Glamour’s, Twenty-First-Century Feminism …from the President of the United States

There are a lot of tough aspects to being President. But there are some perks too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.

But perhaps the greatest unexpected gift of this job has been living above the store. For many years my life was consumed by long commutes­—from my home in Chicago to Springfield, Illinois, as a state senator, and then to Washington, D.C., as a United States senator. It’s often meant I had to work even harder to be the kind of husband and father I want to be.

But for the past seven and a half years, that commute has been reduced to 45 seconds—the time it takes to walk from my living room to the Oval Office. As a result, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time watching my daughters grow up into smart, funny, kind, wonderful young women.

That isn’t always easy, either—watching them prepare to leave the nest. But one thing that makes me optimistic for them is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.

In my lifetime we’ve gone from a job market that basically confined women to a handful of often poorly paid positions to a moment when women not only make up roughly half the workforce but are leading in every sector, from sports to space, from Hollywood to the Supreme Court. I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives—about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances. Gone are the days when you needed a husband to get a credit card. In fact, more women than ever, married or single, are financially independent.

So we shouldn’t downplay how far we’ve come. That would do a disservice to all those who spent their lives fighting for justice. At the same time, there’s still a lot of work we need to do to improve the prospects of women and girls here and around the world. And while I’ll keep working on good policies—from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights—there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws.

I’m Single and I Officiate Weddings

I have discovered my Perfect Man does this…

To get something out of the way right off the bat, I see it. I see the cliché dripping from my every word, so pointing it out is unnecessary. I see the cliché in recognizing one’s own cliché. I am 33, I am single, I live alone. I do not have a cat, but only because I’m allergic to cats. I schedule my masturbation. I leave toothpaste clumps on the sink. I leave flossers in the bed that poke me when I roll over. I cry at everything. I exercise religiously for two weeks, then give it up entirely for three. I eat in my bed. I think about dying alone. Like, really think about it. Not just conceptually, but actually dying alone. If I hit my head or have an aneurism, who cleans up the mess I leave behind? I didn’t used to believe in marriage, but now I believe it to be the most amazing thing a person can do. You are signing a contract that says, “You have to deal with this mess when I die.” I can’t imagine that.

I eat alone, I shop alone, I travel alone. In the rare instance where I find myself travelling with someone else, I panic. I feel the need to divulge all of my flying quirks in one hurried breath in the security line because I want my companion to have an out should they want one: I have to be chewing gum as the plane takes off. I have to have the window seat, even though I am 100 feet tall. I have to have a book, which I will not read. What I will do is mildly overdose on Dramamine and sleep fitfully for four hours. I will not wake up in a good mood or in my right mind when we reach our destination. And I have to, HAVE TO have a Hershey bar when I fly, which I will not eat. My mother always had one and I’m pretty convinced that they make the plane stay up. If you fly without a Hershey bar and your plane has never crashed it’s because someone else on board has always had one. Think about that.

The men in my life are bountiful. They are kind. They are handsome and flawed and they smell like laundry and they are passionate and wise. They are comedians and actors and teachers and entrepreneurs. They are fathers and brothers and uncles and they hold coats and know my drink order. They build things and write things and are feminists and warm huggers. These of course, are my friends. My boyfriends, my sex partners, my endless causes of scrunched up eyebrows have been many of the aforementioned as well. Just not for me. Or they possessed those qualities exactly and my head was turned elsewhere. Or some outside distraction had their attention, like an ex-fiancée or a new job or a drinking problem.

Why Yoga Pants are Important to My Feminism

Yoga pants are in the news again, and me and my stretchy waistband have had enough.

Maybe you read that title and thought, wow, this lady is a little too into her spandex workout wear. Yes. Yes I am. I love yoga pants. I cherish yoga pants. I wear them at the gym, at home, at work, and you know what, I’m wearing them right now.

Over the years, I’ve heard yoga pants be the victim of some seriously catty conversation, and me and my favorite pants have just about had it up to here (right to the top of my stretchy, super comfortable, waistband).

