A friend recently asked me how I made the shift towards a more positive body image.
And I froze.
Despite writing about this often and thinking about it even more, an answer didn't easily spring to mind. I think that's because it's a monolithic question in a lot of ways, and I've done SO many different things that it's hard to narrow it down.
Now, those things aren't blah blah to me—not at all. They're actually two of my most important tools that I use on a regular basis. But they were blah blah to her at the time because I knew she'd heard it all before, and she was struggling. She wanted to hear something different, and I knew I wasn't being as real as I wanted to be.
One More Layer
And then it hit me.
As soon as I could, I jumped back into the conversation and told my friend, "One of the biggest things I did was completely change my environment."
That got her attention.
Creating My Life
Second, I also changed my home. I got rid of all the clothes I was hanging onto for the hopes of fitting into one day. I couldn't believe the shift that created for me energetically. I quite literally felt freer after unburdening myself of the expectations infused in those clothes. I also hid my scale from myself. Of course, I knew it was still there, but more often than not I didn't think about it when it wasn't the first thing I saw every morning. Again, over time, as I fell out of the routine of weighing myself two-three times a week, I missed it less and less.
The Myth of Giving Up
And, my, isn't that a pervasive myth? We even have jokes about it—how people get older, married, in a busy job, have kids or whatever (it really doesn't matter the reason, does it?)—and they "give up." In this scenario, giving up is meant to mean on the way they look. What a sad social construct.
First of all, I think this is ridiculous, offensive, and designed solely to support the diet and beauty industries. Second, you know what looks better on people than a smaller pair of pants? Not hating themselves.
Truly, don't we all know those people whose bodies don't fit the standard beauty norms but who everyone thinks is radiant and gorgeous? I know I do. And it's not because of their clothes or makeup. It's because they have a light within, and they shine it out with confidence.
Where Yoga Comes In
The more I talk with people about how yoga affects their body image, the more inspired I am by how it creates a positive shift for so many types of people in different ways. Although yoga culture these days can sometimes contribute less positively to body image issues, the actual practice of yoga reconnects people with their bodies and gives them a way to relate to them that might otherwise be difficult or even in accessible.
Making the Shift
You'll also notice that with everything I did, I said "over time" or "slowly." This didn't happen overnight?not by a long shot. So if there are things you might like to change in your life, figure out your own pace and method.
And start making the shift.
Anna Guest-Jelley, MA (Nashville, TN) is the founder of CurvyYoga.com, a training and inspiration portal for curvy yogis that has been featured in The Washington Post, Yoga Journal, U.S. News & World Report and Yoga ...