Cosmopolitan (UK)

“I experience fatphobic comments”

JESSAMYN

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Body-positivity advocate Jessamyn Stanley says any body type can practise and enjoy yoga

Yoga teacher Jessamyn, 33, has become a superstar in the US wellness industry, thanks to her inclusive attitude. ”The reality is yoga has absolutely nothing to do with what you look like. When I first started I was often the only fat person at classes, and frequently the only Black person, so it was very alienating.” Since then, yoga has changed Jessamyn’s life. “It’s basically body-weight training so it has incredible benefits, and feeling physically exhausted helps you mentally and spirituall­y too.” She has amassed 450k followers on Instagram and written a book, but there are drawbacks to the attention.

“I do experience fatphobic comments,” she says. “Just yesterday someone said, ‘Do you really like your body? If I had that body I wouldn’t like it.’” The journey to body acceptance is something that has taken her a long time. “Body-shaming was one of the first things I learned to do. I grew up in a community where all of my physical attributes – wide nose, big belly, big ass, big lips, dark skin – were deemed ugly. I’ve had to accept that’s how the mainstream sees me and not try to change. For me, that’s been very therapeuti­c.”

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