Namaste: Women defend wearing yoga pants in peaceful parade

Thousands of New Yorkers are marking the first day of summer by practicing yoga in Times Square, during the 12th annual Solstice in Times Square, sponsored by the Times Square Alliance and Athleta, Gap Inc.'s exercise-wear brand, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

BARRINGTON, R.I. (AP) — Hundreds of women, girls and other supporters proudly donned their yoga pants Sunday afternoon as they peacefully paraded around the Rhode Island neighborhood of a man who derided the attire as tacky and ridiculous.

Alan Sorrentino says the response to the letter to the editor, printed in The Barrington Times Wednesday, has been “vicious” and that he’s received death threats. He implored marchers to stay away from his home and maintained the letter was meant to be humorous.

But organizers say the so-called yoga pants parade wasn’t a protest against Sorrentino specifically but part of a bigger movement against misogyny and men dictating how women should dress.

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, the Providence Journal reported.

Many wore yoga pants of varying styles and colors.

They gathered at a local elementary school and marched along neighborhood streets, some holding pink signs that said “Peaceful Pants Party.”

They also collected personal hygiene items for the Sojourner House, a local domestic violence organization. Marchers ended with a group yoga session on a grassy area by the school.

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

Sorrentino said it was particularly “bizarre and disturbing” to see the outfits on “mature, adult women.” He suggested those women wear a “nice pair of tailored slacks” or jeans instead.

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.”

Organizers said they invited Sorrentino to their event, but that he “very impolitely declined.”

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.

On their Facebook page, parade organizers urged participants not to engage with Sorrentino or any other residents negatively. “Please do not come for a fight, you will be shut down,” a recent post read.

Police and organizers declined to comment Sunday.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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