Ayn Rand At Lululemon And Bloomingdale's: Individualism, Inspiration, And Self-Improvement

Ayn Rand quote at BloomingdalesThe yoga-pants crowd is apparently huffing and puffing (mindfully, I imagine) over the "Who Is John Galt?" shopping bags being handed out at Lululemon. (There's a good photo, with both sides of the bag, at the bottom of this blog post.)

“Galt would not likely have proclaimed, as Lululemon’s bags once did, that 'what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves,'” notes the NYT's Ian Austen--a deadpan understatement that demonstrates just how often (the right kind of) politics goes unnoted on shopping bags.

But, he reports, the company's website relates Ayn Rand's celebration of excellence to the company's philosophy: “Our bags are visual reminders for ourselves to live a life we love and conquer the epidemic of mediocrity. We all have a John Galt inside of us, cheering us on. How are we going to live lives we love?”

Or, as Molly Worthen writes on Slate, “Yoga and Rand have both spawned subcultures of devotees not because Americans are either pantheistic mystics or objectivists but because they are individualists who belong to the church of self-improvement.”

Worthen's observation is borne out by another Rand sighting, this one in Bloomingdale's (click photo for larger view), where a Rand quote appears alongside similarly inspirational lines from Katharine Hepburn, Mae West, Diana Vreeland, Betty Friedan, and Raquel Welch: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark....The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.” Oprah couldn't have said it better.

[Photo by Virginia Postrel. You are free to use it with a link back to this post.]