I guess I might as well say it. I’m a white woman that does yoga. And if you read the recent xoJane piece about a white woman that encountered a “heavyset” black woman in her yoga class, you might think that all aspiring white yogis are the next Mother Teresa. Or something.
The gist of the supposedly touching story is this: The
token white girl goes to yoga class, which she considers to be her special, special place.
Already, you’ve lost me. I like yoga a lot, but I don’t feel like I own it like an Olympic gold medalist or anything. I also consider my cozy bed my special, special place and probably wouldn’t give other people the side-eye for attending my special, special yoga class—but back to the story.
Token white girl goes to yoga, and it’s all kinds of crowded. She sees what she describes as a “young, fairly heavy black woman” that takes the space right behind her. According to Judgy McJudgerton Von White, “It appeared she had never set foot in a yoga studio—she was glancing around anxiously, adjusting her clothes, looking wide-eyed and nervous.”
Maybe this was true, but maybe the woman just wanted to start her yoga class in peace without someone staring at her with a slack jaw and bug eyes. Just a thought. But apparently this Caucasian yoga lover can read minds because she went on to describe every single thing the black woman was supposedly thinking with each yoga pose.
According to the white yoga girl, the black woman felt PANIC! DESPAIR! RESENTMENT! CONTEMPT! I don’t know about you, but this is reading a lot into a person’s facial expressions. I spend every day with my husband, and I’ve never read despair on his face, even when he can’t open that sticky packaging on the cheese after several tries. (FRUSTRATION!)
Surprise, surprise, this random Caucasian yoga girl began to feel all kinds of self-conscious in front of the black lady. She felt that the woman was noticing her and stereotyping her, as she imagined. She also went on to empathize/whine about putting herself in the heavyset black woman’s shoes. She ultimately went home and broke down crying because yoga was her safe place, and she, in her words, self-importantly believed herself to be the deserving target of racially charged anger.
WHAT THE WHAT? I drew nothing like that out of the story. I’ve read it several times, and I still have no idea what was going on. I’ve gone to yoga class, and I’ve rarely ever looked deep into the souls of the other people around me. If someone’s staring at me, I just assume it’s because of my stylish yoga camel toe, and I shake it off.
The backlash that ensued surrounding the story is hilarious, and thank God for that. Here are some of the best tweets:
Let’s end with this. The world is not all about you, and I don’t see race being an issue in this scenario whatsoever. Also, don’t stare at people for more than a few seconds—it freaks them out.
UPDATE: XoJane was onto our stealthy yoga journalism and wrote a rebuttal piece from writer Pia. Now they get even more traffic for writing a super-obvious rebuttal and IHTM: This Shit Is Annoying.