Today is, depending on your retail perspective, either Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day. I fall somewhere in the middle; I’m not one of those people who lines up outside Macy’s at some ungodly hour, but I may buy something. There is a long and important conversation about yoga and consumerism that continues to unfold. I think it’s important, but not today.
I will, however, use today to mention that for the foreseeable future, I will not be buying one solitary thing from Lululemon. For those who aren’t yoga dorks, the ubiquitous (and pricey) stretch pants makers were in the news a lot this week for deciding to house their wares in bags that say “Who is John Galt?” (Galt is the mysterious hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, patron saint of Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy, and now a hero to Tea Partiers and right wing ideologues everywhere.) I’ll send you to Yoga Dork for more, but this story was big enough to hit Forbes and NPR, and I don’t think this one is done.
I don’t write a political screed, or invite a lot of comments from trolling Randians. I had to read Atlas Shrugged in college, and I remember thinking that the ideas her ‘philosophy’ juvenile at best, and that this woman badly, badly needed an editor. Time and a little rereading hasn’t changed my opinion. Suffice to say that Objectivism, which seems to reject any, ANY place for kula or sangha has no place in how I practice yoga (neither does sweatshop labor), and I don’t want any part of a company that is trying to foist that worldview on me or other yogis. I would encourage all yogis to look carefully at what Lululemon has done, and ask if this is something you really want to be a party to. Because when you buy their stuff, it’s an implicit endorsement.
Disclaimer- I have lots of friend who are “ambassadors” for Lulu, or who buy a lot of their stuff. I have no problem with that whatsoever. This is simply what I’m choosing to do. If by some miracle Lulu asked me to be an ambassador, even a year ago I would have jumped on it; I understand. But now I would decline.
(The irony here is, Lulu’s stuff does indeed last forever- my first pair of their pants, bought in 2006, is just now starting to fray. I own a fair bit of it and can’t afford to replace it. So despite this, I’ll probably still be wearing their for quite some time.)
UPDATE 11/9/13: This just in- Lulu founder Chip Wilson says publicly what any woman over a size 8 can tell you- that Lululemon has a certain level of contempt for women’s bodies, and by extension the women who pay a lot of money for their clothes. I’m seeing a boycott Lulu post go viral. I’m in. (now, back to our post)
I will heartily endorse, however, the highly publicized “Small Business Saturday” initiative that Amex has gotten behind (and advertised to death on this week’s football games) encouraging everyone to shop local on Saturday. I will probably do some Christmas shopping then, perhaps a cool hat for my dad at Salamagundi, and certainly a (very belated birthday) gift certificate for my sister-in-law at her home studio, West Hartford Yoga. I would hasten to add that most studios, even the relatively big ones, definitely qualify as small businesses. (The only exceptions I can think of offhand are YogaWorks, CorePower and maybe, maybe Baptiste) You keep business local, and either get or give yoga. That, to me, is a win-win!
ADDENDUM: My friend Lola pointed me to this post on Slate. Worth pondering.