So, you may or may not have heard about what's been going on in Georgia.
So, I'll do my best to sum it up. An organization, which claims to be concerned about the childhood obesity rate in Georgia, has released an onslaught of negative, shaming, scare-tactic filled advertisements on billboards and in bus depots around the state. The type of advertisements they're running are distressing to say the least. If you want to see what I mean, here are some examples.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out, that if the goal is to encourage a healthier lifestyle, shame doesn't work!! Self-conscious kids are more likely to hide, play video games, and lead quiet, sedentary lives than confident kids. If we raise our kids to be confident, then maybe they won't second guess themselves if they want to try out for a sports team or start up a fun physical hobby like cycling, jogging, hooping, dancing, or martial arts. The more our kids hate their bodies and themselves, the LESS likely they are to step out and do something new and different. I was a chubby kid and then a fat adult, and I'll tell you that I didn't start leading a more active lifestyle until I began to LIKE my body. I can't say enough how important this is. So, in response to S4L's icky tactics, a number of folks in the fat acceptance and body positive communities have taken action. Here's a couple of my favourites:
Marilyn Wann (author of the book FAT!SO?) began an online counter-campaign to S4L's shaming ads by editing submitted photos of individuals to include their own "I STAND" statement meant to inspire and encourage (NOT shame). You can see the photo and statement I submitted above. You can read more about this project here. And keep an eye on new STANDards (as they have been named) via her tumblr page.
Ragen Chastain (professional level dancer and author of the popular blog Dances with Fat) began raising money for a campaign to compete with S4L. She raised the money needed, including a matching donation from More of Me to Love and will be putting up POSITIVE message billboards and advertisments to send the kids of Georgia a more body-loving message. Read more about her progress here.
I support both of these projects wholeheartedly and am so grateful to all of those involved in them for their hard work and their efforts in addressing the issue of fat shaming in Georgia.
Happy New Year!
Wow, how time flies!!
I began this year, not with resolutions, but with determination to complete several goals I have set for myself. The most exciting, of course, is to complete my training and receive my Yoga Teacher 200 hour certification.
There's been a lot of studying, and I found myself getting absorbed in lots of extra materials that I acquired, which have been so helpful. But, the time has come for me to complete my first stage of training. My practical exam will be completed by Saturday and, once it and my other materials have been marked - I will be officially certified at the 200 hour level. Hooray!! This is a huge milestone and I am so excited to see it happen.
But that's not all I've been up to! Since October, I've been leading a gentle Hatha Yoga class called Yoga Bears, designed especially for a wonderful group of men from Vancouver's Gay Bear community. They are a warm and accepting group who never fails to amaze and delight me every week with their enthusiasm and growth in their practice. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with them, and hope to continue working with them for a long time to come.
But, now that my training is coming to a close, I am finally making plans for the first Body Positivity Yoga™ Gentle Hatha Yoga Class Series (all genders). I've put a poll up on my Facebook Wall to see what days and times work best for those who are interested. Please do go there, like the page, and leave your feedback on the poll! Right now, Wednesday early evenings (6-7 or 7-8pm) are leading with Saturday mornings (10-11am or 11am-12pm) a close second. Once I have a clear idea of the most popular time slots, I'll work on nailing down the location, but it will most likely be Vancouver or Burnaby.
2011 was a big year for me. In the spring, a teeny tiny dream was born - to become a Yoga Teacher who specializes in leading classes for the OTHER people: people who have been curious or interested or even passionate about yoga but have not felt comfortable attending the classes available in their communities - either for fear of fitting in or concerns that the class material would be too intense or advanced for their level of ability. With care, I've grown that teeny, tiny dream into a reality. Launching the Body Positivity Yoga™ classes will be the result of a gigantic leap of faith in myself, and the continued determination to see my dream become a reality. And I have to tell you, it feels pretty amazing.
What I want is for my future students to see themselves mirrored in me and the other students in every class. Teaching the class as an out and proud queer fat femme Yoga Teacher, I hope to create an environment that is welcoming to all, so that no one has to fear "not fitting in". This yoga is about YOU. And YOU are beautiful and amazing - exactly as you are.
