American Apparel & the Case of the Yoga Model who’s never done Yoga.

Via on Nov 24, 2009

Relephant:

Naked American Apparel (not what you think. Okay, it is, too.)

Triple your bottom line: TOMS Shoes, Endangered Species Chocolate, Newman’s Own.

>  10 Signs you’re a (true) Hipster.

A beginner (and many of us are beginners, and that as Richard Freeman says makes us the best yoga practitioners) can try. Or, we can be too hipster cool to give it a go, and model bad alignment for other young women. That said, this young lady was of course under the direction of American Apparel, and it’s to AA that we offer this little comment.

If you’re gonna model yoga, at least know a bit about how to do it. This young lady’s alignment is gonna send her to the hospital before long—that is, if she practiced yoga, ever, which she clearly. Does. Not.

Which would be fine. But kids everywhere look to AA for what’s cool, and nothing would be cooler than trying. No problem with her being a beginner. No problem with her being less modelly than some (we think that’s great, makes it more accessible). No pre-judgement: but it’d be inspiring to see her try, a bit, instead of going after the disaffected slacker look.

Still, American Apparel’s yoga line is fair labor, and these photos are clearly not overtly sexual, which should please AA’s critics.

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62 Responses to “American Apparel & the Case of the Yoga Model who’s never done Yoga.”

  1. I had the same thought. It's like they're saying, "Okay, we'll get into this money-making machine known as yoga apparel," but we'll be hipster-couldn't-care-less about it."

  2. Greg says:

    You guys notice that the model could do full-lotus? o_o

    • Adrienne says:

      so can my 7 year old son… ;)

    • Annie says:

      Some people are naturally flexible. Being able to do full lotus is, for some people, a result of years of patient practice. For me, it's just a matter of crossing my feet over to my hips. No effort or skill required – not any harder than picking my nose.

  3. Hell, I can do full lotus—for about a minute. With my knee sticking up, just like hers..! Still, kudos!

  4. John Pappas John says:

    *sigh* I used to do a full-lotus at parties and back-roll into one without losing it….or my testicles.

    I can't even hold one now…granted I usually did the trick after a couple of beers. That helped loosen me up.

  5. Eddie Dugan says:

    Ha! I'll continue to support American Apparel but this is Hilarious (and hard to look at)

  6. swati jr* says:

    her urdva dhanurasana isn't too shabby.

    • anon says:

      there is no picture of her in urdhva dhanurasana. if you mean the one where she is in dhanurasana, her head is out of alignment, and her shoulders are jacked up by her ears. so….yeah.

  7. [...] organic, fair labor blanks…well, this one makes it that much more iffy. …And ka-ching, controversy doesn’t hurt this brand, AA thrives on controversy, and all the free ad value it gets out of [...]

  8. Ailgnment's important. So is intent. She's hardly trying in a what vaguely resembles triangle. Look, I suck at yoga. Many of us do. But we don't model unhealthy alignment and half-assed fashionista triangle poses that would make a kindergartener embarrassed.

    Yes, smug.

  9. I personally love 'em.

    • moonring says:

      So I do. I don't know what's up with all this hatha snobbery, but let's not forget that contorting our bodies in strange shapes was originally just to help yogis meditate longer in a single position. The Elephant Journal staff–and many people who practice asana, though not necessarily yoga–are, I believe, putting way too much emphasis on physical alignment. I thought yoga was an all-inclusive, non-competitive thing. I guess we can turn it into anything when we focus just on what our bodies look like, though.

  10. Shanti says:

    I like it, she looks real, human.
    And sometimes being a bad example can be a good thing.
    I've seen many people look like this without knowing that they look like this.

    • Lexi says:

      I totally agree b’cuz this is what I look like on most days. I may not be Gumby bendy or have the perfect allignment but I show up and do so consistently. And I will continue to show up even if other people think I’m rubbish … because when I am present and in the moment, my mind clear and my body humming with energy, the last thing I think about is what other people think of me

    • Kelly says:

      I like it. It's refreshing. It's not intimidating and it's what most people look like when they start yoga. With the internet inundated with FB pictures of people in mind boggling poses it has become commercialized and trendy.

  11. Amy Ippoliti Amy Ippoliti says:

    This is hilarious. 10+ presentation by Elephant.

