Last night, after my last class wrapped up, I received an email from a major, national, Canadian news network asking to include me in a story they plan to run on Monday.
My first reaction was, "Oh my gosh. Excitement! Publicity for the studio! YAY!" and then I read the content of the email and had that immediate gut feeling that this story was most likely not one that would represent the values of my yoga studio. And I had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to be the type of news article that would feature pictures of headless larger-bodied people. And somewhere within the context, Body Positivity Yoga would be included as an example of a great place for overweight or obese people to go to get moving and be "healthier". And maybe, some would say, that doesn't seem so bad...
But the thing is, articles like that are part of the larger issue of unrealistic body image promotion in mainstream media and I can't be a part, no matter how small, in the fear-mongering promoted by a five BILLION dollar a year (or more) diet and weight-loss industry that is more powerful than Big Tobacco.
The biggest part of the work that I do as The Fat Yogini and as the owner of Yoga studio that is diet and weight-loss talk free is promoting a body-positive agenda. Central to that agenda is this idea:
When I read the request, words popped out like big giant flaming red flags: "struggle with weight", "obesity", "new guidelines". And I just felt what my body was telling me, my gut. And I knew.
My response was polite, clear, and simple. And it went a little something like this:
"I am the owner of the studio - and I go by The Fat Yogini. But I wouldn't say I (or my clients) "struggle" with our weight. Rather, the idea behind my Yoga studio is self-acceptance and moving for the joy of it regardless of your size, age, or level of ability. Body Positivity Yoga is a diet and weight-loss talk free space.
Before I could participate, I would need to understand the point/message of the story. If you can provide me with some more details, I will let you know what we can help you with.
If the story is body-positive and promotes a message of self-acceptance, then I am sure we can work something out!"
As soon as I hit the send button, I was totally overwhelmed by this incredible feeling.
In the context of my life, I've always had a hard time with "authority figures", people I see as experts. And generally I have tended to feel like more of a follower than a leader. But I've spent a lot of years working on myself, on my sense of self, on confidence and self-esteem. And this was one of those moments where I realized, wow. I really have come a long way!
I felt like I'd just told a major news network to buzz off. Which, in my own way, I did. And instead of feeling scared. I felt GREAT! Strong. Awesome. Happy. Proud of myself. Feeling like a total grown-up (and let me tell you, that doesn't happen very often, the feeling 'grown-up' part, that is.)
Please bear with me as I'm about to give an example that probably only some of you might be able to relate to... but have you ever had that shoppers high?
You know, that feeling you get, when, say, you find that purse you've been lusting after (the one that usually costs way, way too much) in a thrift store for like eight bucks, in perfect condition? And then, after you've bought it, you walk away feeling like you just got away with something really naughty and you're just generally WINNING at life?
This feels like that... except multiplied like ten-fold.
Establishing and holding boundaries, not only for myself and my business but for the clients who see this studio as a safe space? It doesn't get any more bad-ass than that.
And as for that major, national, Canadian news network?
They are more than welcome to track me down when they're ready to tell a story about self-acceptance.