It’s the Herbal Essences “Be Everyone You Are” campaign, which is basically to say each of us are made up of many facets and we can not, should not, be defined by just one of them. Also, that we are all utterly confused as to who we are and we just want to look like we’re vegans doing yoga. Call yourself a vegan, but you eat bacon three times a week. Call yourself a yogi, but really you just love the pants and the cool factor attached. This just in: yoga is cool!
Have you seen the ad spot? It goes like this:
“You’re basically a porkitarian.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t really like labels.”
“Except you like to tell people you’re vegan.”
“Well, yeah, that makes me sound like the kind of person who does yoga. And I want people to think I do yoga!”
OK, two things. Firstly, OMG STOP. I know I risk coming off as sounding snotty, but the superficial yoga facade just rubs me the wrong way. It’s part of the reason why I can’t stomach the yoga festival circuit a la Burning Man and why a lot of us keep needing to ground ourselves in positive reality with things like the Yoga and Body Image Coalition and WAWADIA.
Also, the idea of people wanting to look like they practice yoga but don’t actually do it is kind of hilarious and absurd in a way, because yoga is SO cool these days. Or at least the idea of it is. This is both funny and annoying to people who do actually practice yoga regularly and don’t view it so much as a trend, but a valid lifestyle.
It’s also maybe kind of good.
Which leads me to my second point: the ad is clearly tongue in cheek and poking fun at people who dabble and don’t actually commit to lifestyle choices – let’s just call them trenditarians – and honestly, maybe this is OK. Because, really, at the heart of the ad’s message is the fact that people are seriously interested in yoga, they might have even tried it before, and more people across the board are discovering the benefits because of its trendiness that realize they don’t have to look a certain way, have a certain body type, or live exactly by the book. And that’s generally a good thing.
Yoga is probably at its height of popularity right now, so why wouldn’t it be used in a shampoo commercial? In case you forgot, we are talking about a commercial for shampoo, here. Let’s be honest, it is just a shampoo commercial and it is intended to be funny. And maybe I’m getting too deep into it. But if you really want to look at a the context of a culture or society, analyzing and observing its consumer-targeted advertisements is not a bad place to start.
It’s funny, sure, but the ad also highlights a problem. Despite its popularity, there’s something about yoga that still feels like an exclusive club not everyone can participate in, coupled with a passing trend that produced super comfortable pants and sounds really cool to your friends, but won’t last too long. Vegetarianism has seen its fair share of trenditarians for decades. And modern yoga has, too, showing up in pop culture throughout the last 70 years, its hipness ebbing and flowing.
Though the obnoxious factor of the casual yoga name dropper remains, this ad is basically the epitome of yoga’s trendiness and exclusivity problem today. No one likes to be put into a box and defined by the conventions of any particular life choice or belief system, especially not in this digital age – this is America, people! But when it comes down to the real take away from this ad, its comedic intentions and shampoo buying encouragement aside, it’s a real indication of how cool, trendy, totally fashionable, yoga is, but also how ironically exclusionary and inaccessible it still is to so many people, even those who are remain the great pretenders.