I have thick thighs, wide hips, and large breasts. It’s not often that I see women who look like me on the cover of yoga magazines, but I can always find women with bodies like mine in museums.
I have a body type that might be considered “classically beautiful.” But I want to be considered a current beauty, and I think many women in my position might agree.
It's scary to learn that most women suffer from body dissatisfaction, regardless of what they look like. The general consensus among women nowadays is, "I’m not good enough."
Teaching yoga in the Hollywood-driven city of Los Angeles, as I do, makes it easy to feel different than the norm. Television actresses, movie stars, and yoga teachers seem tiny compared to me. Earlier in my career, I actually hesitated to follow my passion for teaching because I was insecure that I had a “non-ideal” body type.
I realize that this lack of confidence is an epidemic that spreads beyond the yoga world in L.A. Our current concept of feminine beauty is derived from women we see in movies, TV, and magazines, who are generally 20% under what’s considered a healthy weight. These unrealistic images of beauty create a difficult standard to maintain, which often leads to self-consciousness, if not self-hate.
A constant urge to lose weight to look like the women we see in media can create unhealthy expectations for ourselves. Our attempts to achieve unrealistic goals often fail, or we achieve them at a great expense. We’re left with lower self-esteem than when we started.
I can remember a time when I’ve been heavier, as well as a time when I’ve weighed less than my current weight. I know what it takes for me to go in either direction, but the truth is that my current weight is natural for me. Most importantly, I know that I'm healthy.
So when I sometimes hear my nasty inner critic start to judge my body when I see photos or videos of myself, I take a deep breath and smile.
I’m proud to put an image into the public eye that can act as a counter to what we normally see. Yes, it can be hard at times to compete against the slew of petite teachers who look more like the “ideal” images I see on magazine covers, but I have to remember that it’s not a competition between me and these other women. The real battle is me against the self-hate that comes as a result of seeing modern media.
So, when I look in the mirror and compliment my curvy shape, I’ve won.
When I practice yoga and smile at the strength of my thick thighs, I’ve won.
And when I get in front of the camera, wearing tight yoga clothes with nothing to hide behind, again, I’ve won.
Hopefully the media I create will inspire other women with more curvaceous bodies to do the same. Collectively, the images we put into the world will represent more realistic concepts of beauty that don’t require unhealthy behaviors. As a result, we will start to see more images of beauty and strength in all shapes and sizes.
True beauty is within. Hopefully, sooner than later, women will be valued more for their self-worth rather than their size.