Showing posts with label critical thinking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label critical thinking. Show all posts

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ten Things you NEED to Tell Yourself (a big EFF YOU to Dove)

The Yoga Culture is a tricky place to navigate when it comes to body image and self-acceptance. The very activity of yoga attracts naturally bendy, lithe, young and slim bodies and the multi-billion dollar clothing and accoutrement industry (like typical capitalistic patriarchal companies) rely heavily on bombarding consumers with a "yoga body type ideal" that is unrealistic (and arguably detrimental to women's sense of self worth and acceptance).

The recent Dove commercial "Real Beauty Sketches" have been making the rounds on facebook, with their fair share of criticisms (please read Little drops post on this, it's like she read my mind.... creepy). If you don't feel like reading the awesome post at Little drops, needless to say I find the video ridiculously patronizing and that it perpetuates the damaging social culture of external beauty above all else for self worth.

Ugh, can't we step out of the box for a second Dove? I wouldn't be so disappointed if so many people weren't attaching themselves to the video as if it were just so 'GOOD' of them. As if they weren't just continuing an external self-worth which conveniently allows them to sell their product (which will make our skin so beautiful). And do I have to point out that Dove is owned by Unilever... who also owns AXE- a company that produces THE most offensive patriarchal and sexist advertisements? (and has been criticized for their highly polluting and toxic products).

Women are often made to feel like we shouldn't go on about how awesome we are, it's often about what we give... about others (our children, our partners, our friends and family). As narcissistic as the next bit may seem, Eff it. We need this.

So. Here is MY "Real Love" challenge to you, readers. (it's a two part'er):
1. List TEN things you love about yourself that have nothing to do with your physical external self (in the comment section, or write a blog post and share it here)
2. Compliment 3 female friends on something INTRINSIC to their personality that you love.

Here are my top 10:
I love...
1. My Passionate Self.
She's the reason for my feminism, my commitment to the environment and my refusal to be discriminated against because of my genitals. She effing rocks.

2. My Opinionated Self.
All the haters can eff off, having a strong opinion makes me a strong, leadership-driven, person.

3. My Sensitive, Emotional Self.
Whatever, I love that I cry at ridiculously sappy commercials (or topics). It helps with my ability to be empathetic and it balances out my awesome Opinionated Self.

4. My Geek Self.
I adore science fiction (Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars- it is all awesome). That makes me ridiculously interesting.

5. My Voice.
For singing, for talking (with my soft Acadian French accent that's barely discernable).

6. My Silly Self.
Yes I may be 31 years old, but I think it's fantastic that I don't take myself that seriously, that I love to dance terribly in the kitchen, make silly faces or laugh at myself. I know I'm smart and successful, I don't have the urge to constantly remind others of that.

7. My Intelligent Self
Yep, I am a smart lady. I have finally grown into my smartness, and love that it is balanced by my silliness.

8. My Raunchy Foul Mouth
It's fun to swear. What else can I say?

9. My Acadian Self
I am so proud to come from such a rich and strong cultural heritage. Despite the haters, I ADORE my Acadian French, including the fact that I can codeswitch like nobody's business. That takes skill.

10. My Friends and Family. 
I know this seems external, but my friends, husband and family make me so incredibly happy and complete. My love for them is something I treasure. It's cool to actively LIKE (and LOVE) someone without shame, without reservation.

Ok, your turn!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guest Post by Mi'kmaq Mama: Fashion Divides. Fashion Unites.

Back in March I wrote a post on cultural appropriation in the yoga world, specifically regarding First Nations fashion. That post was the result of inner musings, twitter convos and a fabulous conversation with Mi'kmaq Mama over coffee last fall.

As today is Beltane: a time of peace, spirituality and new beginnings, I'm very excited to share a thought provoking and heartfelt post by Mi'kmaq Mama on cultural appropriation and the recent hipster (and yoga) fashion trends. I thank her for sharing her knowledge and perspective and hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.

