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Tara Stiles Models For American Apparel Yoga, Keeps Clothes On

in Public Display of Yoga, YD News, Yoga Pop

Tara-Stiles-American-Apparel-Ad-smHm, not sure how we feel about this. We caught the ad of stretchy Tara over at elephantjournal, and honestly our gut reaction was eep. True story.

American Apparel has been a yogis’ choice for practice attire for a while now. It just seems that all of sudden they’ve decided to make a go for it with advertising dollars, and opted for an actual yogi to model them, which we suppose is commendable. Or is it.

ele describe Ms. Stiles as “sweet as she is savvy, as grounded as she is ambitious, as lovely as she is tasteful.”

Thank heavens for the tasteful part. We love AA for their relatively cheap clothes and Made in USA sweatshop-less manufacturing, but their ads are just about anything but tasteful (case in point). We gotta hand it to Tara for convincing them to keep all her clothes on. (honestly this is pretty tame – we were expecting mesh or at least lamé in hanumanasana)

Besides that, not necessarily in the diss dept, but we can’t help thinking that savvy ambition is exactly what we were talking about in the YAMA (Yoga Artist Management Agency) post. Just an observation.

We’re going to leave this one to the yogi-peanuts. What do you think?

PS. on a completely unrelated yet ad-related note, where’s the Yogi “Got Milk?” ad? Surely that’s next!

Full AA ad below…


American Apparel Tara Stiles Ad

62 comments… add one
  • Liz Lawler

    Yikes… “Yogi’s choice for practice attire.” Not so sure about that.

  • When was the last time you wore a leotard with tights? I think for me, it was in the 80’s doing aerobics. Can’t think of a single yogi who’d be caught dead in that get up in a yoga class!

  • I agree! Who’s really going to do yoga in a white leotard and sheer tights?

  • Too bad AA ads went there. It would be nice if the yoga community resisted the temptation to reduce a woman down to just her sexuality, especially since it seems to be done with such complete abandon every where we turn. These photos are very ordinary and anyone could have been the model. Ho hum.

    The postures can be done with attention and integrity to convey a complex and deep sense of “femaleness” which includes sexuality. I’m probably asking for too much from an American Apparel ad (they did hire a yogini, right?), but a well done posture modeling the clothing would have been infinitely more “alluring”, would have presented the idea of a women-in-tights as something more than a sexual creature on the couch, and maybe even sold more clothing in the long run.

  • This is in such bad taste. But she’s also done ads for Nissan, so whatevs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTdJSi7-uHQ&feature=related). This is the lesser of both evils, I guess. At least she isn’t doing yoga in this tacky piece of advertising ~ unless perhaps the top pic is just a pose I’m not familiar with, KissMySexyAsana or something.

    • Jen

      The tree pose in this video is very unaligned — who’s teaching her?

  • I didn’t think that looked like ‘yoga clothes’ but if she wears that to teach, I’m so there. KissMySexyAsana is pretty funny. Actually, I get the impression that she is pretty cool…

  • aja

    I agree with Ther, I am not loving the whole sexual creature on a couch thing – you hired a yogi (and a good one at that I hear) make her work! But enough yogi wardrobe obsession – wear your best, wear your heart on your sleeve, come in your pjs…as long as you are wearing something, let’s do yoga!

  • They are not this yogini’s apparel of choice! Do your homework on American Apparel and their owner’s institutionalized sexual harrasment. Seriously. Lululemon is disingenuous and obnoxious, but they’re tame compared to the slime that is American Apparel. There are good yoga clothing companies with integrity — why not support them and give them some publicity instead?

  • AA isAOK

    hmm.. “A yogi’s choice”…is what was said. to be frank there are plenty of practitioners sporting AA, me included, and like it. have had pants and dance tops for, I dunno, 4 years and they suit just fine.
    that ‘homework’ comment is such a pet peeve.. arf.

