Sometimes I think the yoga community just needs to take more Savasanas. When they are not up in tree-posing arms over whether yoga can wreck your body, their bendy bodies are in a kink over the latest Equinox ads. Neither of which is worth getting into a commotion about.
In the controversial new ad for Equinox, one of their very own yoga teachers, Briohny Smyth, demonstrates her handstand poses in her underwear while her boyfriend/husband/yoga slacker is still sleeping. But, hey this is Equinox we’re talking about–the same gym who brought us those demeaning ads earlier this month featuring delicate, skinny women in sexual, submissive positions. Only difference is, this time we like their ad.
Smyth not only shows off her body and yoga skills, but she shows off her incredible strength. Anyone who has ever attempted these moves can appreciate that. It depicts her as a strong female who is in kick-ass shape and full of obvious confidence, balance and peace. And as a matter of fact, I didn’t even notice she was in her undies at first because I was too busy being in awe of her strength and grace. So what’s all the controversy about then?
Well it seems that some yogis are offended and think the ad is too sexual.
Julie Peters writes on the Elephant Journal:
I think if I wasn’t a yogi or a woman or some combination of things that make me who I am, I’d see just the beauty of the video and move along. But the woman in the video is not only sexy, she is sexualized. This video exemplifies the male gaze: the sense that a woman is being watched, looked on as an object, (in pieces, at that: hip, thigh, butt, feet) from the heterosexual male perspective.
She goes on to say:
There is a difference between an erotic, sexy female body and a sexualized female body, especially when it’s being used to sell something.
I completely disagree. I think our society has become so sensitive to the female body and how it’s used, that any ad which features one is grounds for criticism. I will agree, in some cases that’s warranted. But not in this one. As a yogi myself, I just see a woman who is “getting her yoga on” first thing in the morning. I watch that and think, “Good for her.” It inspires me to be a better yogi.
I love the way Kathryn Budig from the Huffington Post interviewed Smyth and gave us a completely different take on the whole thing. She learned that myth was an Asian pop star at the age of 13 struggling with an eating disorder, which yoga helped her battle. Kathryn then comes to her defense, asking us not to judge her by the lack of clothing or by the sexual connotations:
It’s a gentle reminder that we are quick to judge when we have no idea where someone else is coming from. People often overcome mountains of adversary to be in a place where they can shine.
Nevertheless, the controversy continues. Take a look at the video and the newest parody of it and let us know what you think. Namaste!
First there was this one:
To which humorist Michael Stusser (a contributor to Yoga International and Shambhala Sun) responded with a very funny parody: