Yoga Journal, Essence and me: Letting go of the mainstream
There’s an ongoing conversation in the online yoga community about skinny models, weight loss products and the entire commercialization of yoga.
Most of the criticism is directed at mags such as Yoga Journal, which, I must say does have a gluttony of photos of skinny white women, weight loss product ads and so on. I’m a subscriber.
(Yes, Faith Hunter was a cover model a few months back, and there was another woman of African descent (at least I think she was) on the cover earlier this year, but these seemed to be reactions to complaints. Most of YJ’s staff seem to be skinny white women. I wouldn’t expect anything less than what they produce.)
There’s another ongoing conversation online about Essence magazine (which is geared toward black women) hiring a white fashion editor.
Although the criticism in both cases is valid, we’re missing a very important point: We are still trying to find ourselves in mainstream media.
We’d be better off trying to find the Holy Grail.
Here’s a snippet of a comment I left on Julie Martin’s Facebook page about the yoga/representation issue:
“I’m torn: On the one hand, yes, I would love to see more people who look like me represented in YJ and other mags. On the other, I’ve learned to stop looking to mainstream media for “me” because it’s never going to happen. I can read YJ and not become upset (anymore) because I see it as a different world, one that I’m not a part of. I will never be white, skinny or blonde (well, I *was* blonde for a bit…but that’s another story:-)).”
I will not find myself in YJ.
I will not find myself in Essence.
I will find myself in the mirror; staring at, accepting and embracing the beautiful big-bootied, gap-toothed, dark-skinned, afro-haired 40-year-old I am.
Here’s a secret: My entire view of my body changed when I did the above for the first time. My yoga practice became deeper and more heartfelt when I did the above for the first time.
Mainstream media, including mags such as Essence and Yoga Journal, will never, ever reflect “me.”
And that’s okay.
Because I don’t need them to do that. I read these mags for info, for tips. Not to find myself.
I’m most certainly, proudly, unapologetically non-mainstream.
The minute I started loving my body was the minute I stopped caring about the mainstream.
And vice versa.