Fashion Divides. Fashion Unites.
You walk into a clothing store and you see it – the perfect outfit. It’s the right color, style and shape to complement your skin tone and body type. You describe the design to your friend as rustic and tribal. “It’s even outlined with fringe. Fringe is in this year!” You anticipate her reaction to be full of excitement. After all, she’s Mi’kmaq so wouldn’t she be excited you are wearing this type of clothing? Your friend pauses, not sure how to react.

Cultural appropriation is the borrowing of materials from another culture. I would argue that it is in fact the stealing of ideas from another culture, taken without permission nor understanding of its significance. 

What if a clothing designer spotted the Pope’s mitre (ceremonial headdress) and thought, “Hey! That looks neat!” Or eyed a Jewish man’s kippa (head covering) and said to themselves “that’s cool!” Then, without talking to anyone from the Catholic or Jewish faiths about the significance of each headdress or covering, decided to design a trendy and fashionable version for everyone to wear? What if that happened? If you are Catholic how would you feel? … If you are Jewish how would you feel? … about everyone wearing something of religious meaning, honor and respect, as a fashion fade? What would you think if Victoria Secret models walked down the runway wearing a mitre or kippa while they modeled lingerie? Outraged, I’m sure. Indigenous people were outraged to see a lingerie model adorned with an Indigenous headdress walk the run way in Nov 2012.

I know what you are thinking, “but my yoga outfit only has fringes, fringes aren’t culturally significant.” Or “but my shirt has a tribal motif, that’s not sacred.” How do you know that? Let’s consider for a moment the message you send to anyone with Aboriginal heritage when you wear mass produced clothing made in a foreign country, by foreign workers, created by foreign designers who have no connections to or business relationship with an Aboriginal community or organization. 

As someone of Aboriginal heritage, the message is clear: “I think your cultural designs look cool, so I’m going to wear them while it’s still a fashion trend. I assume your culture was consulted, otherwise they wouldn’t sell clothing like this, right?” My response, “since when was it cool to look like a member of an oppressed and marginalize group in society? … to proclaim that your parents and grandparents were stolen and beaten in residential school, that governments are committing genocide against your people disguised as legislation, and that your identity requires permission from those who have committed these crimes.

“Hold on! That’s not what I meant,” you respectfully protest. What you were hoping to communicate through the clothing was a sense of unity and shared pride in the respect for our cultural ways. There are better ways to do that. Let’s figure this out together. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Purchase clothing from authentically Aboriginal owned business. There are many Aboriginal designers and clothing retailers around. Honor their hard work and dedication by purchasing their products, even if it means spending more money. (Lisa's note: this applies to aboriginal artists: I just discovered a mindblowing Canadian First Nations DJ group of electronic powwow: "A Tribe Called Red"- check them out!). Examples: "Beyond Buckskin" and "National Aboriginal Fashion Week".

  2. Look for companies who honestly partner with, I mean truly consult and partner with, an Aboriginal artist, community, or organization. Product labels will acknowledge and give credit to all their partners for their contributions. Look for information about how the Aboriginal community was involved.

  3. When you purchase items such as dream catchers, jewelry, crafts, etc. please check the label. Ensure it was made by an authentic Aboriginal artist. Be smart. If you are looking at this item in a Dollar Store, or department store, chances are the artist was not Aboriginal, right? Be a wise shopper, not a cheap one. If such items can only be purchased by visiting a First Nation community, then by all means do so - it is a journey worth taking.
Remember! Settlers survived in this new country they “discovered” not because they had the skills and knowledge to do so, but because the local Indigenous people were kind, compassionate, and friendly. And we continue to be that way.

Honor our legacy past and present.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eco Yoga Mats Don't Suck

A little birdie over on another yoga blog site created some discussion regarding the usefulness of investing in an 'eco' yoga mat. The perspective was really two-fold: that eco yoga mats are of poor quality compared to pvc and thus won't last long and that owning an eco yoga mat is an empty eco-gesture.

I claim false on both accounts.

