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"To elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness"
November 14, 2011 1:19 AM   Subscribe

lululemon athletica, the "yoga-inspired athletic apparel company", has rapidly become a brand fixture in the Pacific Northwest since its founding by Chip Wilson in 1998. Recently, a strange ode to Ayn Rand appeared on their website, and a "Who Is John Galt?" advertising campaign has adorned company packaging this November. Meanwhile, one of their employees has been convicted in the bizarre murder of a co-worker, in which the employees of a neighbouring Apple Store ignored the victim's cries for help.
posted by mek (111 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
John Galt was not someone who made his money selling trendy yoga pants.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:23 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


The blurb on the blog is just so much fridge magnet philosophy. It's an extension of the whole "dance, sing, floss, travel" mantra they have on their bags. I start glazing when I see this, and I actually like lululemon's gear and practice yoga.

Maybe if we can co-opt Ayn Rand to the side of the yogis, then the Tea Partiers will Godwin themselves still further.
posted by arcticseal at 1:30 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'll take right-wing cajoling for $400, Alex."

"For $400... Though dismissed by most readers as juvenalia, this fictional character has persevered as a totemic symbol for those whose back-brain cannibal philosophy puts them at odds with the rest of the literary tradition."
posted by metaman livingblog at 1:46 AM on November 14, 2011 [79 favorites]


The fashion industry is, of it's nature, antithetical to anything remotely Randist. If you don't know that, you don't know the rag trade. How fortunate for you! But it's a dog-eat-shit kind of business, so we should forgive even this attempt at finding a way to attract customers.

But really. Who is John Galt? Just some dufus, gazing into his own navel, apparently.
posted by Goofyy at 1:58 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple Shrugged
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 AM on November 14, 2011 [44 favorites]


You know, it doesn't suprise me that a guy worth $2.85 billion would find sustanance in the writings of Ayn Rand. That's what the writings of Ayn Rand are there for, to caress the egos of billionaires. It's just that lately I'm getting really sick of billionaires and all their helpful advice.
posted by biddeford at 2:06 AM on November 14, 2011 [39 favorites]


For every successful fan of Atlas Shrugged, there are about a million bitter losers. The winners attribute their success to Ayn Rand, the losers attribute their failure to... well, everyone else.

Sorta like every other religion, in that way.
posted by klanawa at 2:11 AM on November 14, 2011 [28 favorites]


I'm all for advertising that paints in impressionable young minds a picture of John Galt as a trendy yuppie wearing colorful yoga pants. The more absurd, the better.
posted by DaShiv at 2:16 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


E**** D*******
Wondering why this shopping bag from lululemon says "Who is John Galt?" on it. High end yoga clothes and Tea Party wouldn't seem to relate well...
Unlike · · Saturday at 16:05 via Mobile


Real life Facebook status update from of my friends.


A consensus was reached after reading the synopsis on the site, that the responsible party had only read the Cliff Notes version.

"who is john galt?
This question appears many times in Ayn Rand’s classic 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged ,” and, curiously, it also appears on the side of our shopping bags currently in our stores."


CURIOUSLY.

"Oh my, how did that get there?"
posted by louche mustachio at 2:18 AM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


lululemon’s founder, Chip Wilson, first read this book when he was eighteen years old working away from home. Only later, looking back, did he realize the impact the book’s ideology had on his quest to elevate the world from mediocrity to greatness (it is not coincidental that this is lululemon’s company vision).

You...you make overpriced sports clothing. And your legal given name is Chip. What the fuck I don't even
posted by cmonkey at 2:29 AM on November 14, 2011 [97 favorites]


Self-improvement athleticism + selling yoga clothes + name-dropping Ayn Rand, that master of branding who in such an aesthetically forceful way made a fetish of selfishness = pretty much brilliant. If they find some Roarkian marketing talents, they could really milk this. I think there are a lot of people who are looking to buy not just beautiful pants for their self-improvement, but a whole lofty ideology that elevates themselves and their alienated striving for self-perfection. Have there been any other Randian ad campaigns?
posted by mbrock at 2:37 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Odd. I happened upon one of these stores on Saturday, and since I've been in search of a better workout headband, I headed in.

The experience was bizarre mostly because all of the workers are dressed in yoga-attire. Additionally the one I spoke to was yoga-chipper in a way that really disturbed grumpy, misanthropic me.

I did buy a headband (although not the one which "holds! back! two! different! lengths!" of hair). I honestly didn't look at the bag until now.

I'm a bit sad that instead of asking me who John Galt is, it just tells me to Yoga. Run. Shower. Eat Sushi. After all, although I'm as anti-Randian as the next leftist mefite, I think my misanthropic nature would have felt more at home with a little more Galt and a little less "How! do! you! work! out!"

I can't say as I know what to think about the sushi, though.
posted by nat at 3:08 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


And cries emerged to shut it down ... not just the next few Yoga sessions, but the entire damn Hipster season. No lattes. No iPads. No fucking yoga pants.
posted by spitbull at 3:21 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fashion industry is not really renowned for the depth of its philosophical understanding.
posted by memebake at 3:27 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Washington Post is my daily newspaper, so I was wondering if the Lululemon murder would ever hit Metafilter. (Me, I couldn't think of a way to frame such a post that was not outrage-filter, so I didn't. Yeah you're welcome.)

