I am featured in today’s edition of The Vancouver Sun – one of the biggest local newspapers in the area! It’s great news! I was super-pumped for this article to come out.
Yet here I am, admitting to all of you that what I really wanted to do when I saw the article this morning, was cry.
I had a blast during the interview, talking about my passion for body positivity and yoga. The reporter jotted notes furiously throughout our conversation and verified several quotes. It was a surprisingly positive experience. I didn’t feel led in any way and I feel like the reporter took the time to understand my position.
After the interview, she sent out a photographer to take a bunch of photos of me doing yoga so they could pick one for the article. The photographer was nice, got me to relax, and got so many really, really great pose photos. The weather had cooperated. It was a beautiful day and my feet were planted on my mat on a huge expanse of bright green grass with a gorgeous blue sky above me and sunlight just lighting me up from head to toe. I felt like a supermodel! Especially as I heard the shutter clicking away and the photographer calling out “That’s just BEAUTIFUL!”. The whole experience felt amazing from start to finish.
Knowing that the article was scheduled for today's edition of the paper, I rushed to the store this morning to pick up my copy. The article is fairly well done, all things considered. I’m not in love with the title because the term “super-size” has negative connotations and subtly perpetuates the fast-food eating fat people stereotype. But in general, all of us who were interviewed for the article shared a common goal – to create a safe, healthy, welcoming space for people of size to get healthier, regardless of any weight-loss and I think that message came across in the article, edits and all.
But when I saw the picture of me, my heart sunk and I got that tight, restricted feeling in the pit of my belly. Here I was, looking at a picture of myself in the newspaper. Something that probably thousands (or more!?) people will see. And I don’t like the picture.
The photographer took just a very few frames of me in Warrior II pose from this diagonal-to-me angle. When he showed me the photos quickly near the end I loved almost every single one. Except that one.
So seeing that particular photo in the paper set off a major internal rant. And so the monologue of negativity began: This angle is wrong! Warrior II is usually pictured from the side. I'm squinting and not smiling. It looks like I'm straining, not at all easeful in the pose, even though I was. I was squinting into the sun which was probably the reason for the scrunched not-smiling face. My belly looks all soft and relaxed in front, in spite of the fact that my core was engaged, making it look larger than it normally does, my alignment looks funny but I know I set up the pose properly. Where is all the beautiful grass and sky and trees that surrounded me? I really don't like the angle...
It seemed neverending and I was sure that I could never run out of bad things to say about the photo, which is kind of counter to the entire point - which was to show realistic images of me, a fat yogini, doing yoga. One of the things I was most excited about was the chance to be a source of some real representation in media of what is possible in a larger body. So why was I freaking out about my belly looking large when that is exactly the point of it all?
And the answer to that question is this: because I've spent many more years hating my body than I have loving it.
Self-love is hard. It’s not like you snap your fingers one day and you suddenly love your body. Body acceptance and body-love and confidence are things that have taken a great deal of work and that work isn’t finished. It probably won't ever be finished. It’s a journey. And, just like any other transformative process, some days are going to be easier and some, harder. And so, today, it's a harder day.
I have never felt so exposed or so vulnerable as I do today. But putting myself out there is exactly what I want and need to be doing. It’s what I am passionate about.
Putting myself on display, as a fat yogini and Yoga teacher is how I show the rest of the world that being fat doesn’t have to stop you from living your life or following your dreams. It is by being willing to be highly visible, by walking the talk, that I hope to inspire and motivate others to live life fully and completely, right now.
The truth is, I probably would have felt uncomfortable no matter which photo they chose to print. Because it's really not about the photo at all. It's about the fear of living my life unapologetically within a society that expects me to be embarrassed and ashamed of my size.
And so, I am going to do what I advised in the previous article. I’m going to breathe. I’m going to breathe right through the discomfort. Because I am also aware that this article represents a turning point for me and my teaching. I am on the cusp of setting up public group classes. Things are happening and momentum is building. What began, for me, as a teeny tiny baby dream is becoming a reality. And that is the magic and the joy of this process.
So I’m here. I’m breathing. I’m reminding myself that I am strong, I am confident, I am beautiful, and I am okay – exactly as I am. I’m reminding myself that I am safe and that this is just one more awesome step in the journey to living my passion.
And, once I’ve broken through the discomfort, I know that what I will feel is proud: proud of myself for doing what I love, for standing up for what I believe in, and for following my dreams – no matter how scary that path is sometimes.