Jessamyn Stanley is a body positive advocate and Yoga instructor. She is also a writer in Durham, North Carolina. Her classes provide a body positive approach to yoga. The Instagram ‘Yogi’- who goes by the name @jessamynstanley, celebrates students’ bodies and encourages them to ask,“How do I feel?” instead of “How do I look?” when practicing yoga. Yoga comes with the misconception that you have to look lean and skinny. Think again! Stanley is not skinny and she is loving it.
Why Do We Limit Ourselves With The ‘Fat Yoga’ Label?
Jessamyn Stanley’s Instagram traction proves people’s level of shock and interest towards a non-skinny yoga teacher. Stanley says “I was getting responses to my pictures that said: ‘Wow, I didn’t know that fat people can do that,'”
Stanley started making headlines in 2016. Ever since, she’s been taking both the Instagram and yoga world’s by storm. She even has an impressive following of 200,000 people.
Stanley makes it her mission to challenge topics like body positivity, ‘fat yoga,’ and traditional stereotypes around the ‘yoga body.’ Her lifestyle and story is both refreshing and mind-opening to many of us. She takes pride in her uniqueness by proclaiming herself as a ‘fat femme’ and ‘yoga enthusiast.’
Even the expert yoga communities on Instagram have chipped in, telling her that her level of form and technique inspires them.
What Is Stanley’s Take On Body-Shaming?
Jessamyn Stanley has never believed that her body shape could hinder her ability to take part in any form of physical activity. She is constantly shocked at the large number of people who truly doubt their abilities, because of their size. More importantly, the amount of people who are judging other’s that are trying, based on their bodies. Stanley tells us that she “had a few hang-ups about her size, but never saw that as a reason not to be able to do yoga.” Moreover, that “there’s a major disconnect in our society between what people can do and what we show people that they can do.”
The ‘Yogi’ tells the Guardian that often she would take photographs of herself. She would look at herself and immediately think, “Oh, my belly is there and it is fat!”However, she is now realising that she is actually extremely strong and able to hold poses. She says that even though her belly is there, she is still fit and capable.
Stanley is building such a strong fan-base, because of her body-affirming, inclusive approach to yoga. Her unique story and interesting yoga methods make her extremely relatable to an everyday person. As her popularity increases rapdily with each year, she has unintentionally become the body positivity poster girl.
How Does Stanley Use Yoga To Promote A Positive Body Image?
Stanley expresses that she feels “like yoga is body positive because it’s saying you don’t need to be concerned about what other people think of you.” It has also shown her that she’s “strong and capable, which are both tenants of body positivism.”
However, Stanley realises that even though yoga is great to improve self-esteem, it cannot do all the work for you. Interestingly, she believes that it is shortsighted to think yoga will magically make you think positively about your body. Although it does help, the real problem lies within. These are problems that you need to resolve yourself. She says you need to begin asking yourself questions that you haven’t asked yourself before.
What Are Jessamyn Stanley’s Future Plan’s For You?
Dianne Neumark-Sztainer is a professor at the University of Minnesota’s school of public health and a certified yoga teacher. She agrees that yoga can be a vehicle for improving self-image. She says “there is some research that suggests that individuals practicing yoga are more aware of their bodies and less likely to objectify their bodies.”
It has even been discovered, that individuals with eating disorders, feel less body shame and more comfort after doing yoga. This discovery was founded in a research study by Neumark-Sztainer. Therefore, Stanley has teamed-up with other women fighting the idea that only people of certain sizes can do these things. The Guardian recently reported that Tess Holliday became the first-ever size 22 (UK size 26) model to be signed to an agency. Furthermore, within the fitness world, Roslyn Mays has also proven that being too fat for fitness is a lie-with her award-winning pole dancing skills.
Jessamyn Stanley may not have intentionally set out on this path. However, by just living her own life and doing what she loves, she’s becoming a role model worldwide. She experiences her own ups and downs, not everybody is perfect. But, through her honest stories she hopes to change people’s attitudes and continue to advocate body positivity on a large scale.