Origin of Nakedness.

Birth: “as naked as the day you were born.”

Newborns are wet, covered in streaks of blood, and coated with a white substance known as vernix caseosa…
~Wikipedia.

A baby comes into the world with stuff on it, but naked enough, I suppose. A little being who’s, “genitals are enlarged and reddened,” via Wikipedia. Genitals are organs of reproduction: sex organs. And we don’t think of children as being sexual until puberty, but there they are born with “enlarged and reddened” sex organs. Does it say something about us that we enter the world this way (beyond the scientific hormonal explanation), or is it just a freak of nature (no meaning beyond body chemistry at birth)?

And there is the possibility for a woman to deliver a baby with an orgasm. Here’s a video about that:

So, in light of our sexual nature and possibilities right from the start of life, why are a lot of women so uptight (“uptight”=stereotype) about being portrayed as sex objects (the word “object” to refer to woman is a problem) in media, one might wonder? Sex is bliss, right? Are we just going against the unstoppable flow of nature if we want to limit or change certain kinds of representation? And what’s obscene about being naked? It’s how we were born, right? And yoga is hot and women are sexual, so what could be the problem with a video featuring a woman, in her black lacy panties and bra, doing yoga poses in front of a mussed bed with a sleeping guy still in it?

Hmmm… Here’s the video:

The woman in the video is beautiful, and the poses are awesome, but I’m bothered by some of the shots that are not about the yoga, like this one:

I think that this shot is about consuming this woman with a sexual gaze. And someone might say, “So, she’s sexy. That’s awesome. Beautiful.” In fact it was the word “beautiful” that first introduced me to this video in my Facebook news feed.

The first time I watched the video I stopped it about here. As I was watching, my thought process was set in motion by the establishing shot (shown just below). “Oh look, there’s someone in the messy covers,” I thought. After sex yoga, one might assume…

And I was just sort of turned off by the scenario set up by the video. I don’t really feel inspired by stuff like this. It seems to be more about sexual consumption than yogic expertise. And what the model is doing in this video is amazing and skillful. So why was I put off by it?

I was turned off by the packaging and presentation. There she is in an enormous and sparsely decorated bedroom in the city, apparently just having gotten out of the messy bed. She then must have put on her special “yoga bra and panties” just to be comfortable, or maybe because the producers didn’t think it would be appropriate for Equinox to release a nude video. I can only guess.

Everything we see in the images was chosen to tell us something, and mostly to make it exciting so that a lot of us would watch it. The poses are exciting, but the cowboy boots kicked off to the side of the bed are a little much. So I stopped it early. At first. Then I watched the whole thing because I wanted to write about it. And I’m impressed and confused. Impressed with the poses. Confused by the bedroom scenario and close-up sensuality shots (like the one shown above). I’m confused because that doesn’t appeal to me, and I feel like it’s supposed to.

I love sexuality. I just want to see something that makes sense to me. And I love yoga, but yoga isn’t about “getting off,” is it? Yet if a woman was truly having a orgasmic yoga on her own terms, I think it could be cool. In media, it’s a heterosexual man’s world. And I remain unaffected, if not a bit offended by the subtext of this video. Even though it shows a physically powerful woman, the scenario doesn’t read as empowering to me. Boo.

This week I also saw a picture on mindbodygreen.com that inspired me:

There are other images associated with this campaign by PLUS Model Magazine, but this one inspires me the most. I love seeing the model standing there smiling and looking at us. She seems more in control of her presentation. And the tape measure is usually such an overdone cliché for weight loss ads, but here the model is shown to be measuring her ample buttocks! This is super empowering. What I see here is that she is claiming her fullness. This woman is not trying to be small. Yay! I just get happy looking at this. It is fun. And she is naked.

She is sharing herself with us. It doesn’t seem as if she is being sold.

I think that this is what bothers me about the majority of images of females as they are often shown in advertisements: it looks like they are being sold. I mean it as badly as it sounds. I almost think that it encourages bad, disrespectful and even criminal behavior towards women to show them like a perfect product, available for consumption.

Nakedness is a natural aspect of ourselves. The body is the origin of our physical presentation in the world. It is good, like a baby is good. An infant is a pure, precious little being, and we all are also precious and worthy of appreciation. And sexuality is good when there are conscious, empowered adults deciding to express that way with each other. I think that the scenario in the Equinox video makes us into peeping Toms. I don’t like that.

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12 thoughts on “Origin of Nakedness.

