No Fat Yogis! [WTF?!]


courtesy of ebaumsworld and super-librarian

There was a short blurb in Yoga Journal‘s Yoga Buzz blog today about the obvious clothing bias in the yoga world towards curvy yogis.  The blog cites a recent Vancouver Sun article that shows the Lululemon flagship store no longer stocking size 14, despite claims by corporate headquarters.  (Makes me want to head over to the Prudential store here in Boston and check  what their largest size is.)

Looking at the major clothing companies like Lululemon (the obvious first choice), Lucy, Gaiam and PrAna, it’s clear that there is little to no clothing marketed for women with significant curves or for women who aren’t at least 5’6″.  Sorry all you petite yogis, you’re not wanted either.  Because apparently short/fat/curvy/tall or muscular people can’t do yoga.  Oh, and men?  This means you, too.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against the wall.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a “skinny minnie” yogi.  At 5’6″ I’ve always been pretty thin and, thanks to my teacher discount, tend to wear mostly Lulu clothing.  I like the fit and they are the best I’ve tried for heated practices in wicking sweat away. BUT, even I have gotten the “up and down” when walking into a Lulu store.

Am I their target market right now?  Yes.  Will I be when I’m still practicing at 40 and have had children?  Probably not.  And that’s a damn shame.

As a teacher, I consider my most successful classes are those when I get a good cross-section of men and women, ages, sizes and abilities, and EVERYone leaves class with a smile on their faces and glowing from the inside.  That is successful yoga.  Successful yoga is not wearing $98 pants that hug your size 2 ass.

So, three questions for you:

  • If you’re an extra-petite yogi or a yogi with curves, what do you wear to your yoga classes?
  • If you were going to purchase yoga clothes, what kind of clothing would you like to see?
  • Has not having appropriate clothing kept you from trying out yoga altogether or from trying a different style/type of yoga?

18 responses to “No Fat Yogis! [WTF?!]

  1. I have found this to be true every time I try to buy (*cough* overpriced) yoga tops! I’m a woman with a good sized chest, and I need to wear a sports bra or the like, and even those “supportive” tops don’t work for me. It’s hard to concentrate on my breath when I’m worried my breasts suddenly making an appearance, ya know?

    • I’ve heard similar complaints from bustier yogis. Shoulder stands and most inversions are brutal because they end up suffocating in their boobs.

  2. ha! I *told* you I wouldn’t fit into Lulu clothes. I’ve tried Prana and Gaiam clothes on (on deep discount, of course) and they’re cut too narrow, even in the larger sizes. Big midwestern girls with boobs and butts/thighs of steel need not bother.

    I’m not a fan of the tight. Form skimming is fine. Tight? Hell no!

    It’s not just yoga. It’s been a problem in all areas of fitness clothing. “Fat” people don’t work out, you know. Doh!

    • I love Newsweek’s photo gallery of people who are considered “fat” doing awesome, healthy, active things. They put this together to disprove the myth that fat people a) don’t work out and b) are permanently attached to their couch.

      Newsweek article and photo gallery are here.

      Fabulous Shapely Prose article about said gallery here.

  3. There are a total of 4 pieces of men’s yoga for sale.

    Also, in something you posted a while ago about encouraging ‘dudes’ to do yoga.

    I was very irked by her telling “What not to wear,” with absolutely no mention whatsoever of something to wear.


    • Precisely! Unless men are as a lithe as the women, there are very few options of appropriate clothes.

      Not being a dude, I’m not sure what a guy would feel most comfortable in, but I can wager a guess that shorts that are tight enough not to display any bits and pieces while in an inversion, yet loose enough for movement, modesty and comfort would be high on the priority list.

  4. To offer a contrary opinion, I’m a tall, well-endowed woman. I have big boobs coupled with a narrow rib cage, and long legs to boot.

