This week I attended Body Positivity, a yoga class at Rutgers University, who are trying and succeeding at creating a world in which people are liberated from self-hatred, value their beauty and identity, and use their energy and intellect to make positive changes in their own lives and in their communities.
I had the honor of attending Jessamyn Stanley’s yoga class. This is no ordinary yoga, but she utilizes the body positivity method of moving past mental and emotional barriers. Her class celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask “How do I feel?” rather than “How do I look? when practicing yoga.
Our society has created a stigma towards certain body types who they perceive as not normal. People who have voluptuous curves, are stick thin, have large boobs, or do not fit a certain profiled are body shamed. To make it worse, because we all know of the stigma, the shame also comes from within, leading to low self-esteem and the possibility of self-hatred. This yoga experience was a journey down the road towards acceptance of ourselves.
As we were going into Lotus pose, she repeated, “if you cannot get all the way down because of your stomach, who gives a f****. If you cannot see your stomach because your boobs are in the way, who cares. Do what makes you feel good.” Every time a pose became more and more difficult, she emphasized it is ok not to be a fitness beast.
Do the simple pose and feel beautiful. Her words touched every heart in that room. Coming from a girl with body issues, her words really hit home and I left with such relief and weight off my shoulders.
Jessamyn could not have been more accurate. We all come in different shapes and sizes. We have to understand how to look at ourselves and find strength and beauty and once we do, we can expose that to the world, defeat the body shame, and make our communities a better, more peaceful place to live.