Not unlike the assistant coach who walked into a locker-room to find a superior raping a child... a-n-d walked back out again, two Apple store employees heard the struggle next door, heard the murdered woman pleading for her life, and... went back to work.

This is the stuff of nightmares. We are hard-wired to seek safety in numbers, trusting that others will help us, but apparently once our numbers increase past a certain point, they just don't, necessarily. I always used to tell myself that the reason I even know Kitty Genovese's name is that what happened to her was a bizarre anomaly, essentially a unique occurrence -- that people do not fail each other like that. But here we are.

And Lululemon, with great fanfare, installed what was billed as a tribute to Jayna Murray, the murdered employee, in that very store -- a stained glass window that says "Love." Hmm. Nothing there to bum people out, or God forbid distract them from buying pants. And Lululemon is now touting self-interest as personal growth on its shopping bags and company blog. Hmm. I know it is not Chip Davis' fault that one of his employees was murdered in one of his stores, but the company response seems so very callous, it puts the Apple store employees (who heard it all and did nothing) in perspective.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 3:27 AM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Actually this is pretty typical now with yoga stores. The Ayn Rand and the murders are a necessary way to generate marketing buzz.

The competition is fierce. Not every yoga store will make it. Some don't have a leg to stand on, others are bending over backwards to find customers. In a market where yoga stores are being bent out of shape, only the twisted will survive.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:43 AM on November 14, 2011 [17 favorites]


There's some very grim humor in all of this somewhere about Randian self-reliance and the Apple store employees not helping Ms. Murray.

Also,

.
posted by kcds at 3:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I clicked the link about store employees ignoring cries for help, expecting to be outraged, but from what was quoted, I'm guessing it would have sounded like everyday idiot drama to me too, just like it did to them, and not like someone getting hurt.

The other week, I annoyed some people by intervening where it turned out to be unwelcome. There's not always a clear sign for when to butt in vs when to butt out :-(
posted by -harlequin- at 4:24 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious about whether Lululemon yoga gear is superior to the stuff I buy at Target. I think yoga pants would have to be imbued with magical powers for me to pay a hundred bucks for them. I'm also a little amused that they're Rand-bots, because I think of Lululemon as being so iconically Canadian, and my stereotype of Canadians is that they're smug liberals, not dingbat libertarians.
And Lululemon, with great fanfare, installed what was billed as a tribute to Jayna Murray, the murdered employee, in that very store -- a stained glass window that says "Love."
Ew.

On the other hand, I don't really know what's an appropriate corporate response to having one of your employees brutally murder another one. It's hard to think of how you could deal with that in a way that would seem adequate and tasteful.
posted by craichead at 4:40 AM on November 14, 2011


John Gault was a psychopath.
posted by humanfont at 4:48 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lululemon's "manifesto" (aka the stuff that appears on their non-John Galt bags) is a weird muddle of warm and fuzzy, yoga friendly eat-pray-love stuff and advice that seems geared at Type A executive wannabes:

Write down your short and long-term GOALS four times a year. Two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years.'

I'm not completely sure what business goals have to do with yoga.

It's also mentioned briefly in the Wikipedia article that Lululemon sends its employees to the Landmark Forum, a personal development course (or cult, depending on who you ask).

The thing is, I really like their clothes. They're thoughtfully designed, well-made, comfortable, stylish, and hold up through years of sweat and workouts and machine washings. They're one of the few clothing lines I consider worth the premium price (excepting their iconic yoga pants, which are too hot for actually practicing yoga and pill up easily). I haven't yet found another clothing line that's as consistently good, at any price point. So I keep coming back, in spite of the company throwing reason after reason for me not to.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:51 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow at the comments on that blog post. I never realized the yoga community was so....conservative/libertarian.
posted by longdaysjourney at 4:59 AM on November 14, 2011


Fitness, diet, and health have always been, for some people, a way to be totally self-centered while feeling virtuous and superior. This Randian yoga branding is actually kind of inevitable, if you look at things that way.
posted by thelonius at 5:06 AM on November 14, 2011 [35 favorites]


I'm suspecting some corporate astroturfing, plus some people from right-wing blogs who don't really buy their products. But I also think it's worth distinguishing between the "yoga community" and those members of the yoga community who can afford Lululemon's prices. There's a certain kind of rich, wack-job libertarian who seem to think that illness is punishment for poor lifestyle and that you can automatically stay healthy through proper diet and exercise. The Whole Foods guy and the Lululemon guy seem to fall into this category, and I'm sure some of their customers do, too.
posted by craichead at 5:07 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm also from DC. I think this is a weird ass post, which verges on offensive. The murder at the store in Bethesda has nothing whatsoever to do with the corporate culture of Lululemon, or with Randian anything. Conflating the two, even by simple proximity, seems to turn this shitty thing one crazy woman did into something much more lurid. Your posts seems to suggest that this personal tragedy is really, well, I'm not sure exactly. Really understandable because Randians are whack-jobs? I really am not easily offended, and I tend to eschew talk of "tragedy" and heartfelt pleas for respect for the dead, but this post feels shitty and poorly designed to me.
posted by OmieWise at 5:16 AM on November 14, 2011 [25 favorites]


"Be the mediocrity you want to see in the world."

