I hesitated writing this post for about 5 minutes. I hesitated because I want to speak words of positivity and be a light in the world.
I decided to write this anyway because I am a yoga teacher, and not all the lessons we will learn in life will be happy. Not all news received will be good. Rather than pull a blanket over my head, and let my students potentially be led astray, I am going to share my thoughts on this little drama, within my small circle of influence.
You may have heard of Dana Falsetti @nolatrees. You may have also heard of Alo Yoga apparel and Cody App, online fitness videos. The cliff notes version is this, Dana is a plus size yoga teacher and a light to many. Alo yoga is a clothing brand that uses attractive yoga models to promote their brand. Cody App is an app that delivers yoga instruction online to users. If you go to either business’s instagram page, it’s lots of great looking people doing beautiful poses, well photographed, in beautiful scenery.
Recently, Cody App and Alo partnered up, so the instructors involved with the app are all decked out head to toe in Alo Yoga clothing. This created a bandwagon illusion, that to be a part of the yoga community, you too had to look great and practice in fantastic outfits. One of Cody’s instructors spoke out about this, that instructor was Dana.
She got sued.
Both Alo Yoga and Cody App are suing Dana for speaking out about her opinions of instagram yoga influencers being young, thin, and beautiful. You can read more in depth about the controversy HERE “A Battle for the Heart of Yoga”.
That is all I want to say about the drama. I might not even be clear on the facts, so read this post more like an opinion piece than some kind of investigative journalism please.
So here is the deal, fitness is a multi billion dollar industry. Industries generate revenue through sales and sales through marketing. Marketing most often works through visual appeal. Therefore, if you LOOK FITNESS, or LOOK YOGA, then you are marketable. So I can’t totally say that Alo Yoga or Cody App are bad guys by displaying their products on visually appealing people. Ultimately, we the consumers have bought into that, and taught the big businesses that these beautiful images are what will make us buy their product. So we really can’t blame their marketing strategy too much.
We the consumers have taught big business that we want to see the beautiful thin models
What I mad about is this, I am sick and tired, of people feeling like fitness isn’t for them because they can’t afford fancy fitness apparel or that they don’t look fitness! Dana was a light against that. This is the same reason I love powerlifting. I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they feel like they shouldn’t be doing yoga, because they don’t look like a yoga model and they can’t do the poses.
Guys, yoga is not about the asanas, it’s not about the fancy clothing, the jewelry, the incense, or even the studio. Yoga is a journey that is about personal growth. Same thing as powerlifting, for me at least (Remember this is an opinion piece and I am by no means a powerlifting authority). Powerlifting is about getting stronger than you were yesterday, both physically and mentally. Not about how many best lifter awards you can get, or meets you do in a year, or if you wear the best gear.
I honestly love the photos Alo Yoga publishes, yet I have to monitor my internal feeling and self esteem. Because I do notice that if I see all their beautiful photos, and compare them to my homely self, that I feel less valuable as a person, and as a yoga teacher.
THAT is ultimately what the whole problem is. The brand is selling clothing, not yoga. I am teaching yoga, not selling clothing. At least once a month I have a student leaving my class in tears of joy because they had an internal breakthrough. It doesn’t matter how bendy they are or how nice their clothes are. What matters is that a human being came to my class, and left feeling better. Which is why I am choosing to stand behind Dana, a woman I don’t know and might never meet. Because she represents the light. She makes yoga accessible to everyone.
What matters is that a human being is choosing to better themselves. Dana is the light that shines to those who feel like the pursuit of health is only for those with a certain look.
So please, I beg you. If you are newer to the gym and are struggling to fit in, please don’t feel like you need to look or dress a certain way to be able to start your journey. Sure there are more practical and functional items and accessories that you can get down the road, but you can start off in pajamas and still get the same results as the person in the expensive outfit.
Louie Simmons said it best, “You can’t have $100 shoes and a 10 cent squat.”
The same thing applies to yoga. You can’t have have a beautiful outfit, and a hateful ugly mind, and still call yourself a yogi. Yoga is not about external beauty or looks. It is about internal beauty and health. Which is hard to market I know! So I do empathize with big brands that have made the choice to use the models they do.
People who know me personally know that I am very into minimalism, zero waste, and I reject fast fashion. Things like this only reinforce my beliefs. For now I am going to continue to teach and practice yoga in my tired and worn out, yet functional clothing. The same goes for the gym and my lifting. I am often surrounded by beautiful women in the prettiest outfits with the best makeup and hair. No hate on them at all! In fact, many of these women I love and respect like no other! However, the point I am trying to make is that external beauty and your personal fitness journey are different things. I don’t want my readers to feel like they need to dress like a fitness model to to to yoga or the gym. One more time for those in the back.
You don’t need to dress like a fitness model or look a certian way to start your journey of health.
If you are interested in supporting Dana, she has a Go Fund Me to help with the lawsuit costs. I stand behind Dana for what she represents. She represents making yoga and fitness accessible to people who might have never started. Alo Yoga and Cody App are wrong for suing her for expressing her opinion, however, I do not condemn the employees of either, the sponsored instructors, or anyone who chooses to buy the apparel or use the app. I only want to bring awareness to this issue.
*At the end of the day, I support people pursuing health at any size. I do support the big is beautiful movement. However, just as I do not support starvation, anorexia, bulimia, or bodies reshaped by photoshop. I do not condone using “big is beautiful” to mask gluttony, disordered binge eating, and obesity. I want everyone to pursue a healthier body, mind, and lifestyle at any size and place in life, and that will always look different on the outside.