Kathryn and Tara: I’m a fan!

Via Brooks Hall
on Sep 9, 2010
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Kathryn Budig and Tara StilesI Like Kathryn Budig. I like Tara Stiles. I don’t know them personally, but I’m fascinated by them.

At the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency, I remember being fascinated by his daughters. I really enjoyed the story of them getting carded for margaritas at a Mexican restaurant with their secret service people just outside. Having done a lot of underage drinking, myself, I relished in the tale of the President’s daughters doing it, too. I wanted to know more, but the story soon changed, and we heard less about Jenna and Barbara in the media as time went on.

If my life had offered a different set of circumstances, I would have posed naked for Toesox. I’m sure of it. So I’m fascinated by the little bits of info I’m gleaning from Kathryn’s blog posts at HuffPo and Yoga Journal about what all of this recent talk about it might mean to her.

I have a similar sense about Tara’s story. In the intro of her book she talks about having grown up in rural Illinois. I grew up in small town Ohio, so I project my experience onto her story a little bit. She also speaks of the pressures of her early modeling career (under different life circumstances I might have done modeling), and how she felt the need to be “Slim Calm Sexy” constantly. Yoga helped her.

Don’t many of us fantasize at some point or another about being the ones chosen to model or publish a book that appears on bookstore shelves across the country? And some of us reading this have already achieved these dreams, and I bet that some of us have yet to achieve our ambitions.

These women have worked hard to have successful careers. I just want to honor their accomplishments here, because I have a voice. Because I can.

You go girls!

And to everyone else (including me) watching the moves of these women in the spotlight right now: Let’s just consider how we might work toward our personal dreams too, and try not to stab our tiny pitchforks of unrequited dreams in the direction of these examples of success.

Let’s work. Let’s love as best we can! Let’s dream. And put energy towards making our world better, rather than trying to tear down the images of others.

What do you think? This is new media so you can tell me and all the other readers (in the comments below) how crazy and inappropriate this is: if you feel that to be true.

We can also rally our resources toward celebrating the accomplishments of successful people, as well as pumping ourselves up to more fully offer our personal blessings to the blogosphere, daily life and world.

* This article is an offering for peace from Yogic Muse *


About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at: brookshall.blogspot.com.


37 Responses to “Kathryn and Tara: I’m a fan!”

  1. Carol Horton says:

    I think that it's too bad that the debate over the commercialization of yoga is becoming so personalized. In Ms. Budig's case, that was essentially an accident: as explained on the It's All Yoga Baby blog, if that ad hadn't been the best illustration available online at the time that initial post was written, it would never have become so heavily associated with the ensuing discussion. Certainly, there are plenty of other examples that could have been used, and most people understood that.

    With Ms. Stiles, it's different. She's putting herself out there and very aggressively marketing a "revolutionary new approach" to yoga. I hesitated writing about her directly, because I don't want to say negative things about individuals. But since she's pushing so hard for a new approach to yoga – and seemingly very successfully – I couldn't think of any way to discuss this development without talking about her work directly. But I tried to do so in a balanced and reasonable way.

    To accuse people who care enough about American yoga to take the time to be critical about some of the directions it's going of being jealous and "driven by unrequited dreams" seems unfair and mean-spirited. Similarly, I felt that Ms. Budig's Huff Post piece, which writes off everyone with a critical view of yogic commercialization as being angry, envious, negative, etc., is way off the mark. While I can sympathize with the position that she found herself in, and wish that the debate had not become so centered on her ad (again, something that no one intended), I think that she's wrong not to recognize that there's a legitimate and even important discussion going on here.

    • Melanie says:

      What a brilliant reply, especially the last paragraph. Thank you.

    • Ramesh says:

      Well said, Carol. I agree. It's rather simple: when you are a celebrity and a public personality people will talk about you, have opinions about you. Hence, some famous people are, for good reason, careful not to associate themselves with products, trends, and ideas that are contrary to their lifestyle and ethical values. That is a choice every celebrity has and can make. That is also a choice we yogis have, including Ms. Stiles and M. Budig. So, while a yogi is not simply his or her clothes, his or her body, the way you wear or not wear your clothes and in which circumstances, does matter. This important and healthy debate was not solely about Ms. Stiles nor Ms. Budig, but it was definitely about the choices that they have made in portraying yoga as just another commercial fad for those who want (and can afford) to look and feel fit. Some of us do not think that is only what yoga is about, so we voiced our opinions against the superficial and commercial aspects of yoga today. Hence, I truly admire and aspire to be like those beautiful yoginis and yogis, in all shapes and colors, who do not dream of getting a big paycheck to stand next to a car to strut their stuff….

      • Brooks_Hall says:

        Hi Ramesh.