I would suggest that if you look around yourself and only see mediocrity, then you're looking in a mirror. The world is overflowing with quiet greatness.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:21 AM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Is a man not entitled to do Padangustasana with a modified foot position?

"No!" says the man from the Bikram studio. "The heel and toes of your left foot must both be pointed upwards, and you cannot take any water until the full sequence is completed."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:31 AM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bigger picture: You don't NEED special clothing to do yoga. Hell, you don't even need a mat.

These people are just practicing the Randian/Barnum art of removing money from suckers.
posted by fungible at 5:43 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


A few years ago the NYT ran an article about Lululemon and its suggestion that their seaweed-infused clothing "reduces stress and provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, hydrating and detoxifying benefits." The Times piece was called ‘Seaweed’ Clothing Has None, Tests Show.
posted by mark7570 at 5:56 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find Paul Krugman had a useful observation about Rand once:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [71 favorites]


Downward facing dung.
posted by delfin at 6:07 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Do not see relationship between marketing, appropriate or otherwise, and murder of an employee.

This is the kind of spurious connection that drags down human discourse.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:16 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Next: Ayn Rand Pet Clothing meets Yoga Dogs.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:20 AM on November 14, 2011


I liked the journalists personal recount of her own brush with assault. I think she is right that in the scheme of things, there needs to be someone whose sole job it is to call the police when that stuff happens. If the reason is freeriding in the private provision of help, which is a public good here, then it's a perverse Nash equilibrium sometimes to just not intervene as te number of bystanders increase. The solution - or a solution- is to have a rule like "oldest guy calls cops" or something. Then there is no question.

But having said that, what inevitably occurs is that over time since assaults like this are very rare, I bet there is going to be a tendency for people to overreact. In the sense, you called cops when it was nothing. I suspect that has to only happen once for you to question the wisdom of the rule to call at the slugh test hint of attack. Which I suspect could be why this hasn't resolved itself into some clear ethical dictum for society. It happens to any one person so infrequently that you get a false positive problem, yet it happens in society constantly - somewhere, it is occurring now. Just not to the person who has privately adopted the rule.

Ugh.
posted by scunning at 6:21 AM on November 14, 2011


I can't believe this FPP exists without mentioning the Landmark cult.

And yes, if you wear their clothes I do consider you creepy.
posted by Theta States at 6:29 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this fascination with Rand really so surprising from a company that sends its employees for EST training.
posted by brookeb at 6:31 AM on November 14, 2011


I find Paul Krugman had a useful observation about Rand once:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."


No, that wasn't Krugman. It was John Rogers, the same guy who ibrought us the Crazification Factor.
posted by maudlin at 6:37 AM on November 14, 2011 [15 favorites]


I would suggest that if you look around yourself and only see mediocrity, then you're looking in a mirror. The world is overflowing with quiet greatness.

Did this come from a lululemon bag?
posted by liketitanic at 6:49 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm also from DC and this post seems misleading or snide to me as well. Are we supposed to believe that the founder's affinity for Rand makes his employees go psychotic and beat their co-workers to death or something?

It's like those local "if it bleeds it leads" news stories where some kid shotguns his grandmother to death and they blame it on the copy of Grand Theft Auto that was found in the kid's bedroom.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:49 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Head over to your nearest lululemon, and for less than twenty bucks you can get a few hair doodles for your family

No way, less than twenty bucks?!?
posted by en forme de poire at 6:50 AM on November 14, 2011


This store must be in town.
posted by arcticseal at 6:54 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always used to tell myself that the reason I even know Kitty Genovese's name is that what happened to her was a bizarre anomaly, essentially a unique occurrence -- that people do not fail each other like that. But here we are.

You've read that very wiki link you used, haven't you? Because the accepted narrative of KG has changed a whole lot since the early days of Harlan Ellison railing about people watching murder and doing nothing.

clicked the link about store employees ignoring cries for help, expecting to be outraged, but from what was quoted, I'm guessing it would have sounded like everyday idiot drama to me too, just like it did to them, and not like someone getting hurt.

Yup.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:01 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. This whole entry reads like everything that is wrong with privileged Western culture.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:04 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I forget. Is moksha or dharma the Hindu word for "radical selfishness".

(Although I'm sure you can find "A = A" somewhere in Pāṇini.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:07 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


This really has nothing to do with this post but... select the color black for this lululemon shirt
posted by splatta at 7:17 AM on November 14, 2011 [51 favorites]


ring ring

"Sir?"
"Yes, Tyro?"
"We've got a problem, sir. I haven't seen a problem like this one."
"There are always problems. The world is a house on fire, Tyro."
"I will meditate on it during my 8:00 session, sir."
"Good. Now what's this problem? You were interrupting my communion with the ghost of St. Francis."
"The shipment of our new bags arrived at the Los Angeles docks, sir. Our freight agent reports the bags have 'who is John Galt?' printed on them."
"That's... remarkable."
"Yes, sir."
"This isn't another cross-shipment with American Apparel, is it?"
"No, sir."
"So you're telling me that, by some remarkably slim odds, some Chinese man happened to randomly assemble a bunch of characters he can't read into an Ayn Rand quote, get it past our inspectors and print it onto the sides of 300,000 of our shopping bags?"
"It appears so, sir."
"That asshole from Hollister has been ratcheting up the psychic warfare. Tyro, start there. Get the Rinpoche. He knows a lamasery that owes us one. We have to turn this attack on its back. Set up a web page to apologize."
"Yes, sir."
"No, wait. We'll play off expectations. Make people think this is all about self-interest, and open a new market with the tea partiers. Then hit them in the dharma - put 1% of the sales using those bags into an orphan rescue fund. And public education."
posted by ardgedee at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


