Is Equinox selling through inspiration or discouragement?
*Other articles on this topic: Why the Sexy Equinox Yoga Video Pissed Me Off, The Equinox Yoga Video: Sex… Or Art? My Perspective, El Video de Equinox… El Sexo…. O el Arte?? Mi Perspectiva, Yoga is Beautiful
Remember when you were a little kid and you’d watch the big kids do things you couldn’t do yet? Maybe they could throw hard enough to start up a snowball fight, or jump high enough to reach the basketball rim, or hang upside down on the monkey bars. Something. But you couldn’t do it yet, so you’d watch and lust for the day you’d be able to do that stuff, too.Well, I’m finding that yoga can be like that, in that there’s always somebody who can do stuff you can’t.
And it’s really easy to fall into that asana-lust, comparing yourself to that ideal and chomping at the bit to get there today (forget eventually. Who has time for eventually? The new guy with the tattoos — or the girl you think you can’t stand or the old friend you’re trying to impress anew — might not be in class tomorrow. This needs to go down right now).
Ahem. Not terribly yogic, but spend time on a mat and you’ll get there. I thought about this when I stumbled across Equinox’s latest yoga ad, which is on YouTube.
The ad is three and a half minutes of inversions, downward dogs and an eventual jump-through by one of their teachers. This being Equinox, she’s dressed in some lacy, skimpy black underwear, and that’s it. The lighting is soft, the music is soft, the camera slowly caresses her flat belly and her toned thighs. It’s dancelike, really. Very beautiful.
Of course, many people have cried out that it’s beyond pretty — it’s closer to soft porn. I didn’t mention the boy in the rumpled bed in the background and the un-shaded windows so anyone can watch yoga goddess in her morning routine. Well. If you’ve ever seen an Equinox print ad, you can’t be surprised. They like the flesh, you know.
To me, though, arguing about whether or not this is too “sexy” is having the wrong argument. The deeper question is, how we, particularly as women, really feel about ourselves. Because I’m willing to bet somebody’s monthly salary that the majority of women watching this video will move beyond whether they think it’s inappropriate or not and launch into asana-lust. “Does my dog look like that? Damn, look at her stomach. My stomach doesn’t look like that. And I know my thighs don’t look like that. How does she get so straight in forearm stand? And how does she get her toes to do that? WTF?” And so on. You’re right back on the playground, wanting to what somebody else can do, largely just so you can say, me, too.
Unfortunately, this is what the marketing department at Equinox is betting on. They’re betting on women being motivated by their feelings of envy/inferiority/jealousy/frustration and taking those feelings to their nearest Equinox, to work on getting where yoga goddess already is. The sexiness is a smokescreen, to prevent you from seeing what’s really going on here.
Motivating women from their feelings of inferiority is the evil here, not showing a woman in lingerie from the back in downward dog. I don’t blame the woman in the video. More power to her. She rocked it out. I do, however, blame marketers who make a living out of keeping women sniping at each other instead of supporting one another.
In a way, the ad is too advanced for us. For if we were truly okay with ourselves, we could watch this and say, “Wow. This girl is for real. Love that! Makes me not want to skip class today.” Can you do that, though? Can you watch and not compare? Can you watch and not feel bad about where you are in any or all of these poses? Can you watch and be happy for her, without being critical of yourself?
Watch it again. If you can’t, don’t feel bad — we’re talking about undoing a lifetime of negative conditioning. But maybe work towards it. Like your handstand (and mine), it’s a process. Slowly, you’ll find yourself feeling good for someone else — and even better for yourself.
Stacy China is a professional writer and active philosopher raised in Brooklyn, NY. She is immune to the sad yet common Jedi mind tricks used to obfuscate the truth of our lives. Her goals are to pay for a proper Italian villa, to learn how to do a killer descending angel, and generally to set the minds of the world on fire.