Let's take a closer look shall we?

Myth 1: Eco Yoga mats are of lesser quality than pvc.

Firstly, I'd have to say that those yogis who report cycling through their 'eco' yoga mats within a few months or under a year of practice have a few things they should elaborate. Stating what type of 'eco' mat is important. There are some poor quality rubber mats out there (just like there are some crappy pvc mats). Also, exposing your rubber mat to the sun will further increase the breakdown of the rubber. TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) yoga mats aren't even truly 'eco' (check out 'My mat is made of copolymers' for more deets on TPE greenwashing), also accelerated flaking from sun exposure and are of lesser quality.

However, Jade Harmony (and my prAna revolution mat) are both higher quality and if cared for properly should last the length of your yoga practice.

Further, for the most part they're yoga instructors who partake in a full daily practice (or even several times of day). Hold up your hand if you practice a vigorous, hand gripping, foot sliding and body jumping asana 5 to 7 days a week (or more). Keep your hand up if you're a yoga instructor. Although becoming a yoga instructor is becoming the new 'it' thing, they remain a small percentage of yogi practitioners and do NOT represent the typical yogi.

The slippery complaint really just has to do with the first few practices and use. It fades away and I only ever notice a bit more 'slip' after I wash my mat- it goes away after the first post-wash practice.

Myth 2: Eco Yoga Mats are an empty environmental gesture and don't really make a difference.

According to different sources (most recently npr) between twenty and thirty MILLION people practice yoga in the United States alone. If we're conservative and add another 10 million for Canada, maybe another 10 million globally and take the lower USA number- that's 40 million people with a yoga mat. 40 MILLION YOGA MATS. (and that doesn't include studio mats and those people who have two, or three mats)

The Manduka black mat weighs 7lbs.

That's 280 million pounds or 127 005 metric tonnes of PVC

Polyvinyl chloride (pvc) yoga mats last forever because of just that- plastic lasts FOREVER. By this I mean not one piece of plastic ever created that hasn't been burned (releasing toxic flames into the air we breathe) since the 1960's has yet to disappear from this world. Every single piece of plastic is still in existence, either in complete original form leaching chemicals into the soil where it rests, off gassing into the inhabitant's home or has been transformed into tiny plastic bubbles (nurdles) that are being ingested by aquatic life and thus eventually humans (The World Without Us, Alan Weisman).

Since as far as we can tell plastic will last forever, and pvc is one of the most difficult plastics to recycle (Greenpeace) many pvc mats will end up in the landfill. Often landfills catch on fire, and once pvc burns it releases an extremely toxic chemical called dioxins. These chemicals have been found to be extremely dangerous to humans (known carcinogen) and bioaccumulate- discovered in the majority of American women's breast milk (wiki and Ecoholic 2006).

Your pvc yoga mat will continue to pollute this earth after you and your yoga practice move on to the next part of your spirit journey.

During her amazing lecture at Dalhousie University on Monday, Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke of the social culture of 'individual vs community' in response to the question: "How can we make a difference?". She answered that the competitiveness and corporate culture of the western world has encouraged the false belief that we are alone. That we are individuals.

This isn't true. We are not single individuals; as a social being we interact, we communicate, we create change. We are part of a community of ever increasing circles in this pond we call our home.

280 million pounds of toxic pvc isn't insignificant. Making the decision to bring your yoga practice into alignment with ahimsa (non-harming) of our planet and our health isn't insignificant.

Instead of fostering a feeling of helplessness, or isolation, we need to start recognizing our amazing ability to connect and foster change. 

And that's why Eco Yoga Mats Don't Suck.

article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Electric Car- A Miracle Cure or Mirage?

A confession? I have an un-eco obsession with gas guzzling cars/trucks. Although speed is great, it's not lamborginis or Ferraris that do it, but those ridiculously large, duel-y diesel engine, quad cab pick-up trucks that make me drool. I want to drive one. I park my little fuel efficient jelly-bean of a car next to them. I have spent years mourning the loss of ever owning one (the Planet isn't worth it).
an example of my dream truck. I am a rural girl at heart.