  • admin

    to be clear…the point was that American Apparel has been making yoga-specific clothing for a while, and that it’s only new that they’re advertising it. and yes, it’s not usually tights and leotards! ha.
    Oh man, KissMySexyAsana is exactly what she’s doing… trust me, I’m yogadoc.. er yogadork 😉

  • Tara Stiles

    After modeling for years for whatever brand Ford booked me on including Nike, Adidas, Stella, Reebok, Athleta, and others, I was excited when my work shifted to bringing healthy living to people in a more deliberate and intentional way. I’m proud to be teaching yoga at many of the country’s greatest sporting events for Master the Shift and I’m grateful to have other similar projects in the works. Everyone needs yoga. I approached Dov about deliberately entering the yoga market for many reasons. First I visited the factory and hung out with some of the employees who all worked hard and were devoted to equal rights and American labor. I have worn their clothes for yoga for a while because of these issues and also I like their fit and style. I don’t care to wear a lotus blossom on my behind, but that’s just me. I’m in AA’s drawstring pants and boy beater daily. You can wear what you like and advertise who you like. We have that freedom unlike the kiddies who are sewing up the lulus while Wilson laughs when they struggle to pronounce his brand.

    Legalize LA!
    Legalize GAY!

    Tara 🙂

    ps. I’m repped by CAA if anyone knows the “Got Milk” people. That’s a great idea! Healthy bones, happy cows!

  • You tell em’ Tara!

    Wow Dork, first Sadie and now Tara. I expect ‘Don’ Bikram and Ramdev to be checking in soon to set your shit straight:)

  • admin

    haha..OMG Dawg, buh-ring on the HOTness! now wouldn’t that just be the cat’s pajamas.

  • I love AA, personally, because as a company they walk their talk far better than Lululemon and the like, which are all made halfway across the world. If you want eco, fair labor yoga duds, which would seem to be “right action,” AA comes close (though with exception of organic line, their fair-labor made in USA line is not eco-made, toxic dyes and bleaches involved just like with every other company). Be Present is another great company doing it right for the yoga crowd. Who else?

    Love you, Tara, and love Yogadork—I read you all the time, love your pov and style and integrity—and thanks as always for the uptop attribution, and kudos on…geez…14 comments and counting, you’re beating us on our own post, and then some:


  • Tara, I think you look great and love that you are working towards things that agree w/ your principles/philosphy. It’s terrific that you have the luxury to chose how you spread your message and that of the benefits of yoga. However, I would personally have liked it better if you had posed in your “typical” yoga gear of drawstrings and tanks. If that’s what you always wear of AA, why not suggest it for your photos? One of my favorite things about yoga is that anyone can do it, it is all inclusive and frankly, for all body types. By having their “yoga” clothing be primarily leotards, AA is suggesting that really only models are yogis/yoginis. Kind of an anti-yoga message in my mind.

    p.s. my standard practice gear is some random T (often my YogaDork one) and these pants. Somehow they seem less provocative than a leotard, maybe that’s just me….http://www.bepresent.com/bpstore/product.php?productid=16303&cat=249&page=2

  • As an independently-owned yoga store, we’ve seen our fair share of clothing lines over the years. Our firm position is that keeping it real = keeping it local! In the clothing and fashion industry, keeping it local means keeping it within the U.S. whenever possible. When we decide which lines to carry in our store, corporate companies which manufacture their products in developing nations are not an option. We wouldn’t feel in-integrity if we wore such clothing lines, and we certainly wouldn’t feel in-integrity if we carried them at our store. American Apparel does manufacture their clothing in downtown LA and that’s to be commended. However, their CEO and frontman Dov Charney has been accused of sexual harassment by his employees numerous times, and we find this pattern questionable. Also, as mentioned before, AA does not incorporate eco-consciousness into its products as much as it could. With so many other independently-owned U.S.-based clothing lines from which to choose, why not consider throwing your support toward one that’s ethically cooler? 🙂

  • I forgot to add that http://www.bepresent.com (whom I believe Tara was referring to w/ “lotus on the butt” pants) is a USA company that makes their products here too. They use environmentally friendly practices and often organic cotton. They just don’t need sexy ads to sell their clothes. I’m proud to buy their products and to support them.

    here’s what they say on their website:

    be present respects the yoga industry and the yoga lifestyle, and to maintain integrity within the industry we do everything possible to ensure that our merchandise is manufactured entirely within the United States. The majority of our manufacturing is done within a twenty mile radius of our headquarters in Denver Colorado. Furthermore, we use organic fabrics and environmentally friendly practices. Industry integrity is paramount, and be present strives to do our part for the local and global community. In an effort to be responsible, every year we give a percentage of our proceeds to local, national and global charities.

  • Hard to think of any brand that’s both made in usa (AA), solar-powered (as is AA to some extent), fair-labor (AA), and eco (which, as we’ve said, AA is to only a small extent).

    Who do you like? Be Present, which I love, is not completely eco, don’t know where they’re made…they might however be good contender. Probably best is to get vintage, second-hand!