First there was the complaint that yoga pants were too revealing. Then there was the whole “you can’t wear those on airplanes” issue, and recently the New York Times article “Why Yoga Pants Are Bad For Women” complained about these pants taking away from the ideal exercising experience by making sweatpants-wearing ladies feel bad about their clothing choice.

When I sat down to read that NYT article, I was expecting it to be something else. From the title, I thought maybe it would be a piece on the importance of warm, circulation-supporting clothes at the gym, or perhaps a thoughtful and fresh perspective on choosing to go against the grain with fashion.

I love yoga pants and I wear them all the time, but I’m always up to read about a different perspective. I can always stand to learn something and I’m not opposed to new ideas. Heck, my mom was able to talk me out of my overalls-every-day phase. I’m convincible.

Stop shaming women for what we wear.

stop complaining about yoga pants

But instead of the opinion piece I was hoping for, I got a shaming article on why my trendy tush is wearing yoga pants to be sexy and how I’m making other women feel bad at the gym.

Apparently, not only are my yoga pants a symbol of my “come and get it” intentions but I’m making everyone around me uncomfortable with either my too-sexy body, or my fat, dimply ass. Plus, I’m peer-pressuring other ladies to throw away their wonderful sweatpants and conform to my spandex ways.

Unfortunately, our society has a way of telling women how they should feel and what they should do. (See: reproductive rights.) The media and individuals alike have a habit of getting all up in women’s business, pointing out things that we’re doing that they have a problem with, and telling us we need to change.

Reading that NYT article, I found myself frustrated with another voice trying to shame women into acting, or in this case, dressing, a certain way. I found myself shaking my head and thinking “et tu?”

Maybe I’m a little bit defensive and perhaps I’m taking this a little too seriously, but I love my pants. And not just yoga pants, any pants.

It’s normal for women to wear them now, but women in pants used to be downright scandalous. In the 19th century, women wanted to move away from bulky dresses and into more convenient, comfortable clothing, but many Victorians said women shouldn’t wear pants at all, claiming they were indecent and inappropriate. When women started wearing them anyway, it meant a huge change.

Pants-wearing ladies could move more freely, participate in sports more easily, and work more physical jobs. But perhaps the most important win was that women were controlling what they wore. It wasn’t just about convenience, it was about women having the choice to wear what they wanted.

And now, in 2018, I’ve had enough of all this body and clothing shaming. I see the same old trick society has been using for years: if I wear too much I’m a prude, if I wear too little I’m a slut. If I’m skinny I’m just trying to show off, and if I’m fat I’m making everyone uncomfortable with my thunder thighs. And now this NYT article is telling us that, on top of all that, yoga pants are making the author feel out of place with her own clothing choices, so we should all stick to sweatpants.

Does that author like sushi? Because she just got a major eye roll.

For me personally, I don’t like sweatpants. They’re too hot and bulky. I prefer yoga pants.

Yoga pants are comfortable and functional. I can get them for really cheap at Target, they can be dressed up or down, they give me a full range of motion, and they’re easy to wash.

But functionality is important to me. I’m a grad student with four jobs and on top of that I’m planning a wedding. I’m exhausted all the time and if I can get a piece of clothing that I can roll out of bed in, slip a dress over to go to work (yoga pants double as thick leggings in my household), and then wear to the gym at night, I’m sold.

Yoga pants are versatile, comfortable, and they help me get things done without having to change outfits everywhere I go.

And sure, the author of the NYT piece is right. Some women aren’t wearing yoga pants for functionality or comfort. Many are picking up those cute Lululemons pants because they’re fashionable and because they make everyone’s butt look better.

And I say: who cares? If a nice pair of workout pants helps you get to the gym, great. If the pants are flattering to your tush, it’s all the better.

Thinking about my yoga pants reminds me of how grateful I am. Not just for the fact that the clothing gods smiled down on me the day I first found these stretchy miracles, but because I know that women in past generations didn’t get to go to school like I am, they didn’t get to work the jobs I get to work, they didn’t get to make the choices I get to make for myself.

To me, a woman choosing to wear what she wants, to choose to show off her body or wear clothing that allow her to go to class, and work, and the gym, is feminist, forward-thinking, and incredible.

I’m going to wear my yoga pants, and I don’t care who likes it.


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