  1. Hey Brooks,
    Thanks for writing about this. Ever since that video appeared out of nowhere and started getting passed around with “Love it!” comments by my yogi friends on FB, I have been thinking about it.
    I share a lot of your opinions on this, especially because of the close-up, B-roll shots of her body. It seemed so blatantly sexualized, using the premise of a yoga video to display a hot girl in her underwear. In other words, my feminist alarm bells started clanging. I didn’t even want to watch the whole thing.
    Then I watched it again, and again, and my opinion began to change. I started considering those other elements (the guy, the sheets, the boots) and now I see it as a bit differently. I think of her as a girl who, with a life that is full of details and and responsibilities and adventures (relationship, need for sleep, party nights where you get home so late you can barely kick off your boots and your clothes before falling into bed in just your underwear), is dedicated enough to wake up in the quiet early hours for her practice. Obviously, there are reasons to stay in that big, cushy, sleepy bed; as we know, it’s not always easy to get onto your mat. We see her in her practice, and it is clear that she is focused and steady and beautiful in that single-pointed space.
    Now I perceive that video to be about the beauty of steadiness and persistence in practice, and about the rewards of taking your practice seriously: making time, working through challenges, staying grounded and internally focused. There is devotion, and determination. These are all qualities that I aspire to develop in my own practice, and the same that I try to share with my students.
    Yes, it’s true that she didn’t need to be in those sexy underwear and some of those shots didn’t need to linger on body parts as they did. But in the end, I think the story wins out: that of a woman who is strong in her physical/spiritual practice, and through her devotion she has been given the gift of grace, beauty, and strength in physical form. Beauty in those quiet moments- it’s something that feels familiar to me, and those who have tasted that nectar will identify with it and maybe even be re-inspired to turn up their practice a couple notches to incorporate some new goals.

    Thanks for opening up the discussion!

    • Hi,
      I’m a guy and I am agree about your point of view. Before sex, the one thing appealing me is esthetic. For most of the people this is esthetic of her body, of her shape and the flow she follows. But there is also esthetic in what you saw in that video: her story, the tale of her potential life.
      Moreover I think that Yoga is an old philosophy to clean up from old and false
      beliefs. Last decades world has fiercely changed and Yoga should adapt itself to
      it. Progress has brought up a lot of good things.Neuroscience is starting to search human brain and mind-body problem which is leading to Yoga philosophy. Technologies has brought us to a start in the freedom of thinking, freedom of being oneself. A way to understand who we are, what exactly enlightenment is and how to live in a better world.
      But we have to adapt ourselves to this new world. We have to strengthen and to make more flexible our body and our spirit in order to be more adaptable. And yogis are privileged people to follow the stream of life throw evolution of human kind.

      Long live all pelvis, not only female ones!
      alEx

      Homo Equilibrium – Next stage in Human Evolution

      • Cellavy, I love what you pointed out about the different lines of esthetic running through the video! Thanks. That further clarifies something for me!

        And yes I, too, think that yoga needs to adapt. The thought started for me from your comment has to do with yoga potentially creating refreshed scenarios for life. The Equinox video perpetuates patriarchy, and conventional symbols of power: mussed bed with man relaxing, city views, beautiful woman exercising (to look good for him before she perhaps makes breakfast to feed everybody…)

        Maybe yoga somehow offers the potential for new narratives to be explored—in media and life off camera…

        Long live the pelvis!

    • Hi Elyse! Thanks for sharing that. I commented as “yogabrooks” a couple of days ago. I’m not sure how you feel about all of this, but I’m glad you thought about it.

      And about the HuffPo piece: I think that it’s really interesting to read about the lives of models, but that piece doesn’t address what I’ve touched on here. The message in the title puts me off though: “stop judging.” Are we trained monkeys or what? Modes of cultural production are super powerful, and I think it’s important to consider what we are seeing (especially considering how power structures and gender rules are enforced) rather than just lapping everything up like good kitties!

      • Hi again Brooks,

        This start to be an interesting conversation!
        You asked: “Are we trained monkeys or what?”. Swami Vivekananda, one of the man who put back Yoga on the tracks, has written in the introduction of his book “Raja Yoga”:
        “…in many instances, the power of control is very little higher than that of the lower animals. We have very little command on our minds…”.
        I only quote these few words to not to go to far but the preceding and the following is very interesting if not essential. I recommend the reading of this book. I will just add up than he spoke at the Parliament of Religion at the end of 19th in a very peaceful way and with a lot of tolerance for all humans whatever their beliefs.

        Latest research in neuroscience tend to confirm and to prove his point of view. Almost all our decision are unconscious and we are so close to animals in our behavior. But what is paradoxical is that animals do not judge. This is human behavior! Funny isn’t it ?

        Long live the yoginic pelvis (tautological thought).

        alEx

  2. I completely agree, I posted something very recently as well regarding this subject. It was also the shots that were not yogic that I found to be offensive. The one you posted is a prime example! This isn’t empowering to women.

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