I have had an interesting response to last week’s “Yoga-Pants-Wearing Mom” post.
The post was featured on BlogHer, and it has received quite a few comments over there and on their Facebook page. Apparently lots of people have opinions about the matter of whether or not moms should wear yoga pants and/or what it says about us if we do.
Most of the comments in response the post weren’t bothersome or even surprising to me. There were people who mentioned their beliefs that people who wear yoga pants: look like “slob[s],” don’t “have respect” for themselves, or disappoint their husbands with their clothing choices.
Meh. I’ve read it all before, which is what prompted me to write the post in the first place.
The one thing that kind of bugged me though, was the comments suggesting that, by wearing yoga pants, I (and other moms who do this) am somehow not setting a good example for my children.
I have a hard time understanding that one.
I do lots of things to try to set a good example for my daughters. My choice of pants is not something that I see as a big example-setting opportunity.
So then, just what kind of example do I set when I wear yoga pants?
Maybe I’m letting my kids know that I’m not overly concerned with what others think of what I wear.
Maybe I’m telling them that I value being able to have fun with them more than I value wearing a certain type of clothing.
Maybe I’m showing them that I am confident in myself regardless of how I look.
Does wearing yoga pants send the message to them that I don’t value myself? That I think it’s okay to not take care of oneself?
My kids might get that message if I frequently criticized myself or made self-deprecating comments, and I happened to be wearing yoga pants while doing so.
It might send that message if I wore dirty yoga pants and also never showered or brushed my teeth or exercised.
But I don’t do those things. Crisis averted.
Perhaps my wearing yoga pants tells my girls that it’s more important to be active and embrace life than to dress up and then worry about getting dirty or rumpled.
Maybe it tells them that it’s okay to wear what makes them feel good instead of what everyone else says is “fashionable.”
Who knows? Honestly, at this point I doubt that my girls are taking any kind of “message” from my choice of pants.
However, I know that they do and will always get the message from me that, except for a few times in life when it is appropriate and prudent to be concerned about how your clothing is perceived by others (i.e. during a job interview), it’s okay to just be yourself. And it’s important to let others do the same.
My kids dress themselves every day. Aside from an occasional veto for seasonal inappropriateness or a stain, I let them choose what they wear, and I don’t interfere. I don’t care if they match. Except when we’re going to church or for certain special occasions, I don’t care if they’re dressed casually. I intentionally only buy them comfortable clothing, because I don’t want them to feel constrained by what they’re wearing either.
I want them to feel free to run and climb and get dirty and play.
But more than that, I don’t ever want them to get the message from me or anyone else that’s it’s cool to judge other people based on how they look or what they wear. I want them to get that it’s more important to be kind than to be wearing the latest fashion fad. That what they do is more important than what they wear, and likewise for those they encounter in life. I hope they will choose their friends and mates based primarily on how those people treat them and not on how popular those people are, what kind of car they drive, or if they wear the “right” clothes.
A random little boy helped Lass on the hay bale fort yesterday. She was so excited to tell me about this and how kind he was to her. She never once mentioned what he was wearing or what he looked like.
I like talking to them about how to be kind and helpful to others. About how good it feels when someone else treats them that way.
I don’t spend time talking to them about what others look like except when they occasionally ask, as of course young kids do.
And when they say, “Mom, why is that man so fat?” or “Why is her skin so brown?” my response is simply, “Because people come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s okay.”
So there you have it. What started out last week as a glib post about wearing yoga pants has morphed into a commentary on kindness and trying not to be so judgmental.
That said, I’ll add that I’m not a Pollyanna, and I know that it is human nature to judge. I’m certainly no saint when it comes to having judgmental thoughts about others. I try not to act on them, and I don’t discuss them with my kids.
They will have plenty of time to learn about the judgments people tend to make about each other. I’ll do my best to help them make good decisions for themselves and to treat others with respect and kindness, regardless of differences.
But for now, we’ll wear comfy clothes and just play.