Twenty-nine-year-old activist Moira Johnston has gotten a lot of attention for strolling around Manhattan sans shirt recently. Her campaign (surprise, it’s not for PETA!) aims to remind New Yorkers that men aren’t the only ones who can shed clothes during a sweaty summer run—it’s legal for women to go topless, too. (It’s been on the books since 1992.)
But after running into Johnston (and her now somewhat-famous breasts) at the Times Square Yoga Solstice, we learned something interesting. Yoga, in fact, started it all.
“I was in a class at Jivamukti lying in savasana, and I suddenly just felt inclined to take my shirt off. I decided I wanted to try practicing topless,” Johnston explains. (I’m usually thinking, “Is it time to wiggle my toes yet?”)
Later, she says, she asked Sharon Gannon and managers at the studio if it was alright. They said no. She then did it anyway, and it wasn’t long before they had a staff member follow her into class to make sure she remained fully clothed. When she didn’t, they kicked her out and told her she wasn’t welcome back, she says.
Thought this was an interesting discussion topic. Thoughts?
It’s legal for women to be topless in New York (did you know?). But private studios are in the right to enforce a ‘no shirt, no class’ rule for all students. They tend to be more lenient towards men however, who frequently attend class sans shirt.
I’ll go right out and say it: I’m not down with topless students in MY yoga class. While some people are at peace with their bodies (and should be), I personally find it too distracting. I can’t help it: I’m a naked people looker. You put a naked person in front of me, and I’m either looking or trying not to look. Many people feel the same way.
Naked yoga classes are available for those who want to shed it all, and of course, you’re free to practice in the buff from home. Though changing, societal norms still dictate that women should cover their breasts (and men their penises) in public, legal or not (I’m not talking about breastfeeding here: I’m talking about public classes). While I do support her right to practice the way she wants, I believe she should opt for studios that are open to it, where all students are down with the naked.
There’s nothing wrong with the naked body. It’s not something to be ashamed of. But it’s also not something everyone wants to see when they go to yoga.
This story is causing a great discussion on sexuality, gender politics and whether or not rules should be enforced for everyone. If shirts are mandatory, that should mean the boys too, right? Would that be more satisfactory, or should everyone be allowed to go topless?