I’m teaching a yoga class. We’re reclined, one leg in the air, a hand holding that leg while the other rests on the hip. I notice for the first time that my hip feels soft where it used to be angular. I’m sure that it didn’t happen overnight, but somehow, I’m just noticing it. ‘I’m getting fatter.’ For a split second I’m disappointed and frustrated. Then I realize that I like the way it feels beneath my hand. It feels feminine. Look at me sporting soft, feminine hips. I love the way that looks on other women too. How is it that I’m becoming what I admire when my inner critic always shames me towards thinness?
The kind of women I admire have always been the same: welcoming, loving, with a strong listening ear. They have a strong sense of self, they dare to live differently, they follow their heart. They value their time and set boundaries, they’re honest and willing to acknowledge when they’ve made mistakes. They have a tendancy to be wild, but they’re sensitive too. One of my favourite characteristics about these women is their love for food. Eating is a part of enjoying life to the fullest, forget denying yourself! These wide-awake women are ample bodied, and it only adds to their appeal.
I’m glad that I’m becoming a wide-awake woman myself. I realize that it’s not only my inner critic that shames me towards thinness, it’s a popular message at large. We’ve been led to believe that we’re bad, less awesome, failing, if we’re gaining weight. I grew up with relatives saying, “what’s good on the lips goes straight to the hips” warning me away from my second piece of pie as a child. My grandmother recently asked if I was pregnant. I told her I’m not, then she chided me for having a tummy. “Don’t you lead fitness stuff? I thought you’d be slimmer.” That was a bomb to navigate. I don’t tend to put much into what she says, but she pressed a sensitive button: that I should look differently for my job. Logically I know that I can look however and still teach loved classes.
The reality I resonate with is that I’m a proud curvy woman who doesn’t fit into the typical box. In being this, I invite students of all shapes to feel comfortable as they are and we’re all comfortable together. It’s a reality I need to consciously choose again and again. There’s mainstream messaging of what’s “healthy” and “right”. It’s up to us to consider if the message sits well with us or should be questioned. You’re allowed to find your own perspective. I’ve become more aware every day that I can choose how I feel and react.
I love teaching yoga. I love it for how it makes the body feel, but even more for how it’s a peaceful vacation for the mind (the way I teach anyway). I love being the favourite part of someone’s week. I love that my job is physical. I love to nourish my body and I love to taste what’s good on the lips. I can see that I’m growing into a woman I’d admire. Heck, I admire me on the journey!
I already lead people in peaceful movement, soon I’ll lead them in a movement to love and accept themselves in my workshop. A journey that I’m authentically working through right now and I’m happy to share.