Thursday, April 22, 2004

Buddha on a Bikini

My first reaction was to laugh when I found out about Victoria Secret's Buddha Bikini Debacle. I received an email this morning, a forward of a petition and call to contact not only Victoria's Secret, but OndadeMar for plastering the Buddha and Bodhisattvas on their bikinis. I've always enjoyed seeing Buddhist images on clothing. Not only do I belong to a fashionable religion, but if people are attracted to the images even for superficial reasons, great! What's gonna happen when someone who thought that booda dude image was cool actually sees a live person sitting serenely in the same position? Might something about that penetrate to a deeper need?

My second thought: can I work this into a respectful article for the Dharma News? (I should be working on those articles right now.) It's really hard for a person to be serious about this who has Mother of all Buddhas tattooed on her arm. This sacred image is exposed to my genitals every day. Some Buddhist sects consider it highly disrespectful to disrobe in front of a Buddha image, and certainly, wear one on those defiled parts of our body. Many innocent American converts I know have had Buddha images in their bedrooms for years. Somehow this little detail didn't get conveyed to us early on.

Both OndadeMar and Victoria's Secret have already removed the offending bikinis from their websites, or at least the links. Currently the OndadeMar can still be seen and ordered, only if you have the link. I have to say, it certainly is odd to see the Buddha hugging genitalia like that. My third thought: certainly this has been done with Jesus?

Looking for "jesus on a bikini", I found somebody else had the idea on April 19. Further searches yielded nothing. But jesus and underwear certainly did. I found boxers, thongs, and many other panties. Of course, all of those were poking fun of Christian Fundamentalism, none were major fashion industry corporations, and the context is completely different.

I can see how it might not flattering to one's religion to be so fashionable. It could be seen that the icons are treated merely as exotic myth and not as images to be respected and representations of aspirations. On the other hand, if one's religion is seen as sexy, isn't that a compliment?

Anyway, I found that the fashion industry and Buddhism aren't completely at odds. There's a fashion school in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok.

Of course I also couldn't get too excited about this because, well, they'll never make a Buddha bathing suit in my size.

No comments: