Social Media and the Sexualization of Yoga
How reading “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers” made me think about social media and the Sexualization of Yoga.
So I’m reading currently “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.”
I’ve only admittedly read about 10 pages. But it sparked something in me that I haven’t been able to articulate until now: How social media has exploited us sexually, especially the Sexualization of Yoga.
This affects all of us and I’m personally conscious of it as a woman. We are so influenced these days in a new way in how we present ourselves.
I was giving a lecture in a teacher training a few days ago and found myself talking about the energetics of living in the “back” of our bodies (more grounded for example, more in our core we could say) as most of us are concerned and conscious more so of our fronts. How we present ourselves. As I scanned the room, I could see the influence on those who were more involved in a more public way with their work – that involved a lot of social media and marketing – how that was affecting their energetic field.
I know my own struggle with only wanting to share when it’s authentic – even when the word “authentic” these days is bastardized. Who am I, as a yogi, as a human? I ask myself. And what am I doing?
To me, social media is the total exploitation of the people-pleaser, of giving our power away.
“Please like me,” is what often happens. Now I’m obviously naming just the “darker” side. Because of course there is the positive of mass communication and new ways to be creative as well as really cool sharing and informing of one another of what’s going on. Hi, I’m writing this on social media!
But what I’m trying to say in a really round-about way, is that what has dawned on me is the sexualization of yoga.
And I’m not talking about the healthy usage of our sexual energies for enlightenment. I watch my students who feel like they need to look a certain way – to have the “yogi” body. Whatever that means. And then all the posts from yogis – everyone looks the same, a certain litheness and way to contort. I’m not saying anything new. Nor am I calling anyone out. However I am naming a pattern.
So as not to fall into this pattern nor add to it, I have to ask myself when I post:
What am I doing when I communicate? What message do I share? I know my own struggle, feeling so ugly when I was younger, of being sexualized way too young. The feeling of being caught between needing to be simultaneously innocent and dirty get confused with rejecting my own personal sexual desires. Oh the many ways I’ve wrecked myself in the past in order to be pretty, due to my own distorted perceptions. Or all the ways I shut myself down to fit in.
I’m not alone. We’ve all done this in our own ways.
It’s funny how I started yoga when I was 18. It was the place for me to feel safe and to be myself. Where my 85 pounds and boniness was no longer attractive to me or a goal. I had to own up to how uncomfortable I was.
I felt like a fraud years later…after teaching and preaching how yoga saved my life and got me out of my anorexia and bulimia, that I found myself, back right in it. I suddenly felt how yoga was a prison. That suddenly felt like instead of it being my vehicle for freedom, that I suddenly needed to f$cking look a certain way. There’s more I can say about that journey…which I will some time. It’s a relief now that when I do get on the camera, it’s because I just wanna share something – my tangled hair, freckles, and body that varies. It’s relief to not be in that monster space anymore.
But in starting to read this book, I see what’s happening in the hyper-sexualization via social media. This isn’t new. Sex isn’t new. Porn isn’t nor is misogyny. And this is a bigger topic than some FB post. I’m seeing my own discomfort in marketing and advertising. What am I sharing? What am I saying is important? Am I contributing to this sickness? Am I free myself and am I a light of freedom for others?