Rants and Whimsy

Yoga and sexism in the 1970s

March 31, 2015

Back in the 70s, my mother became a bit of yoga nut. She did classes, she wore leotards, she bought books. She yogied with the best of them. One of the books she purchased circa 1972 features an absolutely stunning Indian lady who shows you all kinds of nifty and useful yoga poses while wearing numerous gorgeous bikinis. She looks good, she knows it and she celebrates by wearing a bikini as much as humanly possible. I’m down with that. She takes the reader step by step through numerous positions to make you more bendy, flexible, supple and just generally fitter I suppose. It’s a well worn book, so my mother obviously got a lot of use out of it.

As it’s the early 70s, our bikinied heroine is also getting little bit interested in women’s lib and equality of the sexes. This is where the whole thing becomes terribly confused. I’ve gone through the entire 96 pages and picked out the best bits and added in some sarcasm just to get me through the overwhelming NOPE that’s just pouring out of my mouth. Just look how far we’ve come:


An excerpt from the intro. Love, sex, children and home can offer women total fulfillment. Says this woman who works as a successful yoga instructor. “Try being more of a woman if you want him to be more of a man”. What does this even mean? I thought I was a max level woman, simply by being born a woman, identifying as one an progressing in age to adulthood. Apparently I was wrong. What would I know? I’m currently letting myself go (crazy with chocolate cake!)


Don't Be A Fatty

Don’t Be A Fatty. That’s the advice here. “Men lose weight to be healthy, women to improve their appeal”. You don’t need to worry about health as long as you have the superficial approval of the opposite sex. Really, the only reason women tend to live longer than men is so men never have to live alone without someone to make them a sandwich. But don’t you go eating any of those sandwiches, fatty.


Bust Appeal

Men may lose weight to be healthy, but they go to the office to be continually surprised by your magical tits.


Showing Off

“Every girl is a exhibitionist”. Every. Girl. Show us your body or GTFO.


Don't Go To Waist

Feeling neglected? Can’t find a date? Boyfriend not paying enough attention to your relationship? It’s the fault of your thick waist, you fat cow. Sort it out. (Side note, how many eye rolls is too many eye rolls? Could I be causing permanent damage? I feel they may be about to roll out of my damned head).


Trendy Dresser

“You can’t wear the latest gear if you are overweight”. I don’t care if they sell it in a size 16, back to your grandmother’s wardrobe with you. Don’t even think about removing that twin set until that waist is trim, ya hear me?!


Barely Innocent

Barely innocent? Not even gonna go into that, just wanted to point out that exposing your midriff is actually ridiculously easy at any size. You simply shove on a crop top and voila! Your midriff is exposed. Simples.


Curvaceous Kitten

This is true. I am exactly like a kitten. Sleeping and eating is my life. Aside from that I have no idea what she’s going on about. “Your waist needs to be slim enough for him to get his protective arm around you!” Is she dating a T-Rex? Because it sounds like she’s dating a T-Rex. Men with longer arms, girl, they exist!


Love to Trim

Sometimes I feel that there’s just not enough sarcasm in the world to deal with this kind of shit.

“Every sensible girl is serious about shape”. Being hot and skinny is what makes you loveable. Don’t go thinking you’re loveable because you’re a human being or anything. Women aren’t people. Women are simply an assortment of body parts strategically arranged for the viewing pleasure of whatever man is close at hand. And they fucking hate it when you eat the cheesecake.


Fabulous Thighs

You can’t afford to neglect your thighs! Just in case you were under the misapprehension that your relationship was based on a foundation of friendship, affection and trust, know that he’s actually busy judging your hips. Because hips and thighs that don’t fit to some arbitrary definition of perfection are utterly unacceptable. Being happy in your own skin is overrated, obviously you need a man to be happy with your skin first. Everything else is secondary.


Hot Pants

Whether or not hot pants will stay in vogue! The big question of yesteryear! Also, who knew that Women’s Lib was so demanding of a shapely bottom? Bloody feminism. Always increasing the amount of body parts I need to improve in order to accepted into human society with men. Ugh.


New Youth

Remember your youth? How excited you were about how small your arse was?


Cute and Curvaceous

“Dumpy bottoms and fat thighs won’t earn you many loving looks this summer”. We all know that the only reason you bother going outside at all is for the lecherous looks. Don’t miss out on any by neglecting your trimming regime!


Calorie Control

If you even consider letting your arse get a little rounder he will walk off with someone else. Smaller bottomed women are lining up to take your man! Wait, what’s that you say? You’ve already started storing a bit of junk in your trunk? Sweet jesus! Quickly cut anything you actually enjoy out of your diet, now! Now! No fun for you, you unlovable mess!


For the leg man

What’s that? Your man is admiring of a physical trait you don’t possess? Let’s pretend we can just fix that with stretching! Yay! Because why should he go without?


Ankles to Turn Their Heads

Thought you were clever, did you? Thought you could hide your hideous body under a big old mound of CLOTHING? Well, not even the maxi could hide your disgusting chubby ankles. “So you really must try”.


Wet Look

Women’s Lib marches. Great for building up the calves.


Nothing Secret

Don’t forget you’re a woman. It is the kind of thing that just casually slips your mind. Remember, men can tell if you’re not constantly thinking about your womanliness. They will judge you. Just chant “Tits, Vagina, XX Chromosomes, Self Identification as a Woman” (delete as appropriate) over and over in your head and you should be right.


Stepping Out

Thankfully, men don’t carry tape measures around with them. Unless you’re dating a tailor.

Never date a tailor.


You've Got Style

Yet another exercise to help you attract lustful looks from yobs in the street. Apparently some women don’t feel they’re getting enough of that when they venture out to pay the council tax.


Good Vibrations

In a mood because blood is literally pouring from your vagina and your insides are cramping to fuck? Feel like a hoard of gremlins have gotten inside you and started chewing up your uterus? Well dammit woman, you best remember to be fun! No one’s interested in your monthly hormonal nonsense, especially if it’s killing his buzz.

(Also, isn’t it Kama Sutra? Not really my area of expertise, but I thought…)


Dont Be Frigid

Finally, we have the all important reminder not to be frigid. Apparently, men all like sex. But when women become too ‘masculine’ they become frigid. Whooda thunk it? Just know that if you’re not totally gagging for it from your man you’re practically Darth Vader.


Yeah. You can stabilise your rolling eyes now. It’s a pretty special book, huh? The interesting thing is that this is by a woman who claimed to be all for equality of the sexes and Women’s Lib. But she was so brainwashed by traditional gender roles and sexist folklore she couldn’t get past the “women are pretty things for men to look at” trope. We’ve come so far in the last 40 years.

I know I haven’t shown you many of the photos in the book, but the truly scary thing is that if these pics were to be taken today she would probably be called ‘curvy’ or ‘full figured’ due to her wide hips and lack of thigh gap. Maybe one day we can all just have bodies and be free to be happy with them, without the judgement express charging in and smashing it’s way through our self esteem. Just a thought.

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