Following on from my post about the more superficial aspects of yoga in the West, this piece is about our obsession with style over substance.
I recently read about an experiment by an American student, who wanted to see if people reacted differently to her depending on whether she was wearing make-up or not. The results were interesting; when she wore no make-up, people commented on how tired she looked, when she wore a little, she was told she looked pretty, and in full make was asked if she was going out straight after class. This albeit limited research shows how image obsessed society has become. Both men and women commented on her look, and the no-make day wasn’t one full of complements! Both sexes felt she looked better with make-up on.
I never wear make-up, primarily because I can’t be bothered. That’s not to say I don’t care about how I look. I love clothes and always dress well (I hope!) and make sure my hair looks good but make-up is just too much. Besides, I would rather spend all the money that would otherwise go on lipstick, on books, music and films. However, when I reflect upon this I realise that I tend to get complements on what I’m wearing but not how I look. And I’m sure many would argue that lack of make-up equals lack of male attention.
Yoga teaches us that while we may do our asana practice to gain mastery over the body that is only so we can do the same with the mind. The outer shell which we worship over the individual inside, will fade with time. While the more eye-catching shells on the beach are admired the most and carried home in bags and pockets, their beauty is no greater than those left behind on the sand.