Yikes, yikes, yikes. A yoga studio in Santa Barbara, CA thought it would be a good idea to host a “a ghetto fabulous yoga event” reminiscent of a themed frat party. Attendees were encouraged to “Please come dressed in your favorite ghetto fabulous outfit, snap-back caps, corn rows, heavy lip liner or whatever you can dream up,” with a link to a “ghetto fabulous” wikiHow page for ideas. The 90-minute class promised “serious attitude, guaranteed belly laughs and various costumes to be provided,” according to a studio newsletter.
Power of Your Om Yoga in Santa Barbara promoted the event with this copy:
“‘Each month we will be featuring a new funky class…this month let’s get ghetto fabulous! You sport the white tank, roll up one leg of your tight black pants, and we’ll make sure to have a rockin’ playlist bring the bling, lip liner and bandanas….seriously. This class has no extra charge. Just a chance to do something a little whacky.'”
And this image:
(NWA is originally rap group N***as with Attitude)
Really, Santa Barbara? This is not what we had in mind when we talk about yoga being a vehicle for acceptance and tolerance. A flurry of commenters responded with outrage and disappointment.
Via facebook, one commenter wrote: “You should cancel this class and issue a public apology. Or use the class time to have a discussion about racism. Changing the name is, pardon the pun, a form of white-washing. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.”
Another: “The main reason this problem is even arising is because we have white people teaching an art form that originated in the Middle East/India. Like Miley Cyrus twerking, and minstrelsy (yes, you better believe it) they think that doing something ‘ghetto fabulous’ which is mocking and horribly racist, is supposed to be fun. The white mentality hasn’t changed that much, it’s just more subtle and acceptable. I’ll be sure to tell my friends in that area to steer clear of this place for sure.”
Studio owner Adrienne Hengels responded (but we’re still not sure she really gets it):
Thank you all for the eye-opening discussion and I do apologize for offending anyone – those of you that commented, emailed, and anyone else for that matter. The class happened and we are doing other themed classes in the future that may include various types of music/genres and we have made note to focus on the music versus singling out any group of human beings that has the potential to offend others as that was not the intention. I can see how it could be offensive and we do apologize for offending you or anyone.
An apology or a non-apology?
An unsatisfied commenter responded: “Both your original decision and your lack of honest apology are appalling, but neither is as appalling as your willful ignorance as to why this was such a horrible, racist idea.”
Unfortunately, this trend isn’t exclusive to the yoga world (see: Miley Cyrus) and is part of a much bigger issue of ignorance, cultural appropriation and exploitation in the name of entertainment. The saddest part being that some people don’t see this as offensive. Grills, gang signs and gimmicks. We feel like old farts saying this, but hasn’t “trendiness” gone far enough? Can’t it at least stop at the yoga mat? We mean, have fun and stuff, but seriously.
Posted August 28, the same day as the event, this image graced the Power of Your Om facebook page with the caption: “We are ahead of the trends! Twerk has made it into the dictionary. Soon it will be in yoga books- just watch!”
If twerking makes it into the yoga books we might have to pack it in and call it a day. Take us to the cave, BatYogi! Nice knowing you, yds!
The “ghetto” yoga class story has been picked up by some heavy hitting media like Gawker’s Jezebel and New York Daily News over the past few days. We can only hope all the attention and outrage will have a positive outcome wherein lessons are learned.