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‘Precious’ Gabourey Sidibe: “If Yoga Was a Person, I’d Stab Them”

in YD News, Yoga Feuds, Yoga Pop

gabourey-sidibieYowch! What? Gabourey Sidibie may have portrayed a kid from the school of hard knocks, but the real-life actress is living it up! In between photo shoots and high fashion makeovers the Precious star is reveling in her newfound fame and why not? But in the upcoming issue of Harper’s Bazaar Sidibie not only dishes on acting and stardom, she shares thoughts on her weight, and HATING yoga.

Sidibe, 26, tells Bazaar she’s joining a gym, but you won’t see her in a yoga studio anytime soon. “I hate yoga so much. Like, if yoga was a person, I’d stab them.” (context: a discussion around Kate Moss, skinniness and yoga).

Harsh! At least she doesn’t need a self-esteem boost. Here’s the thing though, you know what this means don’t you? Yoga’s image needs a revamp stat! We’ve had multiple discussions about skinny white women as the poster children for yoga in America. Obviously this is not realistic, and frankly, it’s distressing and sad. We need to get the message out that yoga really is for everyone! So who wants to approach Gabby with a new perspective on the practice?? Yoga Journal? ahem.

[USA Today]

EarlierYoga Activism: New Missions in Great Work for Good Cause, Yoga for Everybody

Fat? Yoga No Longer a Four Letter Word to Plus-Sized

28 comments… add one

  • Amen sister! Yoga’s image does need a revamp, and for more than just business or popularity.

    Yoga is a transformational healing tool. Research has shown that yoga is incredibly beneficial for those overcoming trauma – so much so that the nationally recognized Trauma Center at the JRI – organized by Dr. Bessell Vander Kolk – instituted a yoga program. http://www.traumacenter.org/clients/yoga_svcs.php

    Yoga is also beneficial for healing binge eating disorder. Studies have shown that yoga has a beneficial effect on reducing symptoms and behaviors. Binge eating disorder is alarmingly on the rise in all populations, and mostly going untreated, but particularly in minority populations (according to the monitor/journal of the APA).

    If yoga is seen as only for skinny white women, then those who can benefit from this healing tool are missing out.

    So get on it Yoga Journal!

  • Mik

    Absolutely!! The yoga image needs to get revamped so that no one is intimidated or questions if they fit the profile of a yogi or not. On a slightly different note from image, I was in a
    studio one time and was appalled to think anyone could think or comment that yoga is for the middle class and how to change this?! I guess it is a fair question, but I know many yogis who are not in this social strata and have been practicing for quite some time. Yoga for everyone and all!!

  • I think I’m fortunate that I got into yoga just as it was starting to get huge, but before one was confronted everywhere with photos of extremely fit, young, and almost exclusively female practitioners. Thus, I didn’t feel too out of place as a stocky (white) guy approaching middle age wandering into the yoga studio for the first time. Nowadays…I don’t know if I would, and can certainly understand Ms. Sibidie’s attitude.

  • I’d love to give Ms. Sidibie a yoga class (as long as she doesn’t bring a weapon…)! I know people who have had bad first experiences and ended up lovin’ it. C’mon Gabourey, try again!

    Yours in Yoga,
    Brooks

  • AJ

    She needs to check out classes like this one: Big A#%! Yoga
    (at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis)

    Yoga is for EVERYONE!

  • AJ

    Also check out Ogden, the Inappropriate Yoga Guy (on Yoga Journal online). Very funny.
    http://www.yogajournal.com/ogden/?comments=1&comment_page=15

  • After reading this post, I find myself wishing so much that Gabby loved yoga. Wouldn’t she be a great ambassador for making yoga accessible to everyone? Then again, one of the reasons I appreciate Gabby is for her honesty. So I suppose I wouldn’t want her to change just to make my own wishes come true.

    In my classroom, where I teach reading to teenage boys in a juvenile justice setting, I try to bring a little bit of yoga to them every day, whether it’s via breathing, a simple pose or two, or even just modeling ahimsa on a daily basis. Talk about a subset of the population dealing with trauma. These guys need yoga. Is there anyone who doesn’t?

  • As a large, woman of color, I never thought that my body would be able to hold poses for any length of time. I absolutely love Yoga. It has centered me and allowed me to overcome many anxiety creating fears. I think her thoughts were made out of lack of personal knowledge. Even if she tried it, then she should go to Yoga for Bigger Bodies program. And while Yoga Journal should have a diverse group of Yoga models to reflect the millions of practitioners, I don’t worry about the skin color or ethnicity of the models. I just want to be as flexible and focused as them.

