Yoga Journal & Singles’ Ads….Yes or No?

Via on Jan 18, 2013

Where'd you go?

Or, “Attention Yoga Journal…. What Were You Thinking?”

Today I opened up my shiny new edition of Yoga Journal. On the cover is a healthy bodied gal, clad completely in white, holding her big toe with her hand high up in the air. A pose I can only dream of doing. And yes, I do dream of doing it someday.

I have no problem with the attractive yogis on the cover. As a business woman, I understand that images of pretty people and visually stunning yoga poses help to sell the magazine. So I try to remain neutral, not judge, and let myself be inspired.

But then in the back of the magazine, nestled among ads for yoga mats, clothing, and even, I kid you not, a yoga tub, I saw this:

“ATTENTION WOMEN:
Our Top Portland Bachelor is Seeking His Match
He is a very successful entrepreneur and environmental activist.  He is spiritual, handsome, creative, and passionate about philanthropy.  Are you intelligent, attractive, fit, with an enthusiastic spirit? (30-40s)  Do you deserve to be loved, cherished, and respected?”

The ad is large, full-color, and stands out as the only singles ad in the entire magazine. Oh, and there is a full color photo of an attractive blonde, who appears to be between the ages of 30 and 40, with her face all made up and lips pouted, in the center of the ad.

Sorry, but this just feels wrong.

I am not opposed to singles’ ads or online dating. I know more then a few who have met their soul mate this way including my 70-year-old Aunt Viney. But it feels creepy to see this ad in the back of our yoga community’s most popular magazine. It’s the wrong venue and, at the very least, the content and language should have been scrutinized by Yoga Journal staff.

This magazine is taken as the “word on yoga” by many new yogis and yoga teachers. When a person first gets bit by the yoga bug, he or she will usually run out and buy a copy of Yoga Journal. According to their website, they sell over 350,000 copies a month at newsstands alone and 72 percent of their readers are female.

So why does this ad bother me?

Maybe because it began with, “Attention Women.” Unusual words in the back of Yoga Journal. Hey that’s me. It reeled me in and took me by surprise.

Maybe because the ad emphasized that the guy who is seeking companionship is rich.

Or that he is looking for a woman who is fit, attractive, and between the ages of 30 and 40. ( I’ll bet my Lululemons this is the demographics of the typical Yoga Journal reader.) But what does this convey to the readers who fall outside these socially cherished qualities? That somehow they don’t fit the glass slipper and don’t deserve Prince Charming?

What ticked me off the most was the ad asked the viewer if she deserved to be loved, cherished, and respected. This felt like major “creepster” language reaching out like tentacles seeking vulnerable women with low self-esteem.  Don’t we all deserve to be loved, cherished, and respected?  That kinda goes without saying.

The ad asks women if they are fit, attractive, and with an enthusiastic spirit and places this question next to the one where it asks women whether they deserve to be loved, cherished, and respected—as if these two are inherently linked.

The message is that in order to be worthy of love, we must meet a specific beauty requirement with a smile upon our face.

This is damaged thinking and the type of societal values that we are turning away from when we practice yoga. Being valued for attractiveness sets up women for a host of issues including body image and eating disorders. We do not need to be viewed through the lens of how attractive we are to determine our worth. The things we deserve are not based on the size of our bodies, our fitness levels, or playing it nice. The desire for a woman to look and act a certain way because they have a yoga practice also highlights some pretty superficial stuff.  Never once does the ad mention the deeper qualities of yoga.

I am not a single lady.  So why do I care?  Because I am a woman and I do practice yoga and read Yoga Journal to enhance my understanding of the practice.  I look forward to seeing posture flows from yogis such as Ame Wren or reading interviews with yoga legends like Geeta Iyengar. Both were in this month’s Yoga Journal.

Placing singles ads in the back of Yoga Journal could be compared to putting singles ads up at the back of a yoga studio.  The answer to this is simple. No.

It feels like Yoga Journal’s predominantly female audience is being preyed upon. It sends out weird subliminal messages including sexual objectification.  And I don’t like the idea it conveys about single men either.  Men doing yoga in mostly female filled yoga classes already have to contend with some unfair speculation on their intentions.

And what about the yogis that are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?  Where are the single ads for them? Does Yoga Journal really want to promote only heterosexual relationships?

And what if this ad is a scam or a gimmick like a few of my friends have suggested? Don’t bring that stuff into Yoga Journal. We don’t need it.

And why does the CEO of the dating company appear in the ad?  What is she doing there, and with a sultry look on her face? Maybe only sultry ladies should apply? I guess this CEO knows what she’s doing since her company’s tag-line is “Making love happen…since 1986.”

Okay, I have said my piece. Even though I am disappointed in the newest ad, I will continue to read their magazine. For now. But I will write for change. As Kaitlin Quistgaard, Yoga Journal editor, states in her opening letter of this month’s edition,

“This is how change happens…layer by layer.”