    I teach an alignment based yoga. And I actually used to get paid hourly to train models at photo shoots in NYC to do yoga poses so they looked like they knew what they were doing.

    The students who get injured from poor alignment in yoga are often referred to teachers like me to get unbroken. So modeling poor alignment is a really a safety hazard! It does not have to be perfect, but something close would help!

  12. R. Hitchcock says:

    This does NOT make me want to buy their clothes. yuk! This DOES make me want to go to more yoga so my poses don't look like that! lol

  13. Yogalova says:

    LOL! This post is great, and the poses are redonk. I highly doubt anyone will be using an AA ad to learn yoga, so calling it a safety hazard is a bit alarmist, IMO.

    Has anyone tried the clothes, though? I'm always on the lookout for cute, functional, and reasonably-priced yoga clothes.

  14. Oh my–. the shot of the girl in the purple yoga pants? So bad!! Just THAT photo alone would make me run the other way and NEVER buy those pants. Wanna see models who REALLY know Yoga? GO to Athleta.com. This girls LOOK amazing. Inspiring, actually :)

    • Yogini5 says:

      Especially the Athleta model with the curly hair.

      But it is obvious that American Apparel is purposely targeted to the demographic that may know much more about keg stands than headstands ….

  15. Diana Mercer diana says:

    you've got to start somewhere.

  16. ryan narayan says:

    looks like she nails lotus pose though…

  17. Yogasquirrel says:

    Bah ha ha

  18. Becca Ramsey says:

    to their credit they did not photoshop her tummy looking normal like the non-model humans in a standing forward fold:) progress!

  19. Andy says:

    i went to the american apparel yoga wear website and in some of the photos, the model seems to be familiar with the postures she's doing, only she keeps turning her head to face the camera! ouch!!

  20. Lindsey says:

    Even beginners need pants!

  21. EJ, you miss the point.

  22. mivox says:

    Myself, I’m glad they didn’t photoshop the wrinkles out of her stomach, or the little pooch over the top of the pants, when she’s bending over. Her form might be lacking, but at least she doesn’t look like an airbrushed Barbie doll!

  23. Yoganana says:

    Apparently, they, American Apparel, got all of your attention…Advertising 101…And besides Yogis and Yogini's it's a good lesson in being non-judgemental…Yoga 101…Let it be and put this to rest…Just saying…

  24. Coco says:

    My "favorite" American Apparel yoga ads are the one where a girl is laying on her stomach, looking at the camera over her shoulder with her legs spread while she holds her ankles in a porn version of Dhanurasana.

    It's very…zen?

  25. Ramini says:

    I think they were aiming for "awkward", so good word choice. There was a time when I used to be scouted for "yoga" ads and I attended auditions and such. I would notice that at the audition there would be three groups: yogis, athlethes who obviously didn't practice yoga, and models who obviously didn't practice yoga. They would audition the models last, so that they could watch the rest of us first. In my experience they always hired the models in the end who were just copying what we did.

    To me the photos are less about yoga and more about typical american apparrel. Funny!

  26. Patricia says:

    Wondering who we can shine the spotlight on and critique next. People say they want real people in ads and when they see a real person they freak. How horrid that they didn't photoshop her pictures too.

  27. Erickaj says:

    She is beautiful. She is human. Yoga is not about the perfect pose.

  28. Barbara says:

    AA knows exactly what it is doing. It is part of their "look" to go for things that look awkward and imperfect, and it is also part of their plan to annoy people and draw attention with ads that look a little "off." These models are posing this way on purpose. It worked, people have noticed. AA does have a reputation for what are generally regarded as progressive business practices, but they are less than perfect, and have received plenty of criticism as well, especially in the area of sexism. Their image is carefully crafted, both in terms of their garments, and in terms of their business model.

  29. Piotr says:

    I think that it is not the poor model's fault. It's people who created the photo shoot should be a little ashamed.

  30. Shellzncheez says:

    Im not as concerned about the model as i am for their current art director… who is this person and why did they think this was flattering, stylish or good photos…. seriously…

  31. Sascha says:

    so sad that you did not get the joke of this add.

  32. BeYourself17 says:

    You guys have way too much time on your hands.

