Women protest after Rhode Island man criticises yoga pants in letter to editor

BARRINGTON, Rhode Island (REUTERS) - A male reader who sent a letter to a small Rhode Island newspaper criticising women who wear yoga pants in public found that snug-fitting pants were the least of his problems, as hundreds of people picketed his home and thousands rebuked him on social media.

Mr Alan Sorrentino, 63, in a letter to the Barrington Times - a newspaper which says it has a print circulation of 5,000 - described yoga pants as "stinky, tacky, ridiculous looking."

"They do nothing to compliment a woman over 20 years old,"he wrote in the letter, which was published on Wednesday (Oct 19).

"In fact, the look is bad. Do yourself a favour, grow up and stop wearing them in public."

On Monday, the letter was posted on news sites around the world and thousands of commenters made their feelings clear on Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Sorrentino told a Providence radio station, WPRO, that he had received death threats, and he compared the threats to those he had received in the past as an openly gay man.

In the radio interview, he urged protesters to "calm down." He did not respond to requests by Reuters for comment.

At Sunday's "Yoga Pants Parade," hundreds of people marched past Mr Sorrentino's house holding up signs reading "we wear what we want" and "love yourself."

Ms Jamie Burke, 40, who organised the protest, said it had a larger meaning than yoga pants.

"This was not about a bunch of ladies parading around for their right to wear yoga pants," she told Reuters. "It was men and women standing up against casual sexism and the policing of women's bodies."

Mr Sorrentino had a different view of the protesters. "They should really take a good look at themselves, and do a little introspection and just calm down and leave people alone. If you have got something to say, write it down, and you don't go terrorise people in their home," he told the radio station.

He said the letter was a satire, but Ms Burke, who said she had invited Mr Sorrentino to come along to the parade, said she was not amused.

"The tone of the letter was just not funny," said Ms Burke, whose husband, children and parents accompanied her at the parade.

"I don't believe it - if he was really kidding, he would have joined us."