Think of yoga and do slim women like Shilpa Shetty and Bipasha Basu come to mind? Do you also think that fat people are unhealthy and cannot be flexible?
Think again, because Jessamyn Stanley, a "yoga enthusiast and fat femme" is changing how people see yoga, fitness and fat people altogether.
A talented yogi and yoga instructor, Jessamyn’s Instagram account has over 1.93 lakh followers and features her in yoga poses most people could only dream of doing.
Her positive take on body image and yoga is changing the way people see themselves and shattering stereotypes associated with fitness and flexibility being characteristics limited to a single body type.
She began practicing yoga at 24, encouraged by a friend to go to a Bikram yoga studio. The experience started out as an intimidating one, reinforced by body obsession endorsed by her parents and years of taunts by colleagues about her body.
However, she realized that her insecurities about her body were merely a reflection of the fears people have of their own bodies.
“Yoga helped me realize that all of my body hang-ups were based fears that other people have about their OWN bodies, and it has completely transformed the way I see myself,” she told MTV UK.
Jessamyn calls herself the ‘unicorn of health’, implying that people’s a healthy fat person exists only in people’s imagination.
“A healthy fat person is an oxymoron to most people. People don’t realize that they can’t tell anything about someone else’s health by just looking at them. Realistically, that just is not the case…there are so many different ways to be healthy – why are we conforming to just one type of ‘healthy’ body?” she told the Runway Riot.
As an instructor, Jessamyn makes it point to concentrate on positive body image. She believes that there is no point in people trying to be like each other when they can be beautiful just being themselves.
“Comparison is SO different than inspiration. If I function as something you compare yourself to, that’s a problem. That inherently means that you are not loving your body, but directly contrasting it to mine,” she insists.
Speaking about losing weight, Jessamyn in her blog writes, "I hate equating weight loss and overall health and wellness. While I think there are a number of legitimate health reasons to lose weight, I don’t think being physically smaller is a necessity to achieve better overall health. I definitely don’t think it’s a necessity to practice advanced yoga postures,” she says.
“HOWEVER, it would be completely hypocritical for me to ignore the weight I’ve lost as a direct result of my yoga practice," she adds.