I've been following the murder case on the local news, and I really don't understand what the Randian branding (there's a fun combination of words) has to do with the case. Is there meant to be a connection, or are the two items linked in the FPP because of coincidence?
posted by codacorolla at 7:28 AM on November 14, 2011


When the Occupy Oakland protesters get kicked out, they should come and occupy the lululemon store up in Berkeley.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2011


This really has nothing to do with this post but... select the color black for this lululemon shirt

*clicks link, selects black*

Ha HA! Just WOW.
posted by sundrop at 7:34 AM on November 14, 2011


Wow at the comments on that blog post. I never realized the yoga community was so....conservative/libertarian.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:59 AM on November 14


One of the bigger groups consuming LuluLemon is Crossfit, and it has a long history of fostering right-wing extreme libertarianism. They've toned it down on the Crossfit.com blog a bit since it really blew up, but go back even a year or two and you'll find links to screeds on how global warming was invented by communists to ruin capitalism and how participation in Crossfit is a Randian revolt against the mediocre fitness culture etc etc etc.
posted by schroedinger at 7:42 AM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


*crosses Crossfit off her training options*

FSM deliver me from the smug and fatuous pricks of the world.
posted by maudlin at 7:53 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I haven't yet found another clothing line that's as consistently good, at any price point.

I can't speak to the quality and longevity of lululemon clothing because I've never bought any -- as a lady with boobage, I will never ever be able to wear anything they sell that's designed to cover a torso, but at this point I might be small enough to be able to squeeze myself into the largest size of their yoga pants. But then I would suffer incredible guilt for blowing $100 on a pair of pants to do yoga in, when my super cheapo Old Navy yoga capri pants seem to work just fine and last upwards of 2 years per pair. (To replace the two pair I've had for years that are starting to get faded out from laundering, I just bought two fresh pair that showed up on a clearance rack for $3 each, so I'm probably good for the next several years, yoga pant-wise. Plus, $3?! God, I love clearance racks.) Good thick yet breathable fabric, nice wide waistband that never friggin' moves or rolls up or annoys me, flat seams so nothing chafes... those and a $5 tank top, and I'm ready to sun-salute my heart out. Namaste.

I'm sure the gear they sell at lululemon is great, but I can't really believe it's at all worth the money.
posted by palomar at 7:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the strange ode link:
Voice from next door: “Help me! Help me!”
John Galt: “Help yourself, or die.”

posted by MrMoonPie at 8:00 AM on November 14, 2011


Yeah, I'm not sure I see the connection between these two things either, but if we are doing a laundry llist of Lululemon's sins, I would have thrown in some stuff about Landmark and also the seaweed scandal. Looks like the seaweed thing was covered above; I'm trying to track down the article on Landmark but not having much luck - here's some stuff that references it or is related:

Looking Closer at Lululemon
Lululemon's Cult of Selling - they're also really into The Secret - ick.
posted by naoko at 8:13 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find Paul Krugman had a useful observation about Rand once:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."

No, that wasn't Krugman. It was John Rogers, the same guy who ibrought us the Crazification Factor.


The confusion arises because Krugman cited the quote in his NYT column.

Relatedly, NPR profiled Ayn Rand on Morning Edition today, as part of a series about influential philosophers. As I listened to them play a recording of Rand's absolutely sociopathic rantings, I wondered how many right-wing jingoistic fundamentalists who spout ideology derived from her works know Rand was an atheist Russky?
posted by aught at 8:18 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


The popular account of the Kitty Genovese case is misleading
http://www.onthemedia.org/2009/mar/27/the-witnesses-that-didnt/transcript/
posted by Bwithh at 8:22 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is the stuff of nightmares. We are hard-wired to seek safety in numbers, trusting that others will help us, but apparently once our numbers increase past a certain point, they just don't, necessarily.

This is why for the past several years, I have been consciously trying to break down my reluctance to interfere - which is even harder considering that I come from a culture where talking to strangers is often considered to be rude and intrusive.

I've been training myself to become a busy-body: I watch people who look a little lost, or who might need help, or people fighting - just in case. So far, I've only stopped one relatively minor crime (the fleecing of a tourist in Paris by one of the bracelet-con-men - they tie a bracelet you don't want on your wrist, then demand money) and, while my SO was impressed, that really wasn't a big deal.

But I just never want to be the person who had to live with not having tried to do something.
posted by jb at 8:24 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious about whether Lululemon yoga gear is superior to the stuff I buy at Target. I think yoga pants would have to be imbued with magical powers for me to pay a hundred bucks for them. [...] I think of Lululemon as being so iconically Canadian...