  • Sizing up clothing companies in terms of social and eco responsibility is definitely kind of tricky, as Waylon points out. However, in response to his question, we would point to three of the core clothing lines that we carry: OmGirl, Hard Tail, and Beyond Yoga. All three companies manufacture their clothing in LA via fair labor practices, all three are independently-owned, and all three have a higher percentage of organic cotton in their collections than AA does. And here’s the ticker: to the best of our knowledge, none of them run offensive ads which objectify young women and none of their owners have ever been sued for sexual harassment once, let alone multiple times. Just sayin’!

  • According to their website:

    be present merchandise is manufactured entirely in the United States. Most of the manufacturing is done within a ten mile radius of the be present headquarters in Denver, Colorado

    They also have a way for fans to submit photos of themselves wearing the pants (showing different shapes and sizes of people). They may not have all 100% eco clothing, but work to have an ecological business which is evidenced by their creating products w/ 100% organic cotton and bamboo.

    Good for Drishti! They are a great store with great products they researched and stood behind. I’d suggest Tara Stiles consider modeling for them if she wants to support a company that stands for the positive aspects of yoga.

  • In response to Drishti: great list. I would say Hard Tail comes close to “objectifying”…using models with conventionally-“perfect” bodies. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2008/08/premium-yogawear-hard-tails-founder-dick-cantrell-blows-the-doors-off-of-made-in-usa-fashion/

    As for Be Present, I’ve known them for years, and unlike any of other above brands they go out of their way to support, via advertising, independent yoga media (which is what keeps Yoga Dork, elephantjournal.com, etc. going). Advertising is what keeps us producing quality, sincere, fun content such as this post—which gives birth to such meaningful and illuminating discussions as this one. Long live the Yoga Dork!

  • Then there is always the YogaDawg collection. They are sure to make you the talk of the studio. Unfortunitely, mens fashion only available at this time!


    Sorry YogaDork, I couldn’t resist. I’ll leave now…:)

  • Tara Stiles

    Hey Nancy. I totally suggested my favorite drawstring pants and boy beater. I even brought it to Dov’s house! I forgot it there too. It’s still sitting on his toaster in the kitchen! Thankfully I loaded up at the factory on clothes for the year. (thanks Maria!) Having the experience as a model for so long, and even on the “yoga-modeling” side of that what is practical and realistic is hardly ever photographed in the advertisements. Designers I’ve worked with always show their most outrageous piece in the ad and it gets people excited and they come in and end up buying a simple black dress. I’ve done Stella McCartney ads in tops with non-functional straps and dangley things going every which way and smoke pumped in in the background. But that’s their feel and branding. AA has their own style and even though they push the sexual edge, at least they aren’t boring. I was instructed to wear chicken cutlets “fake boobs” for a massive apparel brand that wanted me to have a big chest under their tank while I was doing a yoga pose. Hardly functional and sexually passive aggressive, but again, went along with their branding. I also did a lot of my typical yoga moves for Dov, dancer, one of my faves, but he picked this pose, which was his idea, and I think it makes a pretty interesting ad.

  • Tara, so glad you thought to suggest that and to have yourself demonstrating a beautiful natarajaasana. Frankly think it’s Dov and AA’s loss that they didn’t do it. AA could have shown how even in sweatpants one can look graceful. I guess I see your point about working within the confines of the employer, perils of the job perhaps.

  • Natarajasana doh! can’t spell!

  • admin

    wow, totally blown away by the great discussion. thanks so much to everyone for all your input and thoughtful conversation. And huge thanks to Tara for shedding light from behind the scenes. Chicken cutlets? yikes.

    Totally agree that it’s really hard to be “perfect” in your practice, for companies or even us wee citizens. We do the best we can right? Thanks for bringing up brands that actually are worth the mention for good choices in yoga clothes.

    And just for the record, Waylon has a point about advertising, but YD hasn’t quite seen that fruit yet 😉
    (shout out to drishti though.. high-five! and to we’ar another great clothing brand, all the way from New Zealand, and graciously advertising on YD)

    YogaDawg you know you’re welcome to wag your tail around here whenever you want.

  • I love Hard Tail pants. And while their ads use the typical “yogini” that we are so used to seeing in yoga advertising, i.e., the skinny young white chick, I don’t think their ads are worse than any other yoga clothes company ads. ESPECIALLY when Ana Brett consistently poses in hot pants!