    Until I got the teacher discount and finally sprang for a pair of lulu pants, I stuck to yoga capris because anything longer wouldn’t actually be long enough. Tops are another challenge. If I didn’t sweat like mad, I’d practice in a sports bra and a-line tank (AKA a hanes wife beater). The material many of these yoga companies use is better for the moisture, but I’m usually stuck with the choice of something that doesn’t sit right on my rib cage or a super duper chesty display. It’s almost as if they don’t expect people who do yoga to have boobs at all.

    The issue of max sizing is only part of the problem. I’m more bothered by the notion that there’s a specific yoga body type (straight and narrow) over all–it’s very inclusive and judgmental considering the values the community claims to espouse.

  5. I can attest that in Seattle the largest size I’ve seen at Lulu is 12. I am on the shorter side (5’5″ on my good days) but am fortunate to not have a problem fitting in to lulu stuff. HOWEVER, I will say that I do find Lulu’s sizing problematic. In every other pant in the world, I wear a 6. In lulu sizes, I wear an 8. Which makes me think that those women who are an AVERAGE size of 12, would need the size 14 pant. Oh but wait – they can’t get it.

    • I think it’s a larger issue with women’s clothing sizes: for one woman alone, she could wear a 10 in one store, a 12 at another, and a 14 at a third. It’s ridiculous and frustrating. I’d love to know who and how they came up with that particular way of generic sizing.

  6. For yoga I typically wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts with integrated undergarment, both from Lululemon. Both are stretchy material and on the mildly tight (but not scandalous) side.

    I got them in a mens’ S size, which is unusual for me. I’m 5’11” / 170lb which I don’t consider ‘small’ for a man. The reason why is that I’d prefer to avoid draping / flopping fabric when I’m in some asana or another, and other athletic shirts of mine had the tendency of falling down for inversions.

    • Good to know, Jack. Thank you for offering a glimpse into what works for you, in yoga, as a man. Sounds like Lulu’s got some weirdness on men’s sizing as well as the women’s if they are sizing a nearly 6′ tall man as a small…

  7. For the little that I’ve done yoga I tended to wear: sports bra, tank top (men’s hanes, they seem to keep their shape better and didn’t flop on inversions) and a pair of pj pants from Target. I now have some capris and pants that I use for running that might be appropriate, but I still would prefer the soft cotton of the pjs over the “sports” material. (It isn’t particularly wicking.)
    On the sizing issue, I generally am looking for sporty stuff for running or hiking/camping and I”ve noticed the same issues. I’m 5’2″ and hover around 150 so I’m short, but not so small, so petites are usually out, but anything else is super long (think 36″ inseams) or just cut for a completely different body type (aka not curved). I did recently go to an actual Title 9 store that had a few things that fit well, but they weren’t cheap, and I certainly wouldn’t have known that those brands fit well without trying them on. (Title 9 does not have actual stores in Beantown.) Oh well, just another challenge that we’ll have to figure out!

  8. Thanks for sharing your experience, Andrea. I’ve heard Title Nine has great clothes, but yes, even just looking on their website, it’s not cheap.

    I’m seriously starting to think of opening an athletic clothing line for curvy, petite, muscular, tall women.

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  10. Thank you for posting these questions! Yes, not having appropriate clothing has kept me from trying out yoga at a yoga studio. I am 5′ 6″ and weigh about 115 pounds, and at 41 years old, am no longer comfortable wearing the athletic clothing available in the junior department. Until I discovered Lululemon I could not find clothes that were age-appropriate and also fit me. I would like to be large enough to fit into the XS or S sizes offered by most companies, but that may never happen because I’m naturally small-boned. I am concerned that when I’m old enough to perhaps prefer looser yoga clothing, it will not be there for me – those looser clothes never seem to be made in my size. My hope is that yogis at both ends of the size spectrum, as well as those in the middle, may be well served by clothing manufacturers. And also that we will be able to respect and care for each other. Real women have curves; real women are skinny and straight; and real women are somewhere in the middle. Why can’t we all have clothes that support our yoga practice?

    • Absolutely, Linda! I have a dear friend who wears a “double zero petite” a size I never knew existed. She hated shopping because the only things that fit were from the juniors department and weren’t professional enough (she’s a doctor.)

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