Yoga Pants and the Culture of Life

“When did we decide to be the kind of society that mocks virtue?” popular blogger Matt Walsh asked in a recent post about modesty. I’m not exactly sure, but it was probably about the time we stopped teaching virtue to our youth and started ceding the cultural battlespace a radical vocal minority.

All month long as pro-lifers prepared for the March for Life, heated discussions were taking place on the Internet about whether or not yoga pants and leggings (skin-tight attire that used to be considered underwear, but are now fashionable as outerwear) should be considered immodest dress.

The sparks started flying in the early days of January when Christian blogger Veronica Partridge penned the article “Why I Chose to No Longer Wear Leggings.” The post went viral, and Partridge even appeared on Good Morning America later in the month to discuss the controversy her article caused.

In a follow-up post, Partridge says she’s endured “the most hateful comments of my life” for simply stating her personal feelings on the immodesty of leggings, and that she will no longer wear them in public. Walsh was also the subject of vicious attacks for his post, even from “the right.” I can sympathize after being called a myriad of hateful names, had people wish for my death, and even receiving the most vile comments about my three-month old daughter when I engaged in this debate on social media.

It seems for a woman to suggest that some article of women’s clothing (in this case yoga pants) is immodest in today’s culture somehow equates to anti-woman “slut shaming” (see here for an explanation of this twisted thinking). This goes double for a man, who is also considered a pervert for happening to notice what women around him are wearing, or not wearing.

Are the majority of women who are wearing these tight pants doing so to draw attention to themselves in some sexual way? I don’t believe so. I’m told they’re just very comfortable pants. But should modesty be considered when wearing them in public? Absolutely.

As Partridge explains:

When men or women act individually minded (thinking of only themselves) rather than community minded (courteous of others), we put our culture in danger. In reference to the original statement, ‘I should be able to wear whatever I want,’ I want to clarify that you can. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And let’s not forget that 25 year old men are not the only ones with eyes….

I might not realize the effect I have on my neighbor’s 13 year old son entering the age of sexuality. I might not realize the effect I have on a mother’s daughter who may be struggling with the shape of her body. And I might not realize the effect I have on the bus driver who may be fighting through his own battle with sex addiction.

Each of these examples is worth spending time considering, but what is key is Partridge’s point about the destruction of the culture. A radical focus on individual self-interest and self-gratification ultimately leads to the disintegration of the family, and our culture.

The institution of marriage and the family unit has suffered greatly over the past 50 years with the widespread acceptance of contraception and the contraceptive mentality. Add to that societal decay the rise of “uncontrolled consumerism,” and we have what Pope Francis often refers to as a “throwaway culture” that completely rejects the dignity of the human person.

But when it comes to modesty of dress, here’s the big problem: It’s highly unlikely that the vast majority of young women and young men have ever been engaged with a serious and thoughtful discussion about modesty, or the greater virtue of chastity.

When young people are told to embrace everyone’s differences—no matter how immoral—and never be critical of others for fear of being labeled a bully, how could that conversation ever come up and be taken seriously?

A week before the March for Life I was asked to give a presentation to my parish youth group about the importance of being involved in building a Culture of Life. I told this group of about 30 high school students that when we as Catholics talk about a “Culture of Life,” ending abortion is just one of many challenges we face.

Among a long list of threats and challenges (including artificial contraception, euthanasia, and defending marriage), I listed the heavenly virtue of chastity.

As a catechist for sixth graders at my parish (along with my lovely wife) I have to teach a lesson on chastity every year. The lesson comes directly from the diocese, which has a Formation in Christian Chastity lesson for every grade level.

These 11-12-year-olds hear, directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that: “Part of chastity is modesty. Modesty means, ‘refusing to unveil what should remain hidden (CCC 2521).’ … ‘Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing (CCC 2522).’ We must dress so as to adequately cover the private parts of our bodies. We must not dress so as to arouse unhealthy curiosity in others. …We show respect for God, others, and ourselves by dressing and acting modestly.”

Additionally, as the Church teaches, “All people, regardless of their state of life, are called to be holy. Chastity helps us to discover what our own vocation is—whether it is marriage, the priesthood, religious life, or the single life.”