  • Matt

    Women’s yoga outfits are sexy. C’mon, like we subscribe to Yoga Journal to learn poses! Why do you think they have models repeating the provocative downward dog so often? It’s Maxim for us guys that are embarrassed to be reading that mag in front of our wives. Don’t make me feel bad about this too!

    Btw, thanks for the AA ad archive. Rowrr!

  • Keri

    Great and interesting discussion here! AA ads have always creeped me out – they are overtly sexual and blatantly objectify women in a soft porn way that Hard Tail does not. AA’s models seem either not to truly understand their level of objectification, just don’t care, or care but they need the modeling dollars. It is disappointing that an older yogini falls into this category as well. In my opinion, a lady mounting a couch is ANYTHING but interesting.

  • Keri, I’m with you (and the others who object to the AA ad).

    I know models don’t always get a say in what they wear (or don’t wear). But I don’t think these kind of ad campaigns should be defended.

    Personally I get annoyed by ads that don’t advertise the actual product they’re meant to be selling. AA yoga apparel… where, exactly? Certainly not in the ad. And a model wearing a white leotard does not get me interested in looking into their gear in more detail.

    Instead, I tend to rely on photos of the actual thing I’d be buying, and hey, even prices. Although I understand with the more high-end ads, that prices aren’t usually displayed.

    The more we women buy into our own objectification, the less likely it is that anything will change.

  • As far as good companies, I can’t believe no one has mentioned Blue Canoe. They’ve been doing lovely organic-fiber yoga clothing since before American Apparel even imagined jumping on this bandwagon.

    There is FAR more to sustainability than making clothes locally. A company that sews in L.A. but systematically engages in sexual harassment (the latest is that AA wants to fire “ugly” women, and Dov’s practices are well documented — just google “american apparel sexual harassment” ) — is no better than a company working overseas and exploiting its workers. If Dov were treating gays or African Americans this way, it would be an outrage, but because it’s just women, you all seem to be okay with it. It’s ironic to me that all the concern about fair trade — about TREATING WORKERS FAIRLY — doesn’t seem to apply to American women if it’s all sexy-hawt enough for you. Why is misogyny so acceptable?

  • I stumbled across this post by accident, but just wanted to offer another option for eco-friendly Yoga wear, check out http://www.greenappleaactive.com for beautiful organic luxury active wear……

    I think the photo is beautiful, sexy, and gives a refreshing take on the traditional image of a “yogi”.

    I was raised in the yoga/meditation community and think sometimes there is a bit too much narrow-mindedness regarding sexuality in favor of spirituality. We are beings with both by nature and I think it is quite freeing as a woman to be able to celebrate both…

    Blessings & Light~

  • I wish all women would wear leotards and tights like the woman above.

  • Update: Dov Charney’s Tear-Stained Letter to His 1,500 Laid-off Employees

    Buy more yoga cloths and save job. Interesting he trashes Obama also.


  • What a interesting topic.

    Now as far as that advertisement, I agree with a post earlier in this thread, when was the last time any yoginis sported around in a body suit and see through stockings/leggings. I haven’t seen that since the late 80’s. Either way, Tara looks good. Tara, you could model my clothes if ya like 🙂

    Personally I’m not a big fan of AA. The quality is not what I would wear nor would I have them manufacture or private label my clothing line, but they are a reputable company that has very good customer service.

    Now for Hardtail, those advertisements are designed and targeting their specific market. Look at the asanas in the advertisements. Many practitioners can not do that (I am also a teacher). Larger women (most, not all) do not wear clothing that is very tight, vibrant and brings attention to the body. I know because I am a yoga couture designer. My designs are similar to Hardtail, Shining Shakti and Jaidye and as much as larger women say they want them, when I have made them available at yoga studios, they sit on the rack.

    I too also agree that sexuality is part of who we are. I celebrate my sexuality. Many want to play that down because we are practicing spirituality. Well if we are truly living a yogic life then we would also practice aparigraha. We don’t need fancy yogawear to practice. As Tara stated in a different way, basics go a long way.

    I definitely will be watching this thread and this blog. Kind of digging it. So glad I stumbled across it. Thank you to all who contributed.

