The WANT Women: Jessamyn Stanley On Being Worthy From Top To Bottom
“Negative talk shows up in my life in the typical places – it’s at lunch with my college girlfriends, and in the locker room of the gym. It’s at work, with my coworkers. But you know where it isn’t? At my house, in my bedroom, in my heart, or on my yoga mat. And that’s all that matters.”
That’s when I knew for sure I’d fallen in Insta-love with Jessamyn Stanley.
Western “yoga culture” elicits strong opinions and feelings from practitioners, teachers, and pop culture mavens who see it plastered on billboards and capitalized on in commercials as well as headlining summer tours and vacation retreats. Becoming a yoga teacher is now considered a lucrative and fulfilling career (as it should be!), and folks are now foregoing happy hour in order to get their flow on. Hippie-dippie festival gear is headlining the aisles at Target. Mats and mantras are being sold in the same strip malls as 7-Elevens.
And that’s not a bad thing. The more people who are open to yoga – whether it be a regular asana practice or simply a yogic lifestyle – the better. Like the food you choose to eat, yoga is a fluid concept that can be tailored to each individual’s life and lifestyle. And just like healthy eating is trending right now, so is yoga – and that inherently exposes more and more people to an aspect of life that isn’t just good for YOU, it’s good for the world AROUND you. We’re all just bouncing off each other’s energy waves, after all.
The problem with yoga as a pop culture phenomenon isn’t the yoga itself…it’s the generalizations and assumptions surrounding it. It used to be that yoga was just for the crunchy-granola set of the population. Not the case any more. It can sometimes seem like yoga is just about the gymnast poses and aerial acrobatics.
But the biggest problem and biggest yoga myth that’s out there? That yoga is just for one body type.
People like Jessamyn are the solution.
As a yoga teacher, body positive advocate, writer, and all-around incredible human being, Jessamyn is all about yoga equality; about the fact that all yoga is accessible whether you’re a size 2 or size 22.
The majority of yoga photos we see – mostly of “advanced” poses – while aspirational, aren’t necessarily portrayed as accessible. The lack of diversity in yoga pop culture can be harrowing, making those who don’t fit into the stereotype believe by default that they’re unable to practice in a certain way, or lift themselves into picturesque poses without their curves or “girls” getting in the way (I know. I’ve been there). Jessamyn argues that yoga is not about being heavyset or rail thin, it’s about owning your body and getting to know yourself through that full range of self-expressed movement, whatever that looks like for you.
I was instantly drawn to Jessamyn for her honesty, humor, and wisdom. In general, yes (she’s one of those women you feel you know really well just by reading what they have to say, you know?) – but particularly on the subject of body image and self image. I’ve felt my own insecurities in my journey with yoga, thinking I “should” look a certain way in order to be able to practice at a certain “level.” Yet I soon learned it’s not about looking a certain way or being at a certain level. Levels + looks are fallacies. When it comes to TRUE yoga, your practice + purpose are what's real. Click To Tweet
Her blog and now-famous Instagram account (104K followers and counting, go girl!) feel like a belly laugh, breath of fresh air, sigh of relief, and kick in the pants all at once. Because Jessamyn speaks of observations, issues, experiences with such candor and grace. She’ll be cracking you up one second then reach a little crevice in your heart the very next. Jessamyn is not about perfection – she is about progress. Jessamyn isn’t about extremes – she’s about the journey. Jessamyn isn’t about unreachable – she is about what is fully attainable, as long as you reach out and try. It’s beyond an honor to be hosting this beauty on here today.
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Name: Jessamyn Stanley
How you’d know me: I’m a body positive yoga Teacher, Writer, Activist
What I love about myself (and why): I love my commitment to personal authenticity at all costs- that I actively strive to be myself at all times.
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Negative talk shows up in my life in the typical places – it’s at lunch with my college girlfriends, and in the locker room of the gym. It’s at work, with my coworkers. But you know where it isn’t? At my house, in my bedroom, in my heart, or on my yoga mat. And that’s all that matters.
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When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… when I’m disappointed in myself and my ego’s gotten in the way.
When others talk negatively about themselves… I am dismayed by the fact that our language can seep into each other’s lives simply by talking negatively about ourselves.
It baffles me that women still… can’t accept the role they play in the continuation of rape control by condoning slut shaming.
I wish that more women… recognized all parts of themselves as beautiful and worthy, from top to bottom.
My top female role models: I am a big fan of many female athletes- I love Amanda Bingson and Serena Williams. I also love Beth Ditto and I’m constantly inspired by Kathryn Budig.
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… being more open with themselves about their actual desires. I mean, if more men just admitted that they love to have sex with chubby women, imagine how they could boost overall female morale!
Favorite negativity-busting activity: You’re probably thinking “um, OBVIOUSLY SHE’D SAY THAT” but whatever- YOGA. YOGA. YOGA. It is the universe’s medicine.
Fave self-love ritual: a DIY pedicure and full body scrub can work wonders for my mental health.
Favorite feel-good foods: Dried fruits, Coconut Water, Tater Tots
Favorite movies to watch when I’m feeling down: Love, Actually, Adventures in Babysitting, Shortbus
My feel-good playlist: It’s basically just Rachmaninoff symphonies with a few Kendrick Lamar songs thrown in.
Advice I would give my
…4 year old self: “Enjoy nap time. Just try to fucking appreciate it.”
…14 year-old self: “Yes, this is as good as it will ever get with boys.”
…24 year old self: “Don’t be defined by your relationships with other people. Define yourself by your own goals and dreams.”
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list:
1. Learn to surf
2. See the northern lights.
3. Write my memoir.
4. Find out my genealogy and travel to the part of Africa where my family most likely originated.
5. Visit a Japanese cat café.
My best tip on self love: Stop using other people’s opinions to define yourself. Figure out who you are and make peace with it.
Right now, I am most excited about… my fall yoga teaching schedule, because I will get to visit so many different places and meet so many different students and feel our internet borne yoga tribe bloom into a true mobile network.
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My body is: a monster of epic proportions.
Three words to describe me: Curious, Relentless, Free
Current mantra: “Esse Quam Videri”- To Be Rather, Than To Seem
Catch Jessamyn on her East Coast tour this Summer and Fall! Check out tour dates here – you don’t wanna miss this. Trust me.