Apparently, Canadians buying Lululemon in the States is a Thing, on account of it being cheaper there than at home. Dunno how true that actually is.

Back when they first started getting really big, I went in looking for a neti pot, having had no luck finding one at another yoga store or anywhere else. I wound up getting trapped in a conversation with a couple of salesladies and a manager, who all wanted to know what this neti pot thing was, clearly looking to pitch it to a higher up or whatever, when all I wanted to know as a customer was if they had them or not, and if you could just google it on your own time, that'd be great. It was then that I decided that the store probably wasn't about the yoga. Not to mention that I only ever see it as street wear, rather than workout clothes. Enh.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:26 AM on November 14, 2011


This recurrent use of the phrase "mediocre" in these Randian commentaries really creeps me out.

It seems to be stated as descriptive of results, then transforms into descriptive of community, and I'm getting the feeling that it is rapidly moving towards a group descriptor, as in "It's hard to get things done when I am surrounded by Mediocres".

Ubermensch. Blech.
posted by dglynn at 8:26 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


As I listened to them play a recording of Rand's absolutely sociopathic rantings, I wondered how many right-wing jingoistic fundamentalists who spout ideology derived from her works know Rand was an atheist Russky?

They know. Never underestimate the human capacity to compartmentalize.
posted by downing street memo at 8:31 AM on November 14, 2011


calling Rand an "influential philosopher" is like calling G.G. Allin a "ground-breaking composer". The woman appears to have been almost totally ignorant of philosophy. A=A? Had she not read Aristotle? No, it seems not.
posted by thelonius at 8:31 AM on November 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


There are so many ways to compare Ayn Rand to GG Allin!
My morning has been made.
posted by Seamus at 8:35 AM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


"For $400... Though dismissed by most readers as juvenalia, this fictional character has persevered as a totemic symbol for those whose back-brain cannibal philosophy puts them at odds with the rest of the literary tradition."

Who is Tom Joad?

No? Fuck.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:35 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


maudlin: "*crosses Crossfit off her training options*"

I think it must vary from gym to gym (since CrossFit is hardly centralized), because all the people I know who attend (or teach) CrossFit classes are fairly steadfast socialists. I've never heard anybody complain about their instructors or classes having odd political ideologies.

(Then again, I live in DC, and here we try to leave most of that baggage at work, so there might be special attention paid to avoiding those topics. Also, the locals here are extremely liberal, while the occupying army congress tends to be rather conservative, and has very deep pockets... No need to piss off the customers!)

I have some misgivings about the versions of CrossFit that I've witnessed, but it has nothing to do with political ideology. Rather, I've always been a bit concerned that the instructors pushed their classes too hard (to the point where people injure themselves), and promoted a lot of woo woo dieting strategies, which were unscientific at best, and borderline eating disorders at worst.

Paleo might be a decent diet, but the rationale given for it by most literature I see is absolutely nuts -- I never was quite able to make the "this is what we like to imagine that certain hunter-gatherers ate, and it is therefore good for you" connection. I also got dirty looks whenever I asked exactly where they drew the line on "processed" foods. If I chop, sautee, and add salt to an onion, haven't I "processed" it fairly extensively?
posted by schmod at 8:37 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Yes, Tyro?"

How does this not have more favorites?
posted by zeek321 at 8:39 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


has rapidly become a brand fixture in the Pacific Northwest

The "Pacific Northwest"? Lululemon is a Canadian company that had stores in Calgary and Toronto and other Canadian cities (and of course in Vancouver) years before it ever opened in the US, in the PNW or anywhere else.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:46 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was previously neutral on this company, now I'm decidedly negative and will spread that negativity if asked. There's nothing worse then a Randian above the age of 21.
posted by cell divide at 9:01 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is well documented that Ayn Rand admired a psychopathic killer and considered him an ideal man. I wonder if Mr. Wilson has the same admiration of Ms. Norwood...
posted by Billiken at 9:05 AM on November 14, 2011


I think it must vary from gym to gym (since CrossFit is hardly centralized), because all the people I know who attend (or teach) CrossFit classes are fairly steadfast socialists. I've never heard anybody complain about their instructors or classes having odd political ideologies.

Fairly steadfast socialism might, to a person off the street, come across as an odd political ideology.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:05 AM on November 14, 2011


Wow at the comments on that blog post. I never realized the yoga community was so....conservative/libertarian.

Well, this one isn't ...

I would argue that the majority of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants actually have very little control over their careers, where they live, and how much money they make. That statement is laughable. If all it took was an attitude adjustment to rise from poverty, escape conflict, and recover from widespread illness, then we would have 7 billion wealthy, happy, and healthy humans headed to their next yoga class.
I’ll take my workout gear without naive freshman-year analysis next time.

Comment by Amanda


Thanks, Amanda.
posted by philip-random at 9:12 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I never realized the yoga community was so....conservative/libertarian.

Think about the type of person that is lululemon's core audience: Educated, 30ish women with a lot of money, but more importantly, a lot of time on their hands. You're describing a conservative/libertarian mom. "I got a masters degree, but then I got married and had two kids and now I'm a stay-at-home mom and everyone could be like me if only they worked hard enough like I did when my parents sent me to college." They like yoga because they think it's exercise for smart people.

