We are referring to this as the lululemon/Ayn Rand predic-redic-ament. The issue has transcended the yoga world, reaping commentary from news outlets like NPR to Forbes.com. In the yoga community, though, the kerfluffle has stayed mostly amongst perturbed practitioners and consumers, until clothing brand Lucy Activewear decided to step onto the proverbial soapbox and speak their minds.
Via their facebook page:
Dear John (Galt),
It’s over between us.
At first I loved hearing you talk about rising above mediocrity and pushing yourself to be your best. I felt like I had found a kindred spirit who, like me, strived to do my best and achieve great things. But then I realized you’re only out for yourself.
You used to say “friends are more important than money.” But now I know you only meant it when it was convenient for you. I see things differently. My success would be meaningless if it didn’t include others. So I’m going to go on with my fantastic life of fulfilling work, friends and making a difference…without you. I hope you are able to find what you’re looking for. Oh, and by the way, your yoga pants are too tight.
Hasta la vista,
lucy Activewear. Equality, goodwill and stretch pants for all! www.lucy.com
Hm. Strategic move? Sucker punch? Either way, we’re curious if this sitch will open doors for other non-lulus to step into the light. What’s your take?
- NPR: Lululemon’s ‘John Galt’ Un-Yoga Like Criticism, Our Sad Mediocrity and Tea Party’s Ron Paul
- Forbes: Lululemon Greatness Quest, Ayn Rand Ideology Deeply Disrespectful, Dangerous
- World’s Oldest Yoga Teacher Still Teaches Yoga, Sets World Record
- Donna Karan Launches Zen Therapy, Holistic Care, Yoga at UCLA Hospital
- Preggerasana: Mind, Body, Breath and Spirit of Prenatal Yoga
Tired of the whole thing. Tired of reading about it from every “yoga” resource on my feed for the past two weeks.
I don’t get all the hoopla about this. Every major corporation has political and ideological ties, only a lot of them express don’t express that out in the open. How many corps have donated to political campaigns or paid certain political figures sketchy “consulting fees”? 90%? More?
At least lululemon is putting their beliefs out in the open so we can all make a choice about whether or not we want to participate. I bought something at a lulu store right when the bags first came out, and I asked if they could give me a different bag. And they did. Simple as that. It’s not like they’re forcing people to become walking billboards for Ayn Rand’s philosophy.
People are acting like lululemon is trying to and, more frighteningly, has the power to indoctrinate people to a particular ideology. If you’re headed to your local over-priced stretchy pants retailer to get your philosophical and moral guidance, it might be time to re-evaluate some things.
And finally, lulu is a marketing machine. You don’t think the marketing wizards in Vancouver knew this would cause a stir and get people talking and blogging about their brand? It seems to me people are playing right into the game by continuing to talk about this ad nauseum. Want to make sure lulu doesn’t ever pull a stunt like this again? Don’t give them free press for doing it.
Enough already. Lucy activewear, given that stunt, is cut from the same cloth as Lululemon….oh yeah, the one that best sells overpriced yoga clothes. This is not a big deal…. Can we move on to the part where yoga changes the world now?
I am actually far more appalled by what Lucy did here, jumping on the free press bandwagon to dogpile on lulu and take advantage of an opportunity to “kick them when they’re down,” (they’re not down, they never have been, this is just marketing, but it’s still very opportunistic of Lucy).
Lulu-bashing is so old hat and tiresome. The fact that a “yoga” blog has an entire tag dedicated to “lululemon” (as opposed to, say, “props” or “materials” or “clothing” in general) is enough of a sign that this isn’t really about yoga anymore.
If you love their pants (I personally do and actually do believe they are worth what I have paid for them, once compared to clothing from several other retailers that has seams coming out or that fades after three washings), great. If you hate them, don’t want to pay $$$ for them, great, don’t do it. But could we all please remember that these are retailers of overpriced, stretchy pants, not gateways to samadhi. So what if Lulu wants to put a line from Atlas Shrugged on their bags? At least, as an above commenter said, they’re being honest and upfront about their mission and inspiration.
Is it somehow better for a for-profit corporation to put Patanjali quotes all over their bags? Isn’t using the yoga sutras in a marketing scheme missing the point of yoga far more than putting a line from a book that has inspired many businesspersons and CEOs, including those from Whole Foods and Urban Outfitters?
Having been a frequent buyer of both brands in the same size, Lucy’s clothes are just as tight as lululemon’s, so that little dig at the end was just pathetic. We can sit around and gripe about how inane lululemon’s prices are, but what amuses me lately is how many retailers are jumping ON the $90 yoga pants bandwagon. Most recently I’ve seen $75-90 yoga pants sold by Athleta, Abercrombie and Fitch, Victoria’s Secret, and now even Gaiam.