  • …ya thats kind of sad actually. We can hope that she changes her mind and I think all it would take would be finding the right teacher. I’ve sometimes felt annoyed by the walking, talking yoga sportswear ads- headed to class with their 400dollar yoga mat bag…
    exactly what does she dislike about it?
    I think it was more the context of the discussion that evoked her response.

  • ummm, i can see why she’d say that. Sometimes I have similar feelings- depending on the class-blog-magazine that i’m attending-reading. I’m really tired of seeing the same ole’ thing- stereotypes etc.
    and i gotta say, despite wanting to change yoga’s image- the previous post was titled “cougar yoga”- not exactly empowering for older women to practice. although i get it was a snarky post, and that this blog is tongue in cheek- it still carries negative connotations about how we view older yogis…

    i wish she did love yoga, but then yoga isn’t for everyone :)

  • Y’know, this whole yoga = skinny white chick thing really isn’t my experience of yoga at all! For sure, here in Australia yoga classes are still predominated by women, but women of all shapes, sizes and colours! Certain styles of yoga (hello Vinyasa/Bikram) seem to attract more men than others. And I have to say I’ve never subscribed to Yoga Journal or even the Australian version. And I don’t shop at Lululemon.

    So, I can’t say I really understand what this is all about. In my Guru’s school, we have a relatively even mix of men and women and people from all over the world! I myself will never be that archetypal skinny chick – I’m built way too voluptuously and curvy for that. And there’s others like me in our school, too. Perhaps we are not the “norm”.

    I dunno. All I can say is that if Gabourey is feeling stabby about anything, then yeah, she really DOES need some yoga. I’m with Brooks – I’ve met people who’ve been won over by trying a class. Often, people who are dead against yoga have never even tried it and are basing their feelings on misconceptions only.

    All that said, if it is Yoga Journal’s habit to fill their pages with skinny white chicks, then yeah, they desperately need to reconsider the image they’re projecting. The big thing in Australia at the moment is our local supermodels willingly doing photoshoots for magazine covers without any re-touching or airbrushing. All in the name of promoting the idea that natural (whatever you look like) is beautiful.

  • I’m with Svasti: natural IS beautiful!

  • Adam Pincott

    Whatever you like is beautifull, why wont ppl realise yoga isnt just for skinny ppl, ive started up again…slowly but surely!

  • i feel like i’ve noticed more diversity in size these days in yj… or maybe just wishful thinking? anyone else?

  • yogini3

    Was it an ad for Kripalu in yj? Emma, I think you got yj confused with the actual Kripalu catalogue … Now, there’s a periodical that has pictures of all ages, sizes, colors, shapes and genders!

  • I wonder if I’m allowed to comment since I’m a skinny, white woman!

  • yogini3

    Good. Be scared! Yoga can be for regular folks, too. Not either yuppies or rape victims or prison inmates, and nothing in between.

  • boodiba

    OK I’ll just content myself with looking at my rippling muscles…

  • JC

    Revamp the image of yoga…that phrase in itself requires contemplation. The teaching of yoga asks us to be still and not waver in our practice.

    While I dream of everyone loving and practicing yoga in their own ways, I don’t expect there never to be people oppose to the teaching. I don’t care how Ms. Sidibie feel about anything or anyone, but stabbing? such a violent description, thought, statement should not be met with answers from this community that implies we’ve invited such hostility. Not even the skinny white women on the covers of magazines (which itself is another generalization).

    For gathering spotlight for a movie that shows the human strength of emerging from the darkest wrongdoings, I wish Ms. Sidibie expressed her honesty with a grain of non-harming. Honesty with harmful intention or consequences in not responsible.

    And as part of a vast, beautiful yoga community, I, an Asian, average weight, 30 something year old woman, is not seeing the sizes or colors of those who are on the mats, or on the cover of the magazines. I see the intentions of growth, service, and love.

    Finally, we are called the seekers, therefore we look for the gurus, the teaching, the practice. Not the other way around. If individuals like Ms. Sidibie had such strong opinions of something that I assume she doesn’t truly understand, she is not seeking for the light at this time. Are they really the ones we should be catering to?

  • yogini3

    @boodiba

    I look at my little rolls, my white hair, and my 3-figure bank account and figure … ahh, these are OK… There but for the grace of God …
    You’d get me mad if it weren’t for my strong home practice, and a studio that appreciates what little business I give them…
    (better than having just a handful of regulars, natch … bottom-line wise)
    But it sure takes someone from the performing arts who isn’t Gwyneth Paltrow to call BS on all the posturing (pun intended) …

  • boodiba

    Why would I get mad at you? Naaah… I happen to love my physique but there’s nothing wrong with that. Better than self loathing! People with all body types should love themselves.

