No, Montana didn’t ban yoga pants.
The highly publicized—and mercilessly ridiculed–“yoga pants” bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. David Moore, is now tabled in committee, perhaps indefinitely.
Nor would the bill, H.R. 365, actually ban the wearing of yoga pants, either in private or in public. It would expand the state’s law against indecent exposure to include “any device, costume, or covering that gives the appearance of or simulates the genitals, pubic hair, anus region, or pubic hair region.”
Yoga pants got into the picture only when Moore told a reporter after a hearing on the bill, “Yoga pants should be illegal in public anyway. Moore had drafted the bill in response to outrage by many residents of Missoula, Montana over a “Bare As You Dare” event in August 2014 in which hundreds of cyclists, many completely nude and others nearly so, rolled through the city’s downtown.
Now, I don’t think Moore’s bill is a good idea, mostly because it would be extremely difficult to enforce, obliging police to make close calls about exactly how tight and revealing clothing would have to be to violate the law. But I can see what he’s talking about.
There are yoga pants, and then there are yoga pants. There are the well-made, upmarket leggings that serious yoga enthusiasts wear in class. Those are clingy, but they’re carefully crafted not to cling too revealingly, partly because that would be uncomfortable when doing yoga. Furthermore, their wearers, most of whom are people with standards of good taste and appropriate dress, usually partially cover them with a T-shirt or sweatshirt when on the street or in the supermarket.
Then, there are the garments you see on the Internet when you Google “people of Walmart leggings.” Oh my. These are the garments that call to mind “indecent exposure,” even when their wearers, technically speaking, aren’t actually exposing anything. You want to avert your eyes.
What Moore seems to be trying to do is legislate that people show some class. Riding a bicycle naked or practically naked through an urban downtown isn’t classy. Nor is wearing a pair of cheap, cheesy, see-through leggings when out in public. In fact, it’s usually downright disgusting. But the wearers are adults, and such garments are apparently acceptable in certain low-grade social circles nowadays.
You can’t legislate good taste. But you can wish that that there were at least some informal way to enforce it.