What the naked (except for Toesox) Toesox ad brings up for me are memories of student films and photoshoots I participated in when I was in college. We shot a lot in black and white and I do think it's beautiful, but seeing a young woman whose vagina and pubic hair is barely covered by an arm and the clever shooting angle just makes me imagine everything that might be happening around that moment. In my minds eye, I see lights and an assistant or more and a photographer-- all clothed--while this nude young women is being attended to and visually preyed upon. I have no reason to think that Kathryn Budig, the model, feels in any way compromised by the photos. It's just me feeling insecure about my own past youth and vulnerability. Perhaps, I can't really see the beauty that might be there because the image just seems inappropriate: it is harsh on my eyes. I don't understand the nude advertising for non-skid socks. It really seems crass to me.
As a yoga teacher, I hope my teaching is helping students to discover their own bodies, going deeper into their own experience. I don't want to be an object for ogling, and at the same time I am inspired by beautiful yoga teachers. And I feel empowered by my own beautiful body. So we are never totally separated from our sexuality. A good interaction between a teacher and student can be healing and helpful, and sexuality can magnetically draw positive uplift.
I do think that healthy sexuality can permeate all aspects of life as a joyful undercurrent. Most of the time we don't need to talk about it.
And while I do see the potentially positive aspects of sexuality everywhere, people look to a magazine like Yoga Journal to be educated about yoga. And I wonder: what does the Toesox advertisement add to that conversation? For me (and apparently others, too) it is confusing. And for people who are new to yoga, it might be misleading. Is yoga supposed to be arousing? A form of foreplay, perhaps... If we are having our eyes trained in this way by looking at Yoga Journal, aren't we going to be more likely to wonder about our yoga teachers naked? Or maybe I'm just naive. I'm sure some people already do. In fact, I have been smacked by the beauty of a male instructor removing his shirt to demonstrate a pose. So who am I to judge?
Sexuality is everywhere, and when we try to suppress that, it is still there: we are merely ignoring it.
In our sexually-charged world how do we insure a safe space for practicing yoga? After all, pursuit of sex can be a form of predation. This is why sexuality around yoga must be consciously reckoned with. Otherwise our yoga classes just become another meat market. Wait a minute! A lot of them already are. So perhaps Toesox ads are just a natural outpicturing of the way American culture is processing yoga: as a way for women to become "Slim Calm Sexy!" as Tara Stiles recently tweeted about her new book entitled 'Slim Calm Sexy Yoga'. Here is a picture that came from a link on her Twitter page:
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