Many beautiful yogis are fluttering about in all their exalted fineries of muscle, sinew and sartorial accoutrements.
I’m watching “fancy yoga clothes” photo shoot for a potential print advertisement in Yoga Journal.
I am biting my bottom lip. Smiling, I’m trying to play “friendly coffee gofer” while the set is prepared for this theater. I am breathing deeply and telling myself: this is all about promotion of health. This is a paycheck. I am also silently screaming with the subtlety of my askance eyebrows.
At this moment I am working for a large yoga lifestyle company. The pictures will be gorgeous. The model is beautiful and talented.
These images will make you want to buy the clothes and products you see on the models. You’ll wonder how you will look in them. For a moment, after purchasing the garment, you will have a buoyant sense of possibility.
“My practice is about to go to another level and this sports/bra/tank-top is going to be the catalyst for this shift.”
The cleverly packaged item will arrive to your door and you will tear into layer upon layer of plastic to pull out the heavily tagged article. You will shimmy it on in the light of your yellowing apartment.
You’ll be a little (or a lot) disappointed. You will turn around and glance over your shoulder to see if your ass looks acceptable. Bending over, you will check if the person behind you can see your vagina in down-dog. You will wrestle with just how much vagina is too much vagina.
And by you, I mean me.
I grew up without brand name clothes and so the little girl in me salivates involuntarily at anything with Lisa Frank colors or anything the cool kids are wearing. The adult in me thinks these brands are pretentious. There is a lot of fighting in my head whenever I am unfortunate enough to enter a mall or shop anywhere on the web.
This ad (and all ads, really) are built to instill a sense of lack in the gaze of their intended audience.
You should feel as though this product will give you something you need or deserve. Some piece of yourself is missing and this product shall restore you to wholeness. This item will fix that part of you that is fatally flawed. You are broken, you are insufficient and this object can finish you. You will be done. You will have arrived into the fullness of yourself.
It is, of course, a lie. The product at best offers a temporary assuaging of the chronic condition of being alive in North America, yet it will create another contraction of craving and so the cycle of spending spirals. There is no immunity for the condition of a perceived lack.
I sense it just watching the photo shoot—a wordless pre-lingual sensation that feels something like:
“She has such a lovely practice. That shirt looks so good on her and her lovely practice. I wonder if they have that in my size. Perhaps a darker color would be more flattering. Perhaps I could buy it and when I lose a few pounds, I could fit into it and thus reward myself for progress in my own lovely practice.”
This is what it looks like, a commerce of aspiration, spending money on potentials.
I return home tired, emotionally and aesthetically. I’m reminded that this is part of my practice: not coveting, non-attachment, sufficiency, being present and observing.
Every time I walk past an advertisement, it is another chance to say,
It is another chance to practice the notion that the less I want, the more I have.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman