Hundreds defend yoga pants in protest parade

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Monday, October 24, 2016

BARRINGTON, RI -- Hundreds of women, girls and other supporters proudly donned their yoga pants Sunday as they peacefully paraded around the Rhode Island neighborhood of a man who derided the attire as tacky and ridiculous.

Alan Sorrentino said the response to his letter to the editor, printed in The Barrington Times on Wednesday, has been "vicious" and that he's received death threats. He maintained the letter was meant to be humorous.

In the letter Sorrentino criticized yoga pants as similar to a man wearing a Speedo in public and that they doing nothing to "compliment women over 20."

But organizers said even if Sorrentino's letter was meant to be a joke, the message is clear.

"Women are fed up with the notion that we have to dress for people's visual pleasure," said Jamie Burke, parade organizer.

The so-called yoga pants parade, covered by WPRI-TV, wasn't a protest against Sorrentino specifically but part of a bigger movement against misogyny and men dictating how women should dress, organizers said.

More than 300 people - many of them women and young girls - came out for the social media-driven event in the affluent, coastal town of Barrington, wearing yoga pants of different styles and colors.

Some held up signs that said "Peaceful Pants Party" and "I've Got Passion For My Pants."

Participants also collected personal hygiene items for the Sojourner House, a local domestic violence organization. Marchers ended with a group yoga session.

Sorrentino, in his letter, described yoga pants as the worst thing in women's fashion since the miniskirt. He argued that they belong in the yoga studio and that women over age 20 shouldn't wear them in public.

One parade-walker, clad in bright red yoga pants, held a sign that read: "I'm 53."

Sorrentino told WPRO-AM the letter was meant to be a humorous break from the current political campaign rhetoric and that he doesn't really have an issue with yoga pants. He says he even owns a pair.

Sorrentino likened the death threats and expletive-laden voicemails he says he's received to what he's experienced for years as an openly gay man.

"It's vicious and intimidating," he said Saturday on WPRO-AM. "The fact that this is seen as an appropriate reaction to something I wrote in the paper is really disgusting."

On Sunday, a police detail was posted in front of Sorrentino's home, which had a hand-written banner saying "Free Speech" hanging over it. Burke said she advised participants to respect a quiet zone by his home. A call to Sorrentino on Sunday went unanswered.