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  • Mercy A. Quaye

Coronavirus will Change the Way we Look and Think

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

By Mercy A. Quaye

April 5, 2020

Athleisure ware on display at a New York City store.
Image compliments of CTPost

COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to check our prejudices and realize what we’ve been missing while closing ourselves off from things outside our bubble. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

It took me a shameful while to realize it at first — but I’ve softened my perspective on one thing so good that I now regret the years I’ve spent rejecting it. For me, this one thing wins the COVID apocalypse and has opened all new doors.

After pacing the floor plan of my home and realizing the various ways we wear our oppression, it was only a matter of time before I confronted this holdup on mine.

I’ve binged all of the quality content on Netflix, Hulu, Sling, Prime and Disney+, with little relief from the ills of this moment, and still, I couldn’t see the value of this one thing holding me together these last few weeks. I was so intently distracted by all the other ways of filling my time that I forgot to stop and appreciate the one thing that was carrying me through the stress and trauma of this pandemic.

Comfy sweatpants.

Surprising, I know. But for those of us working remotely but equally suffering the trauma of prolonged social isolation, sweatpants are the winning utility you never thought you needed.

It’s easy to have thought Zoom won this round of apocalypse now, of course; a telecommunications company would find its claim to fame during a period of extreme social distancing. Isn’t that a bit too obvious?

The showy boastfulness of major companies vying for a spot center stage is exactly why they’re losing in my book. My winner — sweet, comfy sweatpants — has stolen the show completely in part because it’s the sleeper hit we never expected.

I haven’t always felt this way. I’d say the love I’ve discovered in a nice singed waist is a post-corona find that perfectly traverses the space between, “OK, I’m working,” and, “OK, I’m sleeping.” My red ones, high-waisted and multi-pocketed, are nothing short of miracle attire for me to sport during my Zoom calls. What other items of clothing can provide just enough material to remind me that it’s still a workday, without restricting the slothy freedom we’re all being tortured with.

For someone who previously hated being seen in sweatpants, I’ve gone softer and more accepting of them. I’ve lowered my prejudice and I’ve adjusted my expectations for appropriate attire during the COVID apocalypse. I was the person who thought leaving the house in sweatpants was a deplorable action worthy of ridicule. In a lot of ways, I still think that the only difference now is I care way, way less.

To my surprise, and eventual delight, I realized that I have five pairs of sweatpants — a lifetime of leisure laundry with which to make it through these uncertain times. I’ve learned that the miracle fabric used to tailor relaxation into every stitch has improved my quality of life in immeasurable ways and I wish I spent far more time cultivating this love affair in my early 20s.

It might be worth considering what that means about us — that it only takes three weeks for us to change major hold-ups we’ve had in our lives before the coronavirus. Through hand-me-down conditioning, we’ve all policed certain types of attire, disparaging them as clothing for the unemployed, the poor, the violent, or anything else that other people wear.

Whether it was “wife-beater” shirts or baggy pants, we’ve all placed similar assumptions on clothing and determined them to be unfit or symbols of one’s station in life. The equalizing factor here is, we’re all in the same station. Unemployment is through the roof, with in initial jobless claims the highest on record.

Over the coming months, people are going to relax their standards of appropriate attire. Men are going to shave their beards fewer times a week and cut their hair less frequently. Women will likely adopt more athleisure attire — leggings and sweats — and commit to less hairstyling.

The pandemic will change the way we look, maybe forever. With any luck though, it’ll also change the way we think.

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