  33. Rebecca says:

    Part of the Yoga practice is to refrain from judging others. I’m under the impression that this article (& the comments generated) is judgmental. I get that this is an ‘AD’ & it some ways its sad that the ‘retailer’ is capitalizing on Yoga, but on the good note Yoga is being ‘advertised’ to people who may never thought prior to learn about the practice. Do we even know if this girl does practice yoga? Or has done it at least once? Beginner or Novice…it’s her Asana & all that matters is how she feels not what our opinion is of her. :)

  34. Thespi says:

    A true 'yogi' isn't suppose to judge another persons practice. That would be your ego getting in the way. Also why would you be so fixated on an American Apparel add? You must have some of your own insecurities that should be worked on in your own yoga practice. This article to me is very rude and judgmental. Why don't you try reading 'Light on Yoga' than googling American Apparel adds.

  35. duh says:

    looks like they've been practicing at Black Swan Yoga

  36. msnewstarr says:

    wow. to have ill judgements as a yogi is disheartening to see. shall we examine a few staples of the culture?
    dare i say the basics? and so what if she's a beginner? i mean, come on people. have nothing better to do? let me help you re learn some of these incredibly important principles:

    ''''''In yoga philosophy, ahimsa—often translated as "non-violence" or "nonharming"—is the opportunity to relinquish hostility and irritability, and instead make space within your consciousness for peace. "In that space, all the anger, separation, and aggression resolve themselves," says Kraftsow. This allows you to let others be who they are, and to relate to the world in a whole new way.
    To incorporate ahimsa into your life, look at all the attitudes you have that might be keeping you from feeling at peace. "I encourage students to notice how many times they have an enemy image of something—a neighbor, a co-worker, even the government," says Judith Hanson Lasater, a renowned yoga teacher and the author of six books, including A Year of Living Your Yoga. "Write down your five most negative thoughts," she says. "These thoughts themselves are a form of violence." Lasater recommends that you hold your negativity in your consciousness and step back from it a bit. Just noticing the negativity will help you stop feeding the thoughts and will lead you toward peace.
    "My favorite description of ahimsa is of a dynamic peacefulness prepared to meet all needs with loving openness," says Charlotte Bell, a longtime Iyengar Yoga teacher and the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life. "There's a suggestion of a state of balance that can evolve, that meets each situation in an open and accepting way."
    This openness can extend to others. "You may mistakenly think that to refrain from harming another brings benefit to that other, and not to yourself," says Sharon Gannon, the co-creator of Jivamukti Yoga. "But when you start to understand how karma works, you realize that how you treat others determines how much suffering you experience." Gannon believes that if you truly become "other centered" (putting the happiness and well-being of others first), then not only do you experience less suffering, but the other yamas also unfold effortlessly."""
    Get that? Good. Now, there's one more that's really REALLY important:
    Santosha: Contentment
    In nearly every translation of Yoga Sutra II.42, santosha is interpreted as the greatest happiness, the underlying joy that cannot be shaken by life's tough moments, by injustice, hardship, bad luck. "Contentment is really about accepting life as it is," says Bell. "It's not about creating perfection. Life will throw whatever it wants at you, and you ultimately have little control. Be welcoming of what you get."
    You can practice this on the mat quite easily, by acknowledging your tendency to strive to do a perfect pose and accepting the one you've got. "There's no guarantee that you'll get enlightened when you do a backbend with straight arms, or touch your hands to the floor in Uttanasana," says Bell. "The process of santosha is relaxing into where you are in your pose right now and realizing that it is perfect." Lasater compares santosha to the deep relaxation possible in Savasana (Corpse Pose). "You can't run after contentment," Lasater says. "It has to find you. All you can do is try to create the space for it."
    If you release your mind from constantly wanting your situation to be different, you'll find more ease. "It's not fatalism; it's not to say you can't change your reality," says Cope. "But just for the moment, can you let go of the war with reality? If you do, you'll be able to think more clearly and be more effective in making a difference."
    During those times when you don't feel content, just act for one moment as if you were. You might kick-start a positive feedback loop, which can generate real contentment. It might feel absurd when your inner landscape isn't shiny and bright, but the simple physical act of turning up the corners of your mouth can have amazing effects. "Smile," suggests Devi. "It changes everything. Practicing smiling is like planting the seed of a mighty redwood. The body receives the smile, and contentment grows. Before you know it, you're smiling all the time." Whether you're practicing asana or living life, remember to find joy in the experience.""""

