The In­dian woman de­fy­ing body stereo­types through yoga

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

A plus-sized In­dian woman is chal­leng­ing body stereo­types and de­fy­ing in­ter­net trolls with a se­ries of yoga videos that are prov­ing a hit on so­cial me­dia. Dolly Singh, 34, has gained some­thing of a fan fol­low­ing on­line for pro­mot­ing body pos­i­tiv­ity by show­ing that size is no bar­rier to mas­ter­ing com­plex yoga moves. “To say ‘You can’t do this be­cause you have so much weight,’ I don’t be­lieve that,” Singh tells AFP af­ter com­plet­ing her morn­ing stretch in a Mum­bai park.

Four years ago a doc­tor ad­vised her to lose weight fol­low­ing an an­kle sprain. Singh, who is 4 feet 11 inches (150 cm), weighed al­most 90 kilo­grams (198 pounds) at the time. She got a trainer and em­braced the “whole frenzy of los­ing weight” but grew bored of run­ning so she signed up for some­thing she’d never done be­fore-yoga. “The first class I was think­ing ‘Can I re­ally do this be­cause I have a big body?’ Af­ter two or three class I re­al­ized peo­ple were look­ing at me and think­ing ‘Oh my god she can do this’. My body had a cer­tain kind of stamina, of flex­i­bil­ity.”

Singh, who works for a TV chan­nel in In­dia’s fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal, soon re­al­ized there were lim­i­ta­tions to group classes and sought the in­struc­tion she needed from videos on­line. “We all have dif­fer­ent bod­ies and if my teacher doesn’t have a belly, how will they know what the prob­lems are of hav­ing a big belly,” she ex­plains, laugh­ing. “I’m a big busted per­son and if the teacher isn’t how are they go­ing to un­der­stand that when I’m do­ing a Halasana (plough pose) I’m al­most chok­ing to death!” Singh started film­ing her­self to mon­i­tor her progress and then be­gan post­ing clips of her yoga poses on In­sta­gram.

Soon she was in­un­dated with mes­sages, mainly from for­eign­ers at first but then from In­dian women say­ing that Singh was an in­spi­ra­tion to them. “I’ve been over­whelmed by some peo­ple say­ing they would feel alien­ated in a room full of per­fect yoga bod­ies, how they would feel that ev­ery­one is watch­ing them. “There’s an idea of not show­ing your body if you’re big bod­ied. You’re sup­posed to hide ev­ery­thing be­cause its not ap­peal­ing or it’s not some­thing peo­ple like to see but that’s just some­thing that’s been sold to us,” she in­sists. The re­sponse hasn’t all been pos­i­tive how­ever. Singh says she has been the vic­tim of body sham­ing on­line.

“In­dian men have not been en­cour­ag­ing at all. There are a lot of peo­ple who write very nasty com­ments. They would say some­thing like ‘You’re just a fat blob, you look just like an ele­phant or bear, or you’re un­fit or it’s be­cause you’re eat­ing so much food. “I com­pletely ig­nore th­ese things. You can’t fight in­ter­net trolls. I don’t know th­ese peo­ple so why should it bother me?” Singh, who cur­rently weighs 73 kg, says she will con­tinue try­ing to sell “a more pos­i­tive body im­age” and “chal­lenge no­tions of fit­ness and beauty”. “I’m not aim­ing to have this thin fig­ure but I am aim­ing to have a beau­ti­ful flow and make my body strong through yoga,” she says, smil­ing.—AFP

MUM­BAI, Maharashtra: This photo show Dolly Singh, 34, do­ing yoga at a park in Mum­bai. —AFP

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