Yoga Journal posted a “Love Your Curves” article that is seriously messed up. One of the many issues with the article is that their idea of loving your curves seems to be using yoga clothes as “style solutions” to hide flaws. Apparently a journal that wants us to believe that it is an authority in the practice of Yoga also wants us to believe that our practice will be improved if our shoulders look less wide, if we look as tall as possible, and if people are distracted from our stomachs. Namaste Fatties.
The thing I want to talk about today is the phrase “Style Solutions.” It’s not the first time I’ve seen this phrase and every time I reflect on the fact that this is bullshit. These are not solutions, because they aren’t solving any actual problems. Wide shoulders are not a problem, cellulite is not a problem, being short is not a problem (unless I’m trying to reach something and no amount of avoiding capri pants is going to help me get something off the top shelf.)
Of course people are allowed to wear whatever they want for whatever reason they want including trying to approximate the cultural stereotype of beauty. As for me, I’m a member of the Fuck Flattering club. I sometimes wonder if I would be more of a fatshionista if there were more clothing options easily available to me. It makes me laugh when I see quizzes about what my “personal style’ is. I realize immediately that these are written by people who have more than three stores at which they can shop. Still, I’m not even safe from body shame at the fat girl stores anymore with their “control top” leggings, “Tighter Tummy Technology,” padded sports bras promising “glamour” and “lift” but unable to hold my boobs down on a walk to my car, and yoga pants with spandex inserts to “tighten and flatten.”
It’s not just clothes either. I saw an article today that offered complicated make-up solutions for people whose eyes are “too widely spaced”. What with the who now? Of course you can do whatever you want, but may I just humbly suggest that anytime you are spending in the morning trying to make your eyes look closer together – maybe just bump your alarm time back by that many minutes and enjoy sleeping in tomorrow.
We know that it’s incredibly profitable to make us believe that our states of being and looking are “problems” that need to be solved through the buying of things. But there’s another group of people who have an interest in this for less profit driven reasons. There are people who derive their self-worth from looking a certain way. For many of those people just believing themselves to be superior isn’t enough, they need everyone else to buy into it to, and part of that is making us, and everyone else, see our bodies as inferior. Yoga Journal may have been participating in this or merely trying to profit from it (the classic “we’re just given customers [who have been conditioned to see their bodies as flawed by our magazine] what they want!”)
It doesn’t really matter why, what matters is that we see what’s happening, and then we decide what we want to do about it. Maybe we want to buy fashion magazines (that, in my opinion, shove a single stereotype of beauty down our throats while selling us products by insisting that we’re not good enough,) and that’s cool, people are allowed to do that. We can also choose to opt out. There are lots of ways that we can opt out. We can do it in our own heads – when we see things like these we can silently say “No, I’m not buying into this. My body is not a problem or a flaw.” We can opt out with our wallets by refusing to buy things that deliver these messages to us or that profit from them (this may involve sacrifice. I don’t know any way of creating social change that doesn’t.) We can also speak out about it and call it out when we see it. As always, the choice is ours.
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