  • Not sure why the controversy exists around this. Yoga isn’t really capable of having an “image” and doesn’t, really, except that which we, as individuals, impose on it. When Gabourey Sidibie talks about hating yoga, she’s actually talking about the image that Kate Moss gives yoga. Or, more accurately, the image that models like Moss give anything they are perceived as representing. None of them, or us, really represent yoga so it’s going to survive. And aren’t we grateful for that?! Yoga can take care of itself if we let it. It doesn’t need our help. But we need its help, clearly, if whatever this article brings up for us is offensive or troubling. My suggestion is that if that is the case, we might need to expand our perception of what yoga is in the first place. Then go practice and let go of it. As for me, I’m going to go watch Ms. Sidibie in Precious. (I hear she’s wonderful). That’ll be my yoga for the day.

  • aquababie

    as a woman of African descent, I don’t see the diversity on the mat, in the studios and in publications. and since I live down south, we probably have less diversity than other areas ( if I had to take a guess). I do my best to relate to other black people the benefits of yoga. I’ve practiced for almost 12 years and have been teaching for 8. the majority of my students are white and I’m only one of two black teachers they will meet in our studio. when I do workshops, there are few people who look like me there. that has never deterred me from dedicating myself or spreading the word about the love and blessings I’ve received all these years in yoga.

    also tack on the fact that yoga is not seen as an activity that larger people can do, and it’s no wonder why ms. sidibie feels the way she does. while I’m not a large woman at all, I am larger than the average woman that you see in yoga ads and media. I feel like I’m an ambassador to reach both worlds….black people and those people who aren’t represented normally.

    sorry about the length of my comment. and I appreciate you having this great site where we can discuss such things :)

  • Somewhere along the line the people at YJ (and other yoga businesses) have decided that we, the dedicated yoga students and teachers who care to read about yoga monthly, want to see beautiful, skinny people do impressive yoga poses. And probably we do want to see that (something bendy for our ego-selves to strive for) – but we don’t want to see ONLY that. And the more we discuss it, the more we show up for class in all our natural, beautiful glory, the more we offer our yoga practice to people who’ve never tried it – the more likely it is that something will change.

    I truly believe that an individual will find yoga when he or she needs it. And at that time, regardless of who’s on the cover of YJ that month, the practice will get into their hearts and their life will be changed in some small (or big) way.

  • Yoga’s image varies by context, whether chic uptown studio, university gym, YMCA, community center, Iyengar studio versus Bikram studio, etc.

    I flit among a variety of contexts (I am a spy, after all) and find it all interesting. I’ve realized that you can either buy into the glossy image or not. It’s your choice. The real yoga is untainted.

    Consider all pursuits: There might be a “type” exalted by the media (picture an NBA star: LeBron). But in real life, participants come in all shapes, sizes, and colors (watch any pickup game).

  • Jasmimyoga

    As a size 8/10 with an ample chest and butt, I’m not your average Cover-Girl-looking yoga teacher. After reading this post, I’m thinking it’s my responsibility to get my website up and running with many, many pictures!

    Thanks, YogaDork! Love you!
    - Jasmimyoga
    (Twitter)

  • She’s actually tried it and found it wanting, it’s nothing to do with any ‘image’.

    I suspect her feelings might be about what the first commentor said, the tension of trauma or trauma itself. Although it varies, yoga can bring up physical and mental trauma and that can feel profoundly unpleasant. I also think the Western ‘aesthetic of going for the burn’ i.e pushing yourself and being competitive can linger especially for those who’ve tried to lose weight using exercise.

    I think you have think totally differently about yoga.

    And of course, even then, it doesn’t suit everyone.

  • L

    Wriggles- just to add to your comment… The first time doing yoga is usually also physically unpleasant! Not even bringing up physical trauma, like you said (though of course that can happen), but literally, it hurts and you feel like you’re gonna fall over! At least that was my experience. :)

    But I do think that Gabourey was referring more to the image of yoga, because of the context given to the quote. Yoga’s image does need a serious makeover. I mean Russell Simmons does yoga! And he is very dedicated to veganism and political activism. Why do more people not know about this?? I bet if he was on the cover of Yoga Journal, heads would turn. I know I would buy a copy– maybe even subscribe!

    The media is a powerful tool. The more people are shown that not only white skinny women do yoga, the more this can open more doors for expansion in the yoga community, and awareness of what yoga truly is.

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