While exercise is great, we don’t have to do it all the time. My fashion resolution for the new year is to let myself be a little more relaxed. To stop trying to be somebody I am not. I will stop wearing clothes that make me feel bad. Today is the day I say goodbye to all clothes that promised to make me shinier, slimmer, and more optimised. It’s time for me to let out a sigh and go back to what I love.
Athleisure is my downfall. I’m getting rid of the compression leggings. Burning the racer-back long-line sports bra with its modish charcoal-and-terracotta colour palette. The breathable mesh tanks are removed and replaced with bold slogans in Yale University’s adjacent font. I unzipped the cropped hoodie, and took off my trainers.
Although it is meant to be comfortable, the appearance of Athleisure has become a bit like peer pressure. High heels are often criticized for exaggerating hips and emphasising the bottoms. Athleisure puts your body in the spotlight. Not just because crop tops and leggings show off your body’s musculature, but also because they make you look great. You don’t need to look skintight to show off your athleisure. Even if the tracksuit isn’t your favorite, modern coordinated workout gear communicates to the world that fitness and exercise are important to you and that the shape of your body is a core value. Athleisure is power dressing for narcissists.
It’s not about quitting exercise. This is not the point. I find it hard to concentrate if I don’t go for more than two days without running or taking a class. However, that doesn’t mean I need to wear the kit every day.
While exercise is wonderful, we don’t have to force our workout plans down on each other. Even though I make dinner every night, I don’t wear my apron to work. So I’m going to be wearing old-school gym clothes. These were the clothes we used to wear to exercise before the advent public-facing yoga gear, and running tops with matching scrunchies. To be clear, I don’t intend to throw away sports bras or any other clothing. However, I do still have a drawer of promotional T-shirts that are lost in time and tracksuit bottoms that were worn well before the advent of selfies. I am going to wear those again.
Flat shoes were not uncommon a few years ago. Comfortable shoes are now the norm. No one wears high heels unless they feel like it. So it is, now, that in a queue for an oat latte and a sourdough loaf on a Saturday morning, the shiniest, most living-their-best-life people will be in athleisure, and wearing jeans feels a bit beta.
It might be possible to de-escalate situations in which our body image is too prominent if fancy athleisure was just a little more visible. You know, like I love pilates but don’t believe it’s the purpose of life. Lycra is stretchy, but athleisure does not give you much flexibility.
The 21st century’s whalebone corset is known as the athleisure. I am off to change into something more comfortable.