Cami DiMarco wears yoga pants every day, but on Sunday, she specifically chose to put on a patterned, red, white, and blue pair that were especially parade appropriate. After all, she had a point to make.
DiMarco was one of several hundred people who gathered in the coastal town of Barrington, Rhode Island for a peaceful yoga pants parade Sunday afternoon. The march was planned in response to a pointed letter from Barrington resident Alan Sorrentino, who, earlier this week, wrote an opinion piece published in The Barrington Times asking women to “put away the yoga pants.”
The backlash was swift, and the letter went viral. Sorrentino would later say that his piece was intended to be satirical, and he thought it would be a welcome break from the heated discourse surrounding the U.S. presidential election. But, in a time when Republican candidate Donald Trump has been accused of sexual assault and has utilized his platform to make demeaning comments against women, many readers didn’t see anything funny about a man publicly attempting to dictate how they dressed.
After reading the piece, Barrington resident Jamie Burke suggested on Facebook that women should wear yoga pants and march past Sorrentino’s house. The idea caught on, and Burke created a Facebook event to promote the “peaceful yoga pants parade.” Though Sorrentino’s letter spurred the idea, Burke and the other organizers made sure to emphasize that the event was not a hateful protest against him. They also used the parade as an opportunity to collect donations for Sojourner House, a non-profit organization that helps abuse survivors rebuild their lives.
That’s why, about 400 people, including DiMarco and her 25-year-old daughter, Cari Hogberg, came to show their support. Because Sorrentino also wrote in his letter that yoga pants do nothing to complement women older than 20, DiMarco carried a large red sign that said, “I’m 53.”
“I wear yoga pants every single day,” DiMarco said. “But I’m really excited about this. It’s a chance to get together and show that we can wear whatever we choose.”
Hogberg, who wore a gray pair of leggings with a tie-dye waistband, said she was thrilled to be able to attend the event with her mom. “It doesn’t matter what age you are,” she said. “Women have the right to wear whatever they want to wear. And it’s really special that I can be here with my mom standing up for women’s rights.”
“I don’t want my young girls growing up in a society where men dictate what’s feminine,” she said. “We’re here and we’re wearing yoga pants to show what it means to wear the insult and show that the male establishment doesn’t define femininity.”
Just before the parade-goers wearing yoga pants in every style and hue began a leisurely stroll in Sorrentino’s quiet neighborhood, Burke addressed the crowd and told them to turn to one another and say, “You are awesome.” There was no chanting or yelling during the less than one mile parade, and many residents in the neighborhood stood on their front porches waving and recording the procession. Some had posted lawn signs that said, “Welcome Yoga Pants.”
“I live in this neighborhood, and it’s weird to see so many people from outside this area marching through for yoga pants,” said high schooler Catie Cauzzone, who took part in the parade with three friends. “But it’s also so cool.”
Sorrentino’s house had a sign, too; a large white poster that said “Free Speech,” hung alongside a peace sign. About 30 minutes after they started walking, the parade-goers reconvened to practice a few yoga poses before going on their way. A few feet away, Burke took a photo with her fellow parade organizers to commemorate the event.
“Pants,” they said as they smiled.
After a photo was snapped, they quickly corrected themselves. “It’s not about the pants,” they said before the next photo. Because to everyone who attended, it was about so much more.