Looking forward to seeing you in all your fabulousness on the mat, very soon.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” Nelson Mandela
I know I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy studying like a good Yoga Teacher in Training! But, what better excuse for a new post than one in honour of Love Your Body Day (October 19th) and End Fat Talk Week (October 16-22nd)!!
If you've read my previous posts in this blog, then you are already well aware that I am a very body-positive kind of gal. But that doesn't mean that I still don't struggle. It is difficult to be body-positive in a not-very-body-positive sort of world.
Every single day, I am bombarded with messages that fat is bad and thin is in. I am surrounded by people who use self-deprecating talk. Nothing is more demoralizing than being in a room filled with women who all talk about how they hate their bodies, and that is my every day reality. Making comments about hating your hips, your muffin-top, your thighs, your hair, your nose, your whatever - seems to be a socially acceptable way for women to bond with each other. By choosing to love my body, I am forever excluded from that club. Not being a member is okay with me, but it doesn't change the fact that the constant message surrounding me is that the majority of women behave this way, so I should too.
I get funny looks and arched eyebrows when everyone in the room (most of them quite slender) are talking about their diets and I am just sipping my coffee and keeping my mouth shut. After all, as the fat girl in the room, I should be right there on the bandwagon with them, right? Except that I'm not.
I don't want to feel obligated to make some socially acceptable comment about feeling guilty about that brownie I'm about to eat. I'd rather eat the brownie, enjoy it, and move on with my day rather than spend more time feeling guilty about the indulgence than finding pleasure in it. In my opinion, I have two choices: eat the brownie, or don't eat the brownie. If I CHOOSE to eat the brownie, than I'm going to pay attention and enjoy it. If I choose NOT to eat the brownie, it's going to be because I'm not hungry, it doesn't sound appetizing, and I don't want to - not because I feel guilty or have outlawed brownies.
Being body-positive is a challenge. It makes me unpopular at times. That's hard. We are, after all, social creatures and most of us spend our lives craving the acceptance of others. But it's a lifestyle I am committed to living. It makes me happy. It makes me feel like I can do anything. EVERYONE deserves to feel that way.
Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? In one scene, all the "popular" girls pose in front of the mirror declaring something they hate about themselves while the others offer insincere pity and nods of understanding. The heroine of the tale, having been homeschooled and not exposed to this odd 'game' can't figure out what to say she hates about her body - so she tries and ends up confessing that she has really bad breath in the morning. The thing is, having not been exposed to peer pressure her whole life, she had no concept of why she even *should* dislike anything about her body. So, when pressured to come up with something - she couldn't. It's a playful and glaring example of the ways that body-hate is "popular" and body-love is not understood or accepted in a general way.
When a fat girl says "I love my body exactly how it is", she risks being met with shock, disgust, pity, or even outrage. How dare I, as a fat person, choose to stay fat? The very idea! It's completely unrelatable to most.
Maybe it's unrealistic to expect that people would nod approvingly at this declaration, the same as they would if I said "Wow, I hate being fat, I need to go on a diet!". But it's what needs to start happening. We need to start recognizing that how someone chooses to occupy their body is their choice and to live your life accepting yourself is a pretty big accomplishment. Let's start acknowledging it as such!
We all need to look at the message we send to our friends, our coworkers, our family members, and even strangers when we withhold our approval, affection, or encouragement from those who seem happy with themselves or refuse to engage in fat talk or self-deprecating behaviours.
Why is it easier to encourage someone on a diet "You can do it!" "I'm so proud of you", than it is to offer approval over loving their body and feeling confident "It's so great that you are comfortable in your body, how awesome!".
The bottom line is, that it doesn't matter what colour your skin is, where you come from, how tall, short, fat, thin, muscled, scrawny, non-stereotypical, feminine, non-feminine, masculine, non-masculine, curvy, straight, bendy, pimpled, bald, furry, or unusual your appearance is because...
"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection" ~ Buddha
This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival
For more information about Love Your Body Day, Body-Positivity, or the fight to end Fat Talk, I would encourage you to visit these fantastic sites for more information, resources, and general fabulousness:
NOW Foundation's Love Your Body Day
Take the pledge to End Fat Talk
The Body Positive