The Equinox Video: Pitting Women Against Women. ~ Stacy China

Via elephant journal
on Jan 12, 2012
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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.


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10 Responses to “The Equinox Video: Pitting Women Against Women. ~ Stacy China”

  1. Excellent piece Stacey. Well done!- Jeannie Page

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  3. Vision_Quest2 says:

    The thing is, it was not a practice. It must have still, her skill notwithstanding, been highly edited … and of course the director honed in on the obvious cheap shots.

    If, according to the other post, it negatively affected a gay male yoga teacher viewer and caused HIM to feel possibly competitive … well, that's the smoking gun right there …

  4. suzy anand says:

    and still no one from either side of this "controversy" points out the inevitability of her wrist, elbow and/or shoulder injuries because of the slightly off aspects of her postures! THAT is what bothers me the most!!!

  5. Vision_Quest2 says:

    It does not inspire my body type, who needs low-intensity, large-muscle using cardio … it may inspire a young, mesomorphic woman who is trying to ward off an incipient eating disorder …

    But, Equinox has blink… for my market segment … they are obviously not interested in double-digit dress size dollars …

  6. barbarapotter says:

    I agree with yogayoga. I think the video was beautiful and what is wrong with showing that. Coming from someone who can just about do downward dog and is 20 lbs. overweight. I appreciate this young woman and what she can do. I think the world looks for too much to complain about.

  7. Vision_Quest2 says:

    In a sense, you are right. This is but one example of impermanence. Literally—Briohny could be flavor-of-the-month …
    As a yoga teacher matures, the smart ones learn to straitjacket their styles … the upper end of the mainstream might want a (relaxing) yoga retreat, or exotic travel, or may move around too much … separate and apart from the fact that trends die, and Cross-Fit is rapidly replacing yoga as the next "fitness" trend …

    So this is another instance of "go big or go home" … in a marketing sense ..

  8. I agree; I loved Jeannie's piece on the Equinox vid, and I swear to God, I never even KNEW there was a "naked man in the bed" until I read the comments!!! LOVED her moves, her grace, her elegance….the silence and depth and beauty was somethin' else….

    Nice article, Stacy….

  9. […] the big deal?” many women were disturbed. I am on the fence. One of my students wrote a great response piece, pointing up the ways the video plays on women’s insecurity about themselves and their […]

  10. […] Is Equinox selling through inspiration or discouragement? […]