What’s clear is that a greater effort must be made to have these conversations about modesty and chastity, and reinforce them often. And there must be a greater concern among the faithful for publicly explaining and defending Church teaching in this regard. We can expect a radical vocal minority to mischaracterize and slander the Church’s beautiful teachings on modesty and chastity, and those who hold to them—like they do for all Church doctrine regarding human sexuality. All the more reason to speak up loudly and often.

There are so many challenges to building a Culture of Life. Dressing modestly should be an easy one to tackle.


  1. Drem on January 29, 2015 at 5:19 PM

    sexy yoga pants? all women look sexy in them no matter what. I always check out this website for my yoga reviews – I especially like the yoga pants review. They’re awesome because they can be used for anything and are cheap. Lounging around on the couch, to a full practice hot yoga class. plus they aren’t see through. Be modest, sexy and still be comfortable.

    • prolifemama on May 8, 2015 at 12:34 PM

      Drem, did you read any of Mr. Cassandra’s article, any at all?

      Well, I did. And what struck me was all those who may be struggling with sex addiction, watching me walk by in my yoga pants. Knowing that how I look is most probably causing them to struggle harder, perhaps lose their battle, makes me think twice about how I appear to others, even to myself.

      How do you manage to fit “modest” and “sexy” in the same thought? They cancel one another out! Being modest means you’re not
      intentionally trying to attract anyone sexually. Being sexy means that
      is your ONLY intention.

      Yoga pants are cheap, that’s for sure. And that’s how every woman looks in them.

      • Krista Thomas on May 13, 2015 at 3:02 PM

        Thank you for commenting on Mr. Cassandra’s article. Modesty is always best.

      • Mike Smith on June 5, 2015 at 7:43 AM

        When I look at a picture of my late wife, perhaps a year before she died–her weight out of control due to medication, or even a death photo I took right after she passed, I see the most beautiful—most desirable woman in the world! Not sexy. I don’t even know what yoga pants look like but I can pretty sell assure you they would not have looked sexy on her. Or her in them, for that matter. She was (is) the most desirable women in the world to me because she was God’s intended mate for me. We both knew it the moment we met. Tell your sixth grade students that!

        • prolifemama on June 5, 2015 at 1:40 PM

          Dear Mike, thank you for your insightful, inspiring comment. I am so sorry for your loss. More, I am gratified by your appreciation of your wife as God’s gift to you, and you to her.

          My husband and I recently agreed to drop the word “sexy” from our mutual lexicon, as it is not the way we feel, nor want to feel, about one another. St. John Paul II knew well the truth of this when he said that one could commit adultery even with one’s spouse.

          Thinking of my husband as “sexy” is to treat him as an object for my lusts.

          The word you employ – desirable – is much more appropriate, because it is grounded in Truth. And Jesus is our Way, our Truth, our Life. As single persons and religious, Christians should desire above all else, God’s will for them. And married people, in their relationship with one another, should strive to mirror Christ and His Church, for each other and for the world. Their desire should be, to be Gift to their spouses, and to accept the Gift of their spouses, as they are from God.

        • Mike Smith on June 5, 2015 at 2:48 PM

          It is God’s blessing that there remain a few like you, prolifemama, who have escaped the corruption of language de-humanizing of culture. I was aided by having read Sheldon van Auken’s book, A Severe Mercy, many years ago. I was able to bring her into the Church, so she had benefit of the sacraments. Neither of us were perfect — just meant for our journey together.

        • prolifemama on June 21, 2015 at 2:19 PM

          Mike, I will keep you and your wife in my daily prayers. Such a wonderful gift you have given her – the fullness of truth in your faith! When you meet her again in Heaven, the work God began in you through your marriage will be perfected, because of your trust in Him, as Christ has promised.

          Thank you so much for your kind words, and for the wonderful book recommendation. I very much look forward to reading it!

        • Mike Smith on June 22, 2015 at 7:33 AM

          During the Traditional Mass yesterday the Holy Spirit spoke to me as I contemplated the huge family in front of me. Nine children, about even between boys and girls. (One boy was assisting the priest up front.) As I am often distracted during mass a thought popped into my head, “Why would you crush the flowers!” That’s what our culture does today, it crushes the flowers! The smallest and not so small children! The innocents of all ages, today’s ‘sexy’ … or ‘gender-y—if you will! The Culture of Death! It crushes the flowers, even those yet to blossom! Please, God, send forth St. Michael and all your holy angels to protect the flowers!

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