I am just one of millions of women today who practice yoga.

Our gender has some big issues to contend with including agism, looks-ism, sexual objectification, sexual discrimination and a higher percentage of female poverty. This is a time where female sexual slavery, rape, and  genocide are still acceptable in many countries. Thinking about these things means I should get in some more time with my yoga mat.

On my mat, I see and feel more clearly.  I understand my inherent dignity and value and connectivity to all. On my mat, I let go of the things that are harmful and don’t serve me. I hope that someday we will all be liberated from suffering.

 

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

 

~
Ed: Kate Bartolotta
.

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About Anne Falkowski

Anne Falkowski has been teaching yoga for fifteen years and has taught yoga to over thousands of students from all walks of life. In addition to teaching yoga, yoga teacher training and owning a yoga studio- Anne has published many articles on yoga. She is currently working on a non-fiction book. . Anne also unschools her two teenagers and snuggles with her six year old. Contact her at director@samadhiyogastudio.com

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10 Responses to “Yoga Journal & Singles’ Ads….Yes or No?”

  1. J.R. says:

    Great message, thanks!

  2. Tracie says:

    You know, if something like this had shown up in Yoga Journal say, ten years or so ago, I would have been much more alarmed. That was back when YJ was still full of substance and thought-provoking articles, in-depth anatomy columns and not so many predominantly white, obviously upper-middle-class, young, super-slim women clad in their $100 lulus. (Wow…do I sound bitter? LOL! Absolutely!) I have been witnessing the diluting of the content and direction of YJ firsthand over the past decade…to the point where it now is not much different from any other women's rag out there, except with a vegetarian and yogic twist to it. Was the singles ad inappropriate? Possibly. Stuff like that doesn't really offend me, but yes, I agree the magazine might have wanted to be a bit more discerning. Was it surprising? Sadly, no, not at all.

    • Anne says:

      Tracie, For me I don't know if ten years ago I would have recognized which articles were full of substance and which ones were not. When I was a newer yogi I would scour YJ hoping to glean bits of wisdom. I was naive. Now if I was to look back I might see the articles with a more discerning eye. But I do trust you that is has become diluted. I actually didn't read the magazine for the last five years and just started again when I began writing about yoga. Seeing what is being put out there. Thanks for the comments.

  3. Dan says:

    This sentence is key: “Never once does the ad mention the deeper qualities of yoga.”

    I took a moment with your prose, and what ultimately settles is that one sentence. (Yes, “Men doing yoga in mostly female filled yoga classes already have to contend with some unfair speculation on their intentions” unfortunately resonates, but that’s ego.) And were the ad given with the base of the purity in a yoga practice, its entire tone and message would change.

    Thanks for highlighting these inconsistencies.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks Dan for taking the time to read and digest this article. You are right, there could possible be a way that YJ could do singles ads tastefully. But I agree with you the print has to be small. The makers of this particular ad were tone-deaf to their audience. I think that YJ should have seen that.

  4. West Anson says:

    Well, I think more and more people are awakening to the acknowledgment that “Yoga” has morphed into just another modality to market goods and services to consumers. Sad, but becoming ever so apparent.

    Yoga Journal has long given up the facade of being a legitimate Publication devoted to the practice of Yoga. They are a part of a dying medium trying to hang on. Squeezing the last bit of money out of it’s Advertisers. I long ago stopped paying for a subscription for that “rag” and guess what? I still keep getting it every month! Hahaha! I think they keep “subscribers” simply to show their numbers to Advertisers and to “pimp” their Conferences.

    Each month when I get their magazine, it goes into the recycle bin immediately. It isn’t worth my effort to bother looking at it. If you want a nice Yoga magazine with articles worthwhile to Yogis, try ASANA: Yoga Journal International. I don’t believe it is affiliated with YJ as it is based out of India. Or pay $12/year for Elephant Journal. ;-). Namaste my friends.

  5. Damn! I never look at a YJ more closely than a passing glance for relevant content these days, these years. I'm so pleased that you bring this up here or anywhere!!!! Because of the way he worded this,it kind of screams of stalker. This guy is perusing the bounty of the girl heavy yoga scene looking for a worthy mate. I suspect many people come to yoga class or any venue to find like minded people and even like minded dates but this has a wierd flavor of dominance made wierder by its boldness as an ad. It certainly hits my reactivity meter.

  6. JunO says:

    I am a single woman in my early 40s and subscribe to Yoga Journal. Do I feel preyed upon? I've been through the latest issue several times and never even noticed the ad mentioned, so I guess not. I don't get the mag for the ads (sorry, YJ).

  7. Nancy says:

    I have been subscribing to YJ for over three years now and have noticed that the content is getting less and less appealing. I’m not saying its bad content, it just seems to be the same thing written in each magazine. I didn’t even notice the ad when I was reading this month’s edition, but I am appalled to learn of this. Shame on YJ, it totally goes against the yogic philosophy.

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