And it's non-competitive. No one can tell you that you're doing it wrong.

It's exercise for people that live in a bubble.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:23 AM on November 14, 2011 [17 favorites]


The people I see most often with lululemon bags or lululemon gear are career-oriented women, actually.
posted by palomar at 9:41 AM on November 14, 2011


The people I see most often with lululemon bags or lululemon gear are career-oriented women, actually.

Give 'em a little more time. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:42 AM on November 14, 2011


Chip Wilson used to be my mother's next door neighbour; the first I ever heard of Lululemon was the logo on his sports SUV. The most interesting thing he did there, apart from starting on the road to becoming a multi-millionaire, was to completely pave over the back yard. They sold the house after the IPO.
posted by jokeefe at 9:46 AM on November 14, 2011


Can't believe the thread got this long without a single mention of Rush. Has anyone checked Neil Peart's yoga outfit yet? HMMM?
posted by zomg at 9:47 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This recurrent use of the phrase "mediocre" in these Randian commentaries really creeps me out.

As well it should, when you consider what Ayn Rand's final solution for mediocre people was.
posted by clarknova at 9:57 AM on November 14, 2011


Who is The Stig?
posted by Slackermagee at 10:01 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Checked, the #lululemon hashtag, found a number of comments "Ha no fat people at #lululemon".
gah


This really has nothing to do with this post but... select the color black for this lululemon shirt

what.
posted by Theta States at 10:16 AM on November 14, 2011


And it's non-competitive. No one can tell you that you're doing it wrong.

No comment on lululemon customers, as I don't tend to notice the brand choices of my fellow practitioners. But as an assessment of yoga generally, I don't think this is an accurate statement. While it's true that teachers will often stress that every practice is individual, competition with yourself is pretty central. It's kind of the point of having a practice.

And, yes, you will be told if you're doing wrong. Correcting posture is main function of a yoga teacher.
posted by Dano St at 10:24 AM on November 14, 2011


I think people really do have the lululemon demographic wrong. In my experience, its urban upwardly mobile 20-something childless professional women. This is not a group amenable to Randism, I think this is mostly just a quirk of the founder (who, like most businesspeople, is very good at business and not so good at thinking about society outside of that).
posted by downing street memo at 10:27 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Educated, 30ish women with a lot of money, but more importantly, a lot of time on their hands.

I'm pretty sure the demographic you are describing skews liberal, not conservative. Younger, wealthier, more educated, likes to exercise . . . you're more likely talking about a yupster leftie, not a Rand follower.
posted by Mid at 10:28 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aw, why do they have to be weird? I wanted to buy me some Battlestar underwear.
posted by Iteki at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2011


And cries emerged to shut it down ... not just the next few Yoga sessions, but the entire damn Hipster season. No lattes. No iPads. No fucking yoga pants.

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

HIPSTER != YUPPIE
posted by twirlip at 10:42 AM on November 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


>No one can tell you that you're doing it wrong.

>And, yes, you will be told if you're doing wrong. Correcting posture is main function of a yoga teacher.


Definitely. I was once reamed out for wearing a watch, as the electro-magnetic impulses were throwing off my chakras.

(That would have been my last yoga class.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:43 AM on November 14, 2011


After a few minutes in the revolved triangle posture, I am ready to kill someone too.
posted by Danf at 11:07 AM on November 14, 2011


Think about the type of person that is lululemon's core audience: Educated, 30ish women with a lot of money, but more importantly, a lot of time on their hands. You're describing a conservative/libertarian mom. "I got a masters degree, but then I got married and had two kids and now I'm a stay-at-home mom and everyone could be like me if only they worked hard enough like I did when my parents sent me to college." They like yoga because they think it's exercise for smart people.

And it's non-competitive. No one can tell you that you're doing it wrong.

It's exercise for people that live in a bubble.


This is completely inane.

Yoga is exercise for people who live in a bubble?

No one can tell you that you're doing it wrong?

If any of that is true for yoga, wouldn't it hold true for calisthenics as well? If not, why not?

You can do better than this.

And you think you've described conservative/libertarian mothers? Come on. Let me pull your coat a little, not a lot of mothers, especially yoga practicing mothers with a masters degree, self identify as libertarians.

Perhaps you should be the one thinking about the type of person that is lululemon's core audience...
posted by BigSky at 11:18 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


>And, yes, you will be told if you're doing wrong. Correcting posture is main function of a yoga teacher.

You're missing the point. Yes, you have a yoga instructor to help you achieve the correct posture. But every yoga instructor will also tell you that if you literally cannot achieve the correct posture (say, because you're a beginner, or you're injured, or you're just not flexible enough), that is OK. Yoga is a "journey," so to speak. You can't do it wrong, because however you're doing it now is OK in the great grand scheme of your journey.

Contrast this to other forms of exercise -- say, tennis. You swing and miss the ball. You're doing it wrong. Wrong, wrong, provably, demonstratively wrong. Swinging and missing is not playing tennis.

You can't swing and miss at Corpse Pose.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on November 14, 2011


You can't do it wrong, because however you're doing it now is OK in the great grand scheme of your journey.

