Have you heard all the ruckus about sexy naked yoga ads? It’s a fracas of bodily proportions! The debate’s been raging for a week, so if you’re sick and tired of it by now we understand. Who wants to talk about body image, sexuality and yoga? Ptew! What started as a murmur was brought to howling debate after Judith Hanson Lasater wrote a letter (see below) to the editor of Yoga Journal, published in the September ’10 issue, expressing her confusion, sadness and overall disappointment with the status of YJ’s approach to selling ads that sell yoga products.
Some of you may recall the now infamous Lululemon “Camel Toe” ad plastered on the back cover of the magazine a few months ago, invoking a response of outrage alongside giggles and complacency. Funny, even Yoga Journal itself used nudity for their Florida Conference ad you can see in the same Sept. issue Ms. Lasater’s letter ran in.
We were awaiting the official response from Yoga Journal brass, well because they’re the major focus in this discussion, even if exemplified (and not necessarily Kathryn Budig whose naked body grace’s the Toesox ads and who has been the target of negativity and/or support in the matter), but you know what? Who cares what they have to say? We want to know what YOU think. The readers, the practitioners, the targeted consumers. Who speaks for you? Because people, magazines, maybe even advertisers will listen. If nothing else, at least we yogadorks will.
Have you noticed other ads that are TOO sexy? American Apparel LOVES to tap that sexy yoga ass in ads. Is it perverse? A double standard on men/women nakedness? Should Yoga Journal be held to a higher level of ethics? Is it just business? “Sex sells” capitalism? Are we being prude? Is it art?
ps. this is yoga journal’s 35th anniversary. Is this a harbinger of changing tides?
Read the actual letter (scanned in from the physical mag that interestingly enough no one seemed to have), followed by official responses from Judith Hansen Lasater, Toesox, and Lululemon.
JH Lasater via an interview on it’s all yoga, baby:
For me it is not about the nakedness; rather, it is about using bodies to distract us instead of using ads that inspire us to practice yoga, to live in the present and to be open to compassion and grace in each moment. I am sad when I see yoga in general, and many yoga classes in particular, becoming about distraction and entertainment.
ToeSox Inc. founder/president Joe Patterson’s response via elephantjournal:
For the record, our intention has been to associate ourselves with inspiring, beautiful artwork that celebrates both artists’ work and showcases them in a forum that reaches many. We do this because we are patrons of the artistic efforts of Jasper Johal, Kathryn Budig and Carrie Macy. The ancillary benefit is that the audience is simply aware of our product. We do not try to oversell in the ads and clutter the art.
We do not equate nudity to sex and selling sex can be done without nudity. Sex is not our intention and the proof is shown through the mindful gaze of the artist and the positioning of poses. There is no coquettish look at the camera or wink to the audience. We aren’t using nudity for nudity’s sake. The campaign is about minimalism and expression. Each month features a different pose, each with thoughtful use of lighting, depth, and composition. Images are not just thrown together, but instead orchestrated with genuine heart and love of the human body and its strength.
Lululemon response via twitter DM:
Thanks for inviting us to participate in this spirited debate! lululemon focuses on inspiring our guests to live healthier lives through athletic pursuits, so we graciously decline participation in this conversation.
Reader response via elephantjournal:
art trip Two points:
1. Stop with the “this is art” already. This is not art. This is commercial photography. Calling this art is like calling what she is doing in that ad Tantric yoga. Calling this art is an insult to artists.
2. To those calling this courageous, it is not. This is the oldest and cheapest advertising trick in the book. Using a hot young babe. Courageous would be to use an old naked women, or a naked male of any age or a person on any age or color other than white.
Earlier… American Apparel Taps that Yoga Ass