US & Canada

Yoga pants letter to editor prompts Rhode Island parade

Woman in yoga pants at the parade Image copyright Selena Maranjian

What would you do if someone said you shouldn't wear something because of age or size?

When a man in the US wrote to his local newspaper criticising women over the age of 20 for wearing yoga pants in public, it did not go down well.

Rhode Island resident Alan Sorrentino wrote the letter to the editor to say why he thought women should stop wearing yoga pants outside a yoga studio.

In his letter he wrote: "Yoga pants can be adorable on children and young women who have the benefit of nature's blessing of youth.

"However, on mature, adult women there is something bizarre and disturbing about the appearance they make in public."

"Punch in the gut"

One woman who read the letter, Jamie Burke, felt so strongly about its contents she began to organise a parade calling for women to wear their yoga pants.

"When I saw this about yoga pants, it was like a punch in the gut," says Jamie. "I was so upset by the entire letter and the fact that it was even published."

"For years men have been policing our clothes choices and I thought it was important that women had their say."

Image copyright Kerri Lemoie

When Jamie posted the letter on her Facebook page, the response was immediate.

"Friends said we should do something like stage a protest or a parade. I'm originally from New Orleans, so a parade was a natural response for me.

"I wouldn't say I am a staunch feminist or activist but I just believe in women's rights."

Domestic violence

Jamie galvanised support from family and friends and started a social media campaign and planned the parade in her local area.

"I saw the letter on Wednesday and the parade was on Sunday but I didn't know what to expect. As each day went by the event grew and grew. I think around 400 people turned up. I was really pleased."

Jamie also took the opportunity to use the event to highlight the issue of domestic violence.

"It's domestic violence month in Rhode Island and we used the day to donate to Sojourner House, a local advocacy supporting women coming out of domestic violence situations."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPeople in Rhode Island at the #YogaPantsParade for a woman's right to wear what she wants. Video by Kyle J Silva.

Kyle Silva from nearby East Providence also attended the event after hearing about it on social media.

"A friend of mine from Barrington shared information about the parade on Facebook and it sounded intriguing.

"I live about 10 minutes from where it was happening so I thought I'd head down to check it out.

"I'm all for a woman's right, or anyone's right really to choose what they want to wear without feeling like they're being critiqued or policed on their personal preference.

"It was fun, peaceful, and somewhat silly, but it also highlighted an issue that many people have to deal with that shouldn't have to, so I was glad to be a part of it."

Image copyright Danielle Blasczak

Danielle Blasczak was at the parade after hearing about the story behind it from friends.

"I went along with my three-year-old daughter. I think there were 300 or 400 people there.

"The neighbours were happy about it and there were children handing out lemonade and water.

"We also donated goods like diapers [nappies], soap, etc to a domestic violence charity.

"At the end, a woman led a yoga session from a picnic table. Everyone was in good spirits."

Image copyright Danielle Blasczak

Jamie says she was surprised by the response she received.

"I talked to so many people at the parade and how they felt the power of community. I am still receiving messages of thanks. People have told me how the parade touched them on a personal level.

"It has had a ripple effect and I'm excited to see what happens next."

By Andree Massiah, UGC & Social News team

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