Yeah, that's because you're not doing it wrong in that case. If you are working your edge, wherever that may be, you're doing it right.
posted by Dano St at 11:29 AM on November 14, 2011


Perhaps you should be the one thinking about the type of person that is lululemon's core audience...

Prove me wrong. Here, here's the link to their investor relations page. Ask them what they think their core market is. Here, take a look at their marketing and branding plans.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


HIPSTER != YUPPIE

Sure it does! HIPSTER=ANYTHING THE SPEAKER DOESN'T LIKE, didn't you get the memo?

Young kids having too much fun in eccentric clothing? HIPSTER

Mid-thirties folks enjoying craft beer with excessive gusto? HIPSTER

Soccer moms drinking lattes and combining yoga with conspicuous consumption? HIPSTER

Your absent minded grandfather forgetting modern social norms and accidentally slipping an outdated term for an ethnic minority into your birthday phone call? HIPSTER

Skyrim came out and proved to be too demanding for your current vid card, turning a sixty dollar game into a 300 dollar PC upgrade project? HIPSTER

2 AM, raining, flat tire, no AAA membership? HIPSTER AS SHIT SON
posted by FatherDagon at 11:44 AM on November 14, 2011 [19 favorites]


Sorry, attempts to make yoga Randian just don't fly. I've been doing yoga on and off for 30 years and have never bought anything for yoga. Also I always work by what a yoga teacher once told me: if you are attempting the position and breathing, you are doing it perfectly. Anybody can show up to a yoga class, any level of skill is acceptable and usable and if that's changed lately then whatever that is isn't yoga. Health and fitness are Randian? Don't forget that Ayn Rand was an avid tobacco smoker and felt that anyone who didn't smoke was denying tobacco producers their rightful profits. Take that to a yoga class and see if it flies.

And, oh yeah, lululemon are idiots.
posted by telstar at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: "The people I see most often with lululemon bags or lululemon gear are career-oriented women, actually.

Give 'em a little more time. ;-)
"

-1; Sexism Penalty.
posted by schmod at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


klanawa: For every successful fan of Atlas Shrugged, there are about a million bitter losers. The winners attribute their success to Ayn Rand, the losers attribute their failure to... well, everyone else.

Sorta like every other religion, in that way.


This is a great comment, and would fit in almost any online discussion of Ayn Rand and her works. Well played!
posted by sneebler at 12:31 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kind of liked The Fountainhead. Made me want to become an architect. I eventually got through Atlas Shrugged, which made me NOT want to go into politics or business, or read any more Ayn Rand novels.
posted by sharkitect at 12:55 PM on November 14, 2011


I'm sure the gear they sell at lululemon is great, but I can't really believe it's at all worth the money

fwiw I find it lasts a lot longer than the stuff I used to get at old navy. I beat the shit out of my workout clothes because I am a horrible sweaty gorilla beast and I need to wash everything after one wear or monsters happen. All my old navy stuff fell apart in under a year of such cruel treatment, but the LL stuff still looks like new after 2 years.

posted by elizardbits at 1:01 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it must vary from gym to gym (since CrossFit is hardly centralized), because all the people I know who attend (or teach) CrossFit classes are fairly steadfast socialists. I've never heard anybody complain about their instructors or classes having odd political ideologies.

What you get from gym to gym absolutely will change--from my knowledge of CF affiliates the crazy is concentrated in the California/Southwest region (where CF originated) and the less connection you have to CF headquarters the less likely you are to favor their ideological leanings. But it's without question that HQ and the Crossfit.com mainpage do espouse a certain political viewpoint. Like I said though, they've toned it down quite a bit--after a certain point the welfare-queens-stealing-our-money screeds start annoying even neutral parties and drawing complaints. You used to see regular contributions from the founder's "leading scientist" father on why global warming didn't exist and whatnot.


I dunno if anyone should be surprised by the use of Rand to sell products. In retrospect it seems obvious. Tell the consumer that they are a Special Ubermensch Snowflake Reaching Success! (unlike all those other lazy assholes), and by the way the best way to continue on your path to being Different and Successful is to BUY THIS THING.
posted by schroedinger at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fitter. Happier. More productive.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Prove me wrong. Here, here's the link to their investor relations page. Ask them what they think their core market is. Here, take a look at their marketing and branding plans.

I skimmed the marketing and branding plans. There is nothing in there suggesting their target market is conservative/libertarian in their politics.

They did however specify that they target women in their 20s, instead of "30ish" as you mentioned.

Table 10 of this 2006 publication from the Cato Institute shows the gender skew among libertarians and conservatives (SPOILER: significantly more men than women).

From a 2008 Yoga Journal market study:

72.2% are women; 27.8% are men.

71.4% are college educated; 27% have postgraduate degrees. - This demographic also skews liberal.

Conclusion: Management at lululemon might like them some Ayn Rand, but it's a poor choice for a marketing angle. Promoting those political beliefs, or really any political beliefs but especially those, just undermines their own goal of selling tons o' stuff. Their market does not share their politics, and there is no reason to think that there is a group of libertarian or conservative yogi mamas with masters degrees of any appreciable size.

