One of the joys of being a yoga blogger is getting emails from yoga publicists. The latest yogalebrity hype landed in my inbox with the subject line, “Get the perfect body with Yogalosophy.”
It was from Jennifer Aniston’s yoga teacher’s publicist, repping Mandy Ingber and telling me about her new “Yogalosophy” app. The pitch was accompanied by a press kit, which I couldn’t resist checking out. When I opened the file, I was dismayed to see Ingber posing with a pink round starburst, “Having the body you want begins with LOVING the body you have.”
I had to read it a couple of time. This logic is screwed. By loving the body you have, doesn’t that mean you accept it and your imperfections, and cease to want your body to be anything else? Taking on a 28-day challenge (upon which the app and the book of the same name are based) is sort of an indication that you want to change something about yourself and thus maybe not loving the body you have at this very moment. I mean, if you were totally loving the body you have, wouldn’t you be out there living an amazing life and not following some 28-day self-improvement program?
Not only is Ingber co-opting body positive messaging to sell her stuff, she’s being complicit with body shaming advertising tactics. She’s not the only high-profile yoga teacher doing this.
I had to reach out to IAYB friend Melanie Klein for some insight. As a writer, speaker, professor and co-founder of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition (YBI), she knows about this kind of stuff. “Mirroring pop culture at large, yoga has commodified and objectified the female body as a means to drive sales and maximize profits. The stereotypical ‘yoga body’ — or what Ingber’s package description promotes as the ‘enviable silhouette’ she has helped her celebrity clients obtain — becomes the central focus sold to prospective consumers who have accepted the cultural barometer that assesses and assigns value to girls and women primarily on how closely they approximate the mainstream beauty standard.”
Of course, Ingber isn’t the only one perpetuating this standard. It’s prevalent throughout the yoga industry. Another recent example is Yoga Journal’s #loveyourbody social media campaign with Kathryn Budig. They co-opted that phrase directly from the YBI’s mission statement, which is kind of low.
Lately, a lot of my IAYB work has been directed towards body image and promoting positive messages. At times, it feels like I’m saying the same thing over and over. Then I see something like this and I realize that my work, and the work of YogaDork, YBI, Curvy Yoga, etc, is so necessary. Let’s keep up the good fight.