May 10, 2011

Is Spirituality + Fashion “Mindful” or “Materialism”?

Unravel this one for us: a Hindu Goddess on an Australian bikini enrages conservative Indian men.

We’ve covered this sort of thing lots before. It—and by it, I mean the intersection of spiritual materialism and, say, conscious consumerism—might just be the thesis or crux of our mission here at elephant journal. Is infusing materialism with mindfulness a good thing? Yes. Is using spirituality to bolster the ego counterproductive? Yes?

We’ve talked about spiritual tattoos, wrist malas sold in shopping centers, we focus on ecofashion and we’ve done plenty of straight-up coverage of Spiritual Materialism by the gentleman who coined the term, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

This latest chapter finds a controversy that pits men against women, fashion against spirituality. Is wearing a goddess on your yinyang sexy, meaningful, a way of preserving the everyday relevance of faith? Or is it desecration? If the genders were reversed, in this case, would women be so worked up about a man modeling Shiva or Vishnu or Ganesh as sexified fashion?

A swimsuit featuring a print of Hindu goddess Lakshmi has caused quite a stir among Hindus, Fashionising writes.

Lisa Blue recently sent the number walking at Australian Fashion Week. It features a vibrant image of Lakshmi across the front and along the rear.

For the story, click here. Photos:

Indian activists of the right-wing Hindu organisation Shiv Sena hold photocopies of models wearing swimwear featuring Hindu goddess Lakshmi during a demonstration in Amritsar on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images

Lisa Blue promptly ceased production:

We would like to offer an apology to anyone we may have offended and advise that the image of Goddess Lakshmi will not appear on any piece of Lisa Blue swimwear for the new season, with a halt put on all production of the new range and pieces shown on the runway from last week removed.

Lisa Blue has been born out of a love of conservation, spirituality and a respect for all people. At no time would we ever have intended that the brand would cause offence. The use of images of Goddess Lakshmi was not in any way a measure of calculated risk taking, simply it was a desire to celebrate different cultures and share that through our brand.

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lal Aug 2, 2013 2:00am

It is offensive and culturally insensitive. I'm of a sect of the Hindu faith and part of our teachings focus around respect for sacred images and iconography ( we don't even face our backs toward an alter or our feet toward certain people out of respect). It's against our teachings to specifically wear sacred images on anything below the waist as well. It's not offensive to show the midriff, but giving that this image is sexualizing that is disrespectful. Also, the anger stems out of culturally appropriation.Who is this artist/designer to appropriate a sacred image? I know plenty of people have unfortunately but it is tiresome as a Hindu to see these types of displays. It all links back to legacies of colonialism and orientalism.

Virginia Jun 20, 2011 5:40pm

Why should a swimsuit be a dirty thing when it has something sacred on it, and not when it doesn’t? People need to decide which a swimsuit is, dirty or not. People also need to understand that a woman’s body is not dirty but also sacred and beautiful. Something sacred on something sacred, not something dirty on something dirty.

Yeah, I’d think it was weird to have maybe Jesus on a swimsuit, but maybe it shouldn’t be so weird. Mother Mary, however, many woman look up to her as sacred. They should see their bodies as the same, not as disgraceful and dirty.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.