Especially not in Canada.
posted by BigSky at 2:22 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why can't you do yoga in sweatpants?
posted by spitbull at 2:53 PM on November 14, 2011


In my case, I sweat a lot in yoga so sweatpants would have me wearing several pounds of heavy sweaty cotton within ten minutes of starting practice. As it is, the area surrounding my mat looks like the splash zone at seaworld if I don't towel it regularly. Side benefit: the mats either side of me are always the last to get taken so I have lots of space!
posted by arcticseal at 3:16 PM on November 14, 2011


I have an embarrassing number of running and workout pants from lululemon. I rationalize this with my insane schedule and lack of an n-apartment ashing machine. So I need enough workout gear to get me through at least a week of everyday workouts. Lululemon pants/crops/running tights are pretty much the only brand that are so awesomely made that I can forget they exist-no pulling folding over/falling down, riding up, etc. So, yes, I spend too much money on running clothes. Such is. I'm unsure how this makes me, well, anything other than someone who spends too much money on running and workout gear.
I work out and train down the street from the Bethesda lululemon store. Jana Murray served me in the store several time an I still have a voicemail on my work phone from her, telling me that my pants had been hemmed and are ready for pickup. I haven't deleted because....well, because it seemed weird to wipe this little piece of her existence away.
Anyway, I followed the trial closer than I've probably followed any high profile trial. While many people were ripping the apple employees a new one, I kind of just feel bad for them. I HOPE I would have called the cops, but: it's Bethesda. This is probably the farthest thing from anyone's mind there-that weird noises=murder or even someone in danger probably wouldn't have occurred to me.
Also, I fail to see what any of the Brittany Norwood stuff has to do with any political leanings of the company.
posted by atomicstone at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2011


um, "in-apartment washing machine"
posted by atomicstone at 4:20 PM on November 14, 2011


This really has nothing to do with this post but... select the color black for this lululemon shirt
posted by splatta at 8:17 AM


Ok, this actually made me laugh out loud. As in, sitting at home by myself laughing at the kitchen table. Thanks for that.
posted by arcticwoman at 4:22 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Especially not in Canada.

If Canada's growing right wing hasn't embraced objectivism it's because it hasn't discovered it yet.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:24 PM on November 14, 2011


For people wondering if Lululemon pants are worth it: I'm gonna say no. I was taking a lot of dance classes a while back, and my crappy, synthetic, $10 workout pants weren't allowing me to use my full range of motion. And so, with the help of Metafilter, I decided to man up and buy some stretchy pants.

Lululemon's stuff is durable, and makes your ass look fantastic. But their salespeople are annoying, their goods are wildly overpriced, and they support the Landmark Forum. And there are plenty of good, cheaper alternatives.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:51 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]



Why can't you do yoga in sweatpants?


Especially for a beginner, it's really important to be able to see your joint alignment. If you're doing a pose and your knee isn't aligned correctly you can seriously jack yourself up. Clingy pants, or short pants, allow the shape of the leg to be seen, so it's much easier for an instructor to see if someone's wildly misaligned and in danger of hurting themselves. With sweats, it's harder to see that.

Also, sweats are bulky and hot, and even hatha yoga can make you work up a hell of a sweat. Imagine trying to bend and stretch and contort while wearing soggy pants. *sad trombone noise*
posted by palomar at 6:32 PM on November 14, 2011


I beat the shit out of my workout clothes because I am a horrible sweaty gorilla beast and I need to wash everything after one wear or monsters happen. All my old navy stuff fell apart in under a year of such cruel treatment, but the LL stuff still looks like new after 2 years.

Dang. I must be the luckiest person ever... for the past three years the only workout clothing I've bought has been a couple of Jockey sports bras at Costco, running shoes, and the aforementioned old navy yoga capris, and I too am a glistening stenchbeast, which necessitates many many many launderings. Literally the only change to the pants is that they're faded, and if I weren't a lazy sumbitch who only recently began doing more with my laundry than just jamming it in, turning on the machine, and pouring on some cheap detergent, they wouldn't even be that faded. there's no pilling, no stretching out, no unraveling of seams, no nothing. I highly recommend them even for just loungewear, they're comfortable as fuck and they make my ass look like you could bounce quarters off of it.
posted by palomar at 6:42 PM on November 14, 2011


palomar, that photo is awesome. Also, glistening stenchbeast will be the name of my hair metal band.
posted by arcticseal at 8:02 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the thing about yoga pants making one's ass look fabulous. I don't particularly want people to notice my ass when I'm working out. I think my butt looks pretty average in my cheapo Target yoga pants, and that's ok by me. I'm much more concerned about the ass-enhancing properties of the clothes I wear when I'm not at the gym.
posted by craichead at 8:08 PM on November 14, 2011


I've done yoga in cheap sweat pants - power-yoga, even. Worked just fine.
posted by jb at 9:02 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I don't particularly want people to notice my ass when I'm working out.

It's not for working out but for shopping at Trader Joe's (1:43)

I thought Cool Papa Bell must be from Silicon Valley, because while they might not have read up on Objectivism, the fabulous mommies of Los Gatos, CA have certainly picked up their husband's cyberselfishness I guess it's anywhere where you can "get yours" and ignore issues of social justice.
posted by morganw at 7:28 PM on November 19, 2011


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