        I agree that the choices you talk about are important, but there’s nothing wrong with being successful either… I think that we all need to make our own choices, and perhaps respect the choices of others, too. It’s not to say that we might not choose to call the choices of others to a question sometimes to heighten our awareness of the choices we are making, but to speak out aggressively toward someone just because they’re successful also seems suspect to me. Everybody deserves respect and kindness.

        • Ramesh says:

          Hi Brooks, I did not speak out against success in general. I have no problem with success, as I consider both Buddha and Patanjali to be fairly successful at what they did. So this debate was not about the envy of success. It was about how yoga is presented and represented by certain successful yogis. On a spiritual level, yes, everybody deserves respect and kindness, YES! But when spiritual people misrepresent and cheapen yoga, they deserve to be reminded, sometimes even strongly. However, this debate was not so much about these successful yoginis, it was about a general downward spiraling trend–the commercialization of yoga. Let's keep that perspective in mind. So, in all respect, I reserve the right to disagree with that trend.

  2. Linda-Sama says:

    "try not to stab our tiny pitchforks of unrequited dreams in the direction of these examples of success."

    Really, Brooks? Is that what you really think this entire discussion has been about? I'm shaking my head at that one.

    • Brooks_Hall says:

      Honestly, Linda-Sama, I can only speak from my individual viewpoint, and from where I am it looks like the situation would benefit from a little consideration of what we are saying to one another.

      For me this has been a process: First I was wounded as I remembered some of my own body-issues, after Judith Hanson Lasater's letter to Yoga Journal. Then I activated through my writing and felt more empowered. And now I've softened, accepting what I see now. I have a new understanding based on this journey I have undertaken.

      This discussion has been about cultivating or maybe birthing awareness about how I relate to yoga in popular culture. I think it plays a relevant role, when I think that I used to think of it as “out there” and my yoga practice and teaching was somehow separate. It no longer is making sense to think that way. The more I open up to hear other viewpoints, the richer my life is.

      • Linda-Sama says:

        of course you speak from your own viewpoint, don't most writers/artists? the same way that my "personal is political" blog post came from my experience as an early '70s feminist in the trenches, so to speak. we all speak from our own experiences.

  3. Martin says:

    Okay, i’ll bite. Crazy Brooks but cute as hell!

  4. Linda-Sama says:

    I'll take that as a joke.

  5. Continuing to keep out of the yoga advertising wars, I'll simply go on record as a Brooks Hall fan…

  6. Brooks_Hall says:

    barefootyoga01, from your comment:
    “…you don't see a naked Rodney Yee, or John Friend posing for Ford, or a suggestive shot of Patricia Walden, or Dharma Mittra, or Erich Schiffman.”

    True enough! This is definitely a newer twist on our concept of yoga teachers. Hmm. Makes a lot of sense. People are reacting to the newness of this development…

  7. DutchYogini says:

    I find it interesting to see that in this post, the two ladies in question are being portrayed as successful. What is successful anyway? Is someone who is portrayed in the media extensively – and, arguably, more so because of the way they look than because of what they think – more successful than someone who is not? I have no reason to dislike these women, but I have to say that I haven't noticed them spreading any extraordinary ideas.

    Their messages, their ideas, are not different from messages I see other women spreading: anonymous yoga teachers giving their students tools to acquire peace and insight, school teachers, mothers, sisters…

    I guess I just don't see why these two stereotypically thin, white, pretty, young women should be considered more successful and more of a role model than those countless other women out there.

    • Brooks Hall says:

      Hi DutchYogini!

      Your question, “What is successful?” is a great one! And I think it’s a wonderful idea to honor our yoga teachers whether they are famous or not.

      What you seem to be saying about media popularity as a questionable measure of success I see as a consciousness-raising addition to this post. Thanks!

      And at the same time it is a measure of success that a lot of us buy into: fame = success, or money = success. But it’s definitely worthy of a question.

      Also, there was a time in my life (as a teenager) when I didn’t have any healthy role-models in the media, and it might have made a difference if I had. Media is powerful. That said, I did have my grandmother who was a helpful role model. But I was looking to the media to try to fit-in more at that age.

  8. […] Carol Horton comments: To accuse people who care enough about American yoga to take the time to be critical about some of […]

  9. […] also been suggested that anyone who thinks Tara is selling out is just jealous of her success. Can you imagine that? […]

  10. While personal attacks or insults are not productive or necessary, as the public to whom media is directed, we should been well-versed in looking at advertisements and discerning the messages they are feeding us and be allowed to raise legitimate concerns about them. To have valid concerns written off as mere jealousy is alarming. While we should indeed look inside to learn about the origins of our reactions, work to move from love and light, celebrate and enjoy the success of others, that in no way should discourage speaking up when we see things that are not in integrity and play on insecurity bred by societal gender exploitation.

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