Sun salutations, sizeism, sexism and scumbaggery

By the end of this horrible, un-yogic apology you will be lying in savasana on your floor. (See what I did there.)

THE BACKSTORY:

Earlier this week, in a 20,000-member closed Facebook group for yoga teachers, a fat yoga teacher (I use the word “fat” as a descriptor, with no value judgment) posted this: What is svadhyaya, you may ask? Yoga Journal defines it as “self-reflection.” Yoga is mental as well as physical; svadhyaya helps us see our true selves. “If we are willing to look at behaviors, motivations, and strategies we habitually use to maintain our own self-image, we can use svadhyaya to pierce through the veil that this self-image creates and into the nature of our own essential being,” the magazine writes. “Svadhyaya suggests that we can use all of our activities—solitary and relational—as mirrors in which to discover something important about ourselves and that we can use what we discover as valuable information in the process of arriving at a deeper self-understanding. Finally, the ultimate purpose of svadhyaya is to function as a mirror reminding us of our higher potential—in other words, as a way into the interior where our true Self resides.”

That sounds very elevated! Alas, while many teachers liked the post, many others felt that it was not worded nicely! The tone was too aggressive! One respondent declared, “90% of the people here are offended by your post.” The original poster (henceforth to be known as OP) replied calmly, 

WELP. That set our 90-percenter off. Behold. THE “APOLOGY”

Randy posted the following on his own FB page, not in the group. He has not apologized to the OP, unless she somehow missed his emails and DMs while she was off imbuing a four-state area with her vaginal fragrance.


THE OP’s RESPONSE (as told to Snarly in a telephone interview):

“That’s not an apology; that’s a blame-pology. He blames me for his complete loss of control. I just thought, ‘Oh, honey, no — you picked the wrong bitch.’ This kind of fat-shaming happens all the time. The way the social contract works is that if you’re a person in a larger body, you’re not supposed to make a fuss; you’re not supposed to make anyone uncomfortable about their fat-phobia; you’re never supposed to be angry…because you’re supposed to be ashamed. And that’s a script I’m not willing to engage in anymore.”

THE ANALYSIS OF APOLOGY SUCKAGE:

  1. “inconsiderate of how other people may feel”: Minimize much, Randy? People “may feel” bad to be told they have a smelly cunt? The word “may” does not belong in your apology. You DID offend.
  2. Second paragraph: Good apology words, except “weighs very heavy on my heart.” Not about you, fella. And if it actually did weigh heavy on your heart, you’d apologize to the woman you suggested had stopped engaging with you because she’d died from choking on food.
  3. Third paragraph: OFF THE RAILS AGAIN! Telling someone they offended “90 percent of the people” in a group is not “friendly.” The “insulting rebuttals” were a mere, mild request to examine your fury and word choices. Other people in the group noted that what you said was horrifying; she did not.
  4. WHAT THE FUCK WITH THE FRUIT METAPHOR, RANDY. It took a few tries for me to understand your “colorful, humorous, and fruitful” analogy, but it seems you are saying that the strawberry is “soooo offended” by other fruit because other fruit have internal rather than external seeds, and strawberries demand more attention even though they are only five feet of them in a whole orchard. I cannot believe I’m about to analyze a metaphor this shitty, but here goes: If strawberries are fat people and other fruits are “normal” people, strawberries who are upset that their internal seeds are not respected is NOT THE SAME as fat people who are upset that they are not welcome or accommodated in yoga classes. Your metaphor sucks because ALL FRUIT HAVE SEEDS. Not all people are welcome in yoga classes. Inside vs outside seeds is a visual difference; fat people are not just visually different — they have different exercise needs. Other fruit — I mean, yoga teachers, DAMMIT RANDY — have to be aware of how to adapt poses for students with big boobs or bellies. Back in the day when I practiced Iyengar yoga, the instructor was open to practitioners with specific concerns about knees or hips, carpal tunnel issues, poor balance, old age. The classes were still hard as hell (Iyengar is about strength and proper form and holding poses until you freeze like a lava-covered dog in Pompeii) but they were not dismissive of physical difference. And Randy? Are ALL THE OTHER FRUIT the same fruit? Are you aware that in reality fruit come in different colors and shapes and ripening schedules and some are hard to grow and some are not, and MAYBE EACH KIND OF FRUIT TAKES UP ONLY FIVE FEET IN THE METAPHOR ORCHARD BUT THEY ARE ALL DELICIOUS AND DESERVE RESPECT AND TOGETHER THESE FIVE-FOOT PLOTS MAKE UP THE WHOLE GARDEN? Unless you’re saying aaaalllll the other fruit are thin, white and able-bodied, like…DAMMIT WHAT THE HELL IS A THIN WHITE FRUIT? (If anyone in the comments makes a David Bowie joke you are permanently banned.) FUCK IT LET’S PRETEND WHITE ASPARAGUS ARE A FRUIT AND SAY IF YOU’RE ONLY CHOOSING TO PLANT, EAT AND TEACH WHITE ASPARAGUS YOU ARE MAKING YOUR CULINARY WORLD TOO DAMN SMALL.
  5. The original poster did not “insult” or “attack” you. Other people were horrified by what you said and responded accordingly, but you seem to understand that the woman you spewed misogyny and sizeism at deserves an apology. You did call your words to her “disgusting,” “offensive” and “rude.” And yet you haven’t apologized to her. You’ve only contributed this performative fruit-centric post.
  6. “the whole an eye for an eye thing” — really? You see equivalence here?
  7. “we all still have a great bit of learning and growing to do” — nope. “All?” Again with the equivalency. A good apology is about what you did. Not other people. Only you.
  8. “I have struggled with bullies my whole life”: TINY VIOLIN, NOT RELEVANT.
  9. “any hurt I may have created”: No may, bud. You did.

