Modesty can be a wonderful thing — it creates people like Audrey Hepburn. It also creates a wardrobe inappropriate for Chicago summers. I have always had an odd relationship to modesty. In bars made exclusively of dark corners I feel perfectly comfortable in little corset-style tops and fishnets. However, you get me on a sunny street and I become some pre-suffragette trying to make amends with the fact that it is okay for the modern girl to show a little ankle. Or, at least, that was the case until one remarkable event.
Getting me into short shorts for Bikram was a slow process. My first class was spent in knit pants and two layers of shirts. The first shirt was a tight tank top, so that if I had to flip upside down, my belly would not hang out (I was familiar with downward dog and prepared should it rear its ugly head). The second was a loosely fitting T-shirt so that, heaven forbid, no one could see the curvature of my body. I should mention that this behavior was not driven by some teenage angsty body image issue. More than anything, I just didn't want to assault the person next to me with unwanted fleshy bits.
Within a month the outfit morphed into a tank top and loose running shorts (with built in undie-guards so the person behind me didn't have to see anything in balancing stick). Over the course of the next 6 months, my belly even made an appearance. Granted, the belly-bearing top had thick padded cups I would shove into it to prevent anyone from being able to see that I, like most other people, have nipples.
This steady pace might have gotten me to the blasé attitude I have now within four or five years but a miracle happened. My first year as a yogi, I competed in my first Asana Championship. While always an enriching experience, this one was special. Rather than performing the 3 minute routine on a stage in a park, where your audience passes by at a distance of 20-30 feet, or in an auditorium, where your audience is only people interested in the sport, this competition was in a Whole Foods. Yes, right in the grocery store.
Tucked safely between the check-out lanes and the entrance we lifted our legs, shoved our chests up to the sky (which incidentally, was not a sky, but the second floor and escalator. One competitor, when folded in half in guillotine, saw, just past her own rear, two young boys staring at her from said escalator). To ensure that no competitor would leave this day with lingering body-shame, the warm-up area was placed on a second level, past the floral department. Yes, to get on stage we had to walk past hoards of urbanite mothers and their gaping children in what amounted to our undergarments. Many a young child was educated that day on the glories of anatomy as competitor after competitor wove through the floral department, past the check-out lanes, passing the natural soaps, to the stage — clad in spandex leotards and banana hammocks.*
Now that my hoo-hoo has been pointed at unsuspecting shoppers of organic produce I find bearing a little ankle, even knee, quite unremarkable. And thus, you can now find me purchasing flimsy bra-tops and clingy short shorts for my practice. Problem solved. I would recommend this as a sure fire cure to any person willing to try.**
* I would like to make special note that I think this was actually a genius move. Being in such an open venue ensured a lot of visitors who would not have been watching otherwise. It also put us in close proximity to food, which was a huge bonus the second we were off stage.
** The author of this blog will not be held responsible for any person being forcibly evicted from Whole Foods for indecent exposure.