. School officials quickly cleared up the rumors, skinny jeans are fine, leggings are okay if you cover your stuff, but hair coloring might be outlawed (they kind of snuck that one in there). For the record, oh my God if you are letting your daughter wear tights as pants you should probably be arrested. (More from KSWO-TV)
Kenilworth Junior High (Petaluma Cali.): Anyone want to venture a guess as to why the school is prohibiting tight pants? And I’m using the term “pants’’ very loosely because leggings are not now, nor will they ever be pants. They’re too distracting to the boys! In April 2013, female students were told they were no longer allowed to wear leggings, yoga pants, or tight jeans. The school maintains male students are held to a dress code as well. After backlash from parents (and a fair share of media attention), the school amended the ban. Yoga pants and skinny jeans are okay, but wearing leggings as pants is not (probably because they aren’t real pants). (More from KTVU-TV)
Minnetonka High School (Minnetonka, Minnesota): Back in November 2012, Minnetonka High School principal David Adney didn’t outright ban yoga pants and leggings. He just wrote to parents requesting help with keeping female teenage bums covered up. He claimed that in the past, tight pants haven’t really been an issue because they were usually worn with either a long top or under dresses. But more and more, crazy kids are wearing them with t-shirts “exposing more leg and backside.’’ Although a few students and parents were miffed at the letter, Adney received support from parents and faculty at his own school as well as other Minnesota schools. Please parents: protect your daughters’ legs and backsides. (More from the Minneapolis StarTribune)
North Haven High School (North Haven Conn.): A rumor about a potential upcoming ban on yoga pants and leggings made it’s way through the school and social media in September 2013. and students were not having it. A group of students, including boys, took a page out of the civil disobedience handbook and “protested’’ by wearing yoga pants and leggings to school. A bunch of teenage boys didn’t want thin, skintight pants banned at their school? Weird. Principal Russell J. Dallai claimed there was no ban in the works and used the incident to open up a dialogue about appropriate attire. Pants stretched thin enough to see the birth canal are probably not in the appropriate category. (More from NBC Connecticut)
The war on painted on pants is about more than just simple cotton fabric. Dress codes and uniforms have been debated by school officials for years, but many argue that focusing on yoga pants and leggings specifically as a distraction to boys simply reinforces the “boys will be boys’’ mentality and paves the way for “she was asking for it’’ victim blaming. Although that’s a valid point, the real focus should be that yoga pants and leggings look lazy and sloppy and kids need to be taught to wear real clothes with buttons and zippers. Sure they may be comfy, but so is my bathrobe and Superman pajamas. But it’s not okay to wear them in public. The war should not be on yoga pants and leggings my friends: the war should be on the pajamafication of America.
Follow Heather on Twitter @HotelFoxtrot.