THE REACTION (+ A SUGGESTION FROM THE SORRYWATCHERS):

Many teachers defended Randy. He apologized! What do the haters want, a pound of flesh? It’s not yogic to be so angry! Move on! Some folks who knew him noted that he loves and worries about fat people in his life. They noted that he and his girlfriend have a small baby and he is probably tired. You know what? From an apology perspective, BIG WHOOP. A good apology names the sin instead of alluding vaguely to it, takes responsibility, makes no excuses, explains how and why the behavior won’t recur.  It might sound something like this:

“I am so sorry. I’m sorry to OP and to everyone who witnessed the horrible, misogynistic, fat-phobic things I said here yesterday. I called OP unforgiveable names. I said I could smell her cunt four states away. I said I suspected she was refusing to engage with me because she’d choked to death on her third breakfast. I said a lot more. There are no excuses. It’s ironic, perhaps, that what set me off was OP’s call for svadhyaya; svadhyaya is precisely what I failed to engage in. I can’t apologize enough to all of you…and [girlfriend], I am so sorry about what I did to you. You gave me the gift of letting me teach in your studio, and I betrayed you with my despicable name-calling. I realize that my behavior puts your business and good name at risk. I promise I will not teach at your studio — or anywhere else — until I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, as OP originally recommended. I’m going to watch the videos she mentioned. I’m going to read books about bias in the health-care, diet and fitness industries. I welcome everyone’s suggestions of sources. And I know this isn’t enough. The fact that so many of you rushed to forgive me, and lashed out at her for expressing a valid point of view that was actually proved by what ensued here, means you should be engaging in svadhyaya too. But this is about me, not you. OP, I’m sorry. If there’s something else I should be doing to try to make things right, please DM me or take me to task here, publicly.

THE AFTERMATH: 

For a few hours, the studio where Randy taught — which is co-owned and run by the person whose name I covered in Randy’s post, who is also his girlfriend — took down its page. Then Randy took down or hid his personal page, on which he’d shared that gross apology (and where he’d deleted all critical comments, leaving only those calling him a prince among men). The studio’s page returned, with this post:

The owner of the studio, Randy’s girlfriend, also reached out the OP directly. To apologize. Her words were lovely and a bit heartbreaking (because why was she apologizing for her partner’s bad behavior?) and showed that she actually is clueful about fat bias and what yoga can and should be. Unlike OP, though (who is a friend of a friend of a friend), she did not give me permission to share. (I have no compunction about sharing Randy’s social media bullshit because we spotlight good and bad apologies here, and in fact we DESPERATELY SEEK GOOD ONES, should you hear of any, and we would have loved to applaud Randy for apologizing well, and the fact that he denied us this pleasure is ON HIM.)

Suffice it to say that by insuring that her boyfriend will not teach at her studio, and contacting OP with truly lovely expressions of sorrow and thoughtfulness, girlfriend has gone above and beyond. Her studio shouldn’t be penalized for her boyfriend’s behavior, and she should know that a lot of people see her as a good person in a bad situation.

Svadhyaya for everyone, please.

 

 

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7 Responses to Sun salutations, sizeism, sexism and scumbaggery

  1. tanita says:

    NO! Don’t apologize for him!!!
    Geez, I know she meant well – and wanted to do the right thing – but I wish she hadn’t taken on his nasty mouth onto herself, even as the business owner. On a personal note, is not girlfriend also tired with small baby???? Maybe doing the majority of work with small baby, even? And yet. And yet.

    This just reminds me to stay the hell out of yoga and all of those tiny-majority-culture-lady body practices and just put on my walking shoes.

  2. Susan Oliver says:

    >>On a personal note, is not girlfriend also tired with small baby???? Maybe doing the majority of work with small baby, even?

    Oh man, tanita, you are probably right! Which – I can’t even get started.

    The guy’s writing puts him firmly in the troll camp. I am now amazed the camp is large enough to accommodate yoga instructors.

  3. Deborah says:

    Why not share the name of the studio where he teaches publicly?
    So that the public understands when they go in that door – they will be dealing with a malignant narcissist?

    • snarly says:

      As the post notes, he doesn’t teach there anymore. The studio did the right thing. They should be rewarded, not punished.

  4. Daniel Wise says:

    Situations and bad behaviour like this almost make me want to totally disassociate with the modern day yoga movement. Pitiful.

  5. Barbara says:

    Excellent Sorrywatch analysis of a very sorry situation. As a long time yoga practitioner, I’m horrified that this dude was *ever* a yoga intructor, and even more shocked by the apparent response of other teachers to OP’s very heartfelt and useful suggestions.

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