At the end of the day, anyone who believes you need particular special “yoga” pants from *any* retailer,” whether from Prana and Hard Tail or Old Navy and Target, is missing the point of “yoga.” We buy those pants because we like the way they look, fit, feel, make us feel, etc. They are no more going to make me a better yogini than they are going to make me an objectivist. They’re just. Pants.
P.S. I don’t do the boycott thing, but this move actually does leave a bad taste in my mouth about Lucy, and I actually don’t think I’ll be buying from there anymore. Ironic, perhaps?
Both of these comments are wonderful and perfectly to the point. Thank you.
“If you’re headed to your local over-priced stretchy pants retailer to get your philosophical and moral guidance, it might be time to re-evaluate some things.” Lululemon’s popularity is a small symptom of a larger issue in North American yoga. Which is complicated to lay out, but comes down to the fact that yoga is often treated in the end as another product or program for sale. And that how yoga teacher’s teach is often dictated by “market desires,” as opposed to the directives and focus that come from spiritual wisdom. While it might be irritating to keep hearing about these silly bags, perhaps you all might want to consider the deeper issues that those bags symbolize.
Yes, in a way, it’s the “gateway theory” … if companies have to have these philosophies, it’s best they keep it to themselves. Particularly if they are publicly traded companies …
If the consumer tolerates the bag, they will tolerate further indoctrination …
This will make mainstream yoga an elitist sport … worse than skiing …
Home practitioners have been looked down upon enough already … as have the spiritual elements …
What next, Kirtan Karaoke Contests?
I don’t like the bags. I would be embarrassed to carry one. I thought it was a terrible book! It was simplistic and I felt by the end like I had been beaten black and blue by her simplistic world view which she expressed with none of the subtlety of a great writer. That anyone would hold Ayn Rand in their hearts or minds as a role model or philosophical guru expresses a naiveté that is in keeping with what I have seen in many successful, healthy, smart, fit, wealthy, good looking people. They believe that their success has nothing to do with their good fortune at having been born beautiful and European or North American, white, male, rich, smart, etc. They believe it is a moral reward for how “good” in effect how “excellent” they have chosen to be. I understand this well as I have been the beneficiary of it. In spite of coming from a broken home and growing up on welfare and never graduating high school I have found success because I am fortunate. I am smart. I am white. I am American. I have blond hair and blue eyes and I’m thin and reasonably attractive and some of the best jobs I’ve ever been given I know for a fact I got because I present well. I look professional and hard working and all that stuff. Sure, I also work hard, and think things through and make good choices, but I’ve thrived in society not because of my own personal “excellence” but because society favors people like me. While there are remarkable exceptions to this rule, we all know good looking smart people who never get anything done and the opposite of that story happens sometimes too, the truth is that there is MORE to the story than your personal excellence and that’s what Ayn Rand missed in her simplistic world view. Ms. Rand of course was born to a wealthy family, was white, attractive and educated, worked in Hollywood and knew lots of rich successful people. She was likely a very “excellent” person in many ways, but her belief that she “deserved” all that was given her because she worked so much harder than anyone else was misguided. I am reminded of the words of the singer Pink:
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took it away
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you ’bout hard work
You don’t know nothing ’bout hard work
I’ve come to follow this thing from the “we really dislike Ayn Rand” corner of the internet.
That said, I’m not a yoga-er. I always thought I was too fat for yoga (I know, I’m not. And I’m talking to my therapist about it). But this has given me a name for the ‘Cute Ass’ wing of yoga which initially repelled me. I know this is my own venting, and I’m not going to try to draw a line between the pseudo-philosophy of activewear retailers and my own body image issues (as fun as that would be).
That said, I’m not buying from either of the above retailers. I don’t have the money (or Nietzschean will to power!) for Lulu and Lucy apparently doesn’t make men’s clothes. So, moot.
Thanks for letting me rant.
And this is what their first bag really means:
I once went to a studio that made me feel less-than due to my size. They had plenty of Lululemmings among their students. Of course, they were young and immature, and have lost a lot of students along the way since they started … lol …
Annie Ory, I think your ability at self-promotion counts for at least as much of your success as your looks and carriage might …
But I just have to say this about the lulus (it’s on the bag): diva, diva, diva, diva, diva ….
Maybe we won’t have to worry. Financiers are starting to predict Lululemon’s potential fall, and they haven’t mentioned this, from what I’ve seen. Maybe a double whammy?
FWIW, YD’s coverage seems pretty fair and fun to me. It’s definitely a part of the yoga experience in the U.S., even if you don’t wear any yoga pants.
Which may not sound like I mean it to…
Annie Ory, I love your comment. I think you embody the yoga teachings beautifully by acknowledging where you have benefited by the prejudices of our society. We all need to work to overcome Avidya, because it blinds us to the struggles others face. This will help us cultivate compassion for all beings.
I think yoga practice for us modern folks is not only about self transformation, but also about the transformation of society. So the deeper message of the Lulu kerfuffle is to honor our interconnectedness with all beings, and reject a mindset that promotes selfishness and indifference to the suffering of others.