    There. If you please have nothing to do but sit and talk shit about something like that, when there is WAY BIGGER THINGS GOING ON then, please just take some time and learn about something you think you wanna preach about. because these little details are actually the most important moving parts.

  37. msnewstarr says:

    ……and by the way, why can't a photographer take pictures of a beginner student? i sincerely doubt any of those positions would land her in the hospital. honestly, i'm slightly appalled, does everybody have to be advanced and incredible to be photographed? i am an incredibly meticulous about correcting alignment so don't get me wrong alignment is EVERYTHING. but to trash something like this… there are more important things to talk about. like judgment and exclusivity. it's disgraceful.

  38. Santosha says:

    Judgmental much?
    Why bash on the model and but her all on blast in a negative way? What if that is all her body can do in that pose during that present moment?
    Daily practice has taught me not to be judgmental of myself or other regardless of where we are at and where we are capable of.

    Please don't look down on people in a negative light like this. It doesn't make you look any better as a yoga practitioner.

  39. Charlotte says:

    Amusing post and cute advertisement. I agree with another commenter that it's just all part of AA's strategy – they didn't want 'perfect' poses or a look that is largely unattainable to their majority market: Teenage/student-kinda-awkward-nerdy-retro-chic-with-sex-appeal (my interpretation – please make your own). She's so young and supple in her youth (nice lotus, honey!) that one photo shoot of less than optimally aligned body positions (dang, it can't even be said she's doing yoga) is not going to cause long term or any other damage. Let's not take this ad and ourselves so seriously!

    And… perhaps it's not relevant to the discussion but has anyone tried this product? I've heard the quality isn't awesome and long term wash and wear is unlikely but would love some other feedback on AA leggings/yoga pants.

  40. ShanicG says:

    Its wrong to hate on these models. They were hired for a job and did as they were told. On the flip side, I personally like ipwnyoga.com clothes because they don't use models, they only use real yogis.

  41. Hey, don't be dissing on Beer Pose!

  42. I suspect that this might be exactly what they're going for: the regular gal who's trying yoga and doesn't necessarily have any idea what she's doing. And it works as that. I don't think they're trying for the Lululemon yoga goddess/yoga teacher demographic (and might even be consciously trying to target the many women who are alienated by that).

  43. Nicole says:

    Since when is yoga full of perfectionist snobs.. she might not be perfect and some corrections need to be made but its clothing sales. Im sure she was nice to work with attitude wise. More so than all the know it all yogis Im seeing here. Be nice people. Come from love.

  44. sabine says:

    Good thing that yogis and yoginis are non judgemental and accepting. Accepting of the shape of a normal human body, accepting of the difference in our bodies and the way we look in these poses, accepting of the fact that advertisers will do anything to create a stir and start people talking…..
    I'm a little embarrased for the model for being put out there for people to shred but I'm more embarrassed to read some of these very harsh comments. Not nice – down dog – bad dog everyone!

  45. Joey bagadonuts says:

    Considering all the comments and fuss, appears they are geniuses.

  46. Michelle Marchildon says:

    Several years ago I was asked to participate in a yoga photo shoot for a health club. The other "models" were looking kind of glamorous doing I-don't-know-what-pose. I was doing the poses accurately. In the end, they cut most of me out because the health club said, I looked too "weird." Hilarious.

  47. Olivia says:

    I like it. She doesn’t look photoshopped, she looks quite average, it’s non-threatening. AA are all about not looking like you’re trying too hard. These shots are perfect for their brand. Kudos to them. And extra points for the tummy bulge. Someone deserves a raise

  48. Michelle says:

    I love it.
    she is not perfect.
    who is.
    get over it.
    i find this refreshing.
    enough "yoga celebrities" already.
    lets see real people doing their best.
    more accessible
    more honest.
    I extra LOVE her belly in the forward fold.
    HORRAY AA for not following the Norm of Yoga advertising & stepping out of the Yoga glam BS.

  49. maria says:

    i think is very cool, she is like beginer is nice to see no perfection also

  50. Patricia says:

    SO many people ” practice” like this , but teachers are too busy demoing then really teaching, maybe she just had a bad yoga teacher, they DO exist

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