Yoga is NOT just for Skinny White Girls.


I stumbled upon an article recently that I really wanted to talk about.

Decolonizing YogaYoga: Not just for Young, Skinny White Girls – Decolonizing Yoga.

This piece by Dianne Bondy talks about how “a size fourteen black woman fit[s] in amongst what the media has created as the ultimate yoga beauty standard” of a young skinny Caucasian in Lululemon. She points out that she has never seen a yoga model that comes in her size and color grace the cover of a magazine.

Now, of course, in a classic the-majority-can’t-see-the-problems-of-the-minority move, I was immediately thrown off by this claim. I felt like that couldn’t be true.

So I googled.

And it’s very true.

The first six pages of a Google search of the word yoga yielded many, many good-looking bendy white women, a few kids, a few Asians of various ethnicities, three men (two white, one black), and quite an odd number of cats. After that I stopped looking.

“Overweight yoga” was slightly better, but still extremely whitewashed, and a good number of skinny models leaked through, as well as a number of weight-loss ads.

I bit the bullet and went straight for Yoga Journal.

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YogaJournal_June_2011_CoverAustralianYogaJournal-Cover

 

A search for Yoga Journal immediately yielded the diversity I was looking for ethnicity wise, but man are these girls skinny. I’m starting to see what Dianne was talking about.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash on Yoga Journal. I’m a huge fan of the magazine. Yet I can see the argument on Dianne’s side that their body sizes fit a certain media Yoga Barbie image. I’ve talked before about how I dislike how clients will use yoga solely as a way to lose weight. I don’t think that the thin yogi image is one that we should continue perpetrating.

I have clients of various age, race, size and skill level. I know several yogis that are not classically thin that can pull off a decent amount of the cool yoga poses magazines typically put on their covers. There are a few students that come in that fit the Yoga Journal cover profile, but they are few and far between, and god knows I am not one of them.

Surely a yoga magazine could afford to put at least one Anti-Barbie on their cover.

2 comments

  1. teresabass

    YES! Agreed. I’m 52 and a size 10/12…things just don’t hang like they used to. One of my yoga instructors is a teeny tiny(very short) French woman in her late 70’s and she puts most of us to shame! That woman can fold like a napkin. Whether it’s yoga, running, cycling….fill in the blank….I wish the media would stop with their youth-obsessed, overly thin portrayal of what it means to be fit. I also cycle and some really strong female cyclists come in all shapes and sizes. Thanks for the post!

    • evlracer

      Amen! Excellent point about age shaming. Some of the strongest people I know are well over twice my age. Beauty in youth is a genetic accident. Beauty in age is proof of a life well lived.

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