Initially, like many environmentally conscious peeps, I was quite excited by the prospect that our second vehicle (once the Yaris goes caput in, say, another 5 years) will be electric. Nova Scotia is *so* car dependent that it's difficult to function outside of university without a car. Recently, it appears like perhaps the electric car is doing the whole "Phoenix from ashes", with governments and eco-organizations touting this rise as the miracle cure to all our carbon spewing woes.

(Nissan LEAF)
You don't have to give up your car-dependancy lifestyle- just plug 'er in! Guilt and carbon-free!

Except... is it really that simple?

According to Ecoholic, the average car produces between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds of climate-changing carbon dioxide every year. Along with carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and hydrocarbons this toxic mess contribute in a big way to "smog" (which kills thousands a year in large cities).

The Nissan LEAF (recently introduced in Canada) has a grand total of ZERO emissions while operating. If we switched the majority of cars to electric vehicles we'd be saving our lungs from breathing in thousands upon thousands of pounds of toxins.

Beyond all the logistical "arguments" that I've heard (cost and lifespan of lithium battery, charging stations and infrastructure) which all have fabulous answers (at the end of the lifespan of the battery, 8-10 years, batteries will be cheaper, customer demand will result in infrastructure plus you can charge the car in a 120 voltage outlet anyway), there are some pretty serious *big picture* issues that need to be honestly addressed.

We are much too dependant on single occupant vehicle transportation. Despite all the progress with electric vehicles, the industry still needs quite a bit of research (longer lasting, more easily accessible and cheaper batteries, infrastructure etc) and lets be honest; the industry will take a good 10 years to make a significant switch. Do we really have 10 years to keep on our merry, polluting way?

It's concerning that so much energy be placed on the electric car as our climate change saviour- but at some distant future. Instead, our government could be encouraging use and improving public transportation and/or bicycle lanes. If the average driver travels less than 60 km a day, than a public transportation system that was efficient, clean and reliable would do just the trick.

Finally... we do conveniently forget where that electricity comes from. In Nova Scotia, most of the electricity is generated from coal plants. Although other provinces have better track records (New Brunswick actually has a few nuclear, zero emission, plants), we're far from "clean" energy.

(for a fantastic discussion on this topic, head over to radio-canada's Christiane Charette with Pierre Olivier-Pineau, professor at HEC and expert in energy politics as well as co-founder of Quebec's Green Party, Daniel Breton. The catch? It's in French...)

I am not anti-electric car by a long shot. I'm looking forward to the day when Andrew and I will have a single vehicle family electric car. However, the tempting lure of a miracle pill that would allow my lazy bum to continue driving, continue consuming is too misleading. A mirage in our floundering climate desert.

Start bicycling, start walking.

article copyright of EcoYogini at

Monday, October 17, 2011

The House Hippo Life Lesson

Oh the House Hippo. I blame lost socks, papers and weird creaks on our House Hippo inhabitants.

House Hippos are an important lesson on critical thinking when it comes to the media. It most certainly was one of my first lessons on critical thinking just before university. How to ask the right questions.

House Hippos can teach us about many things.

Such as Greenwashing. Just because it's written, just because our media tells us, or just because you here it on the cbc doesn't make it true. Just because you read it on this blog (although... I AM pretty much an expert on House Hippos...).

They can teach us to question Body Image and how our media and society want us to *think* we should look like.

House Hippos can even teach us about Yoga. How it's portrayed in the media, how it's used and even sold.

The best House Hippo lesson? How to take a moment to examine and thoughtfully consider seemingly well-meaning, cyclic explanations and products. Like biodegradable coffee cups,  Clorox 'Greenworks' cleaning company, or tree-planting neat unnatural rows of soft woods to replace clear-cut rich and diverse forest.

Everyone needs a House Hippo.

article copyright of EcoYogini at