Challenging Studio Dress Codes

One NYC activist is taking exception to the idea that men can practice in some studios without wearing a shirt, but women can't.
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One NYC activist is taking exception to the idea that men can practice in some studios without wearing a shirt, but women can't.

How would you react if a woman showed up to your regular yoga class completely topless?

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One New York City yogi has been doing just that at studios throughout the city this summer, according to a recent article on The Daily Beast. Twenty-nine-year-old Moira Johnson, who calls herself a "topless activist," thinks that if men are allowed to practice yoga topless in the city's studios, women should be, too. And she has shown up in yoga classes across the city to make the point.

It should be noted that it's not illegal for women to be topless in public in the state of New York. When yoga studios have asked her to cover up, she filed a legal complaint—13 so far.

Apparently the whole thing started in January when Johnston was kicked out of class at Jivamukti Yoga for refusing to put on her top. (Jivamukti managing director Carlos Menjivar told us back then that it had always been their policy that both men and women wear shirts in class, but did not mention this incident.)

Johnston sees it as a civil rights issue. While studios are privately owned and can enforce a dress code, they shouldn't be able to have different rules for women and men, she says.

"The most ironic thing is that this is the yoga community, and we’re supposed to be transcending gender and celebrating equality," Johnston told Well and Good NYC. "I would have thought that this community would embrace it even if it wasn’t legal."