Following the killing of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has provoked global change, prompting a reckoning across all areas of celebrity and business.
In response to calls for change, Sweaty Betty has announced changes to their product names, many of which formerly featured Sanskrit words.
Across the internet there have been many criticisms of the whitewashing of yoga, a practice that originated in India but is now often fronted by slim white women.
As part of this backlash, Sweaty Betty has been called out for the names of some of their sportswear designed for yoga and pilates. Yesterday they announced the immediate change of these product names, calling this move ‘just the beginning’.
On Instagram the brand explained that the Simhasana Sweatshirt would become the All Day Sweatshirt, the Prana Yoga Bra will now be the Foundation Seamless Yoga Bra, the Garadusana Yoga Pants will now be the Gary Yoga Pants, the Brahma Yoga Bra will be the Strappy Back Seamless Bra, the Dharana Yoga Top will be the Dynamic Seamless Yoga Top, and the Namaste Yoga Bra will be the Mindful Yoga Bra.
Sweaty Betty said: ‘We are focusing on making positive changes + these new product names are just the beginning. Please note, all of these products have been renamed online, but our swing tickets take longer, so these will be updated very soon.⠀
‘Originating in India thousands of years ago, the benefits of yoga on the mind and body are now enjoyed worldwide. This means that many of us have unconsciously adopted a culture without acknowledging where these practices have come from. While continuing to experience the joy of yoga, it is important to celebrate and honour its origins to both deepen your own practice and be mindful of its sacred roots.⠀
‘After further educating ourselves on this, we’ve made the decision to rename some of our products where Sanskrit words were used in the wrong context. Our previous names included Brahma, the name of a Hindu God and Namaste, a sacred greeting. Separated from their sacred foundations, this felt insensitive and we felt it was inappropriate to sell products using these culturally important words.⠀
‘Renaming these products with more appropriate names is the first step on our journey and part of a wider conversation. We will be sharing our next steps soon…’
On their Instagram stories, the brand added that they have been ‘educating’ themselves about the cultural appropriation of yoga, and pointed followers to their blog post on this subject, where they promoted the work of educators and yogis. ⠀
Reaction to the decision to change the product names has been mixed.
While many have applauded Sweaty Betty for taking steps to address the issue of cultural appropriation in yoga, the comments section of the Instagram post where they announce this has a few messages calling the new names ‘dull’.
‘I buy them because of the yoga names…’ wrote one commenter.
Another asked: ‘Does this mean a white person shouldn’t do yoga?’
Overwhelmingly, though, the reaction has been positive – although some find the name ‘Gary’ for a pair of yoga pants quite funny.
‘Well done, so proud of every little step,’ wrote a yoga instructor in the comments.
Another said: ‘A great first step’.
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