    Namaste mitraHs
    Please excuse typo errors

  • john nair

    Yoga is a way of life, a conscious act, not a set or series of learning principles. The dexterity, grace, and poise you cultivate, as a matter of course, is the natural outcome of regular practice. You require no major effort. In fact trying hard will turn your practices into a humdrum, painful, even injurious routine and will eventually slow down your progress. Subsequently, and interestingly, the therapeutic effect of Yoga is the direct result of involving the mind totally in inspiring (breathing) the body to awaken. Yoga is probably the only form of physical activity that massages each and every one of the body’s glands and organs. This includes the prostate, a gland that seldom, if ever, gets externally stimulated in one’s whole life.

  • Joe

    Wow don’t know how this came up when I was searching for yoga clothes ha. Well anyway does anyone know about http://www.mikayogawear.com/. I really liked their website and my friend ordered from them and said their clothes are really high quality. Second opinion?

  • alyse

    wow. bitter with jealousy, much? good lord. if you really were an adherent to yoga, you’d practice a whole heck of a lot more non-judgment. pretty ironic, i’d say, claiming some type of superior knowledge of yoga when you can’t practice one of its most basic tenets.

    sounds like you need lots and lots more time on the mat, sweetheart. next time you’re there, try remembering the precept of “namaste” – “the light in me honors the light in you”. from the looks of it, you don’t have the faintest clue what that’s about.

  • Mary

    Wow alyse. How ironic that you are doing exactly what you claim Yogadork is doing. She is expressing her views about an ad. You are personally attacking a person. Shame on you.

  • Santa Monica fitness buff

    FYI….Most of the young women and occasional young man featured in the Hard Tail ads are students/teachers at Yogaworks in Santa Monica. Many of the ads feature Cortney Cantrell, daughter of Dick Cantrell the CEO of Hard Tail.

  • vanessa

    i appreciate Ananda Bhavani’s comment and agree–these are beautiful photos and opening to our whole selves as humans means embracing the divine energy of sexuality. to be embodied is to be alive to sensation and why not express the joy and pleasure of that embodiment. we don’t have to be austere to prove our worthiness….all of life is IT, no matter how it expresses itself. sexuality is IT. these poses. all of it…it’s one person’s choice on how to express herself in that moment. wonderful! and the viewer can connect in admiration and appreciation for the sensuality of the image.

  • vanessa

    p.s. it’s interesting to see so many yogis and yoginis issuing judgments here.

  • The essence of yoga is liberation, and that includes liberation from dogma. There is Western dogma and there is Eastern dogma, and they’re both cages. Tara Looks great; there’s no need to put her, or ourselves, in a cage called “yoga dogma”. We do our best to liberate all sentient beings, and if we can’t do that we do all we can to make them happy. Keep it simple. And yes, yoga can be simple, enjoyable, and just a bunch of nice stretches, or it can be a totally absorbing physical, mental, and spiritual practice. It’s an individual choice, and either choice is right. The main thing is just to practice.

  • If I had a body that looked like Tara’s, I’d wear a white leotard and white ‘see-through stockings’ every time I could, no matter what the decade.

  • Carol

    Who are any of us to judge? No true yoga practitioner would. I have never done her type of yoga but she sounds like a fortunate soul who is doing good work.

  • Sadhurishi

    Great looking woman with the body to show it – nothing wrong about that. It’s about time that someone has broken this sacred cult thinking of Yoga and helps it into mainstream. A look over to India (!) will show, that they have long left behind the chanting and holy approach for the physical reasons. Not everybody is or wants to be a Yogi in that holy sense, and thank God, not everybody is. So if with an ad like this, more people can be made pay attention, even if only because of a beautiful girl, so be it – but some of them may just hang in and do something for their bodies with Tara’s Yoga and AA’s clothes (what do I care). Great thing, do your thing, girl!

  • sheila brands

    Tara is rock solid. The controversy comes from the small minded. Put your energy on feeding the hungry or solving some of the worlds real problems.

  • Kristinn

    There are a lot of companies that are making their clothes in the US, in responsible manner using responsible methods. Anjali Clothing for example, makes all of its clothing in small batches in small factories in Los Angeles in New Jersey with people they know. There are several other companies that have chosen to stay in the US even though having “little kiddies” ( as Tara put it ) do the sewing, certainly adds huge profits to the bottom line. http://www.anjaliclothing.com

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  • Veron

    Did not really like this outfit. It seems that pantyhose with a swimsuit is not very modern look. This calling outfit can only be used at home, in this case it is suitable. I think it’s unseemly to go to yoga class like that. For yoga I also use fashionable clothes from this store – https://yoga-eco-clothing.com It is made of 100% organic fabrics (Eucalyptus and Beech fibers). Looks at the same time modestly and sexually.

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