Yesterday, Montana seemed poised to become the first state in the nation to ban yoga pants because, apparently, Montana’s male elected leaders were having a hard time focusing with all these leggings-clad women meandering about, distracting them. At least, ostensibly.
The real bill, Montana H.R. 365, which is tabled in committee and will likely die there, was authored in response to a “nude bicycle ride” that got under the skin, pun intended, of David Moore, a Montana rep. The bill was patently unclear as to what it actually banned, but didn’t specifically target yoga pants or, for that matter, my cultural arch nemesis, leggings worn as pants. It just happened that David Moore, when asked whether the bill would, in fact, ban the wearing of yoga pants in public, decided to make a very controversial statement.
The actual story behind this seems to be as follows: One Montana state legislator had a bad experience with some nude bicyclists, and this inspired him to craft a law banning … something. It is not exactly clear what, which is why the measure, H.R. 365, is currently tabled in committee. Everyone has been reporting that it banned yoga pants, but the bill does not mention anything about that. That is just what its sponsor said he wished it could ban. Instead, the bill bans “any device, costume, or covering that gives the appearance of or simulates the genitals, pubic hair, anus region, or pubic hair region” a ban the legislator later told the Billings Gazette could include tight beige garments.
“Yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Moore, added.
Why he wound up with so much wrath against yoga pants instead of directing it against bicyclists remains unclear.
The law, which would probably be void for vagueness anyway, in it’s almost complete prohibition of personal expresison through clothing, would likely have banned beige leggings, if you were wearing them in such a way as to confuse unsuspecting onlookers as to whether you were, in fact, wearing pants. Black leggings are a different story. But no matter, everyone’s Lululemon bottoms collections are safe since Montana has no intention of picking up this bill anyway.
It does, however, beg the question: should leggings, which are not pants but are frequently worn as if they are, be banned? The articles of clothing themselves are intensely controversial, both for reasons of modesty and reasons of common sense. A “Christian blogger” recently set off a firestorm across the Internet for putting an end to her habit of wearing yoga pants around her husband, a decision which probably puzzled her husband (come on…he’s your husband, he can see you in yoga pants), but was enthusiastically embraced by a general population weary of seeing womens underthings through their “pants.” According to the Atlantic, which couldn’t find many examples of the GOP waging a war on yoga pants, there is tension between some conservatives and the practice of yoga, partly because the practice of yoga is affiliated with Eastern mysticism and partly because there are no practicing yoga teachers anywhere in the world who would readily admit to being part of the GOP’s target voter demographic. Frankly, as a libertarian myself, I can see reasons as to why leggings should be banned when they are worn as pants, not because I have any concern for any other human being’s self-respect, but because leggings are not, in fact, pants of any kind.
I, however, think that we should, of course, opt for the cultural “coercive” approach where non-pants pants-wearing is concerned. If you see someone in public mistakenly wearing leggings as pants, it is a service to explain to them that they are not, in fact, wearing pants. You can even refer to this handy chart, seemingly native to the Internet as a whole but published most recently by Buzzfeed, in providing educational services to people in need of pants-related education.
If your bottoms fail any one of these simple yet comprehensive tests, you are not, in fact, wearing pants and should cease such non-pants-wearing immediately.
If nothing else, you’ll make David Moore happy.