Reclaiming our bodies from societal expectations means being able to look at every single piece of ourselves. But I was never shown that as a child. As a fat, Black, queer person, I covered up and chose only flattering clothing; that was my modus operandi. Throughout my life, whenever I’d look in the mirror, I’d criticize my body the whole time. I always felt I wasn’t good enough.
When I took my first yoga class in grad school, everything seemed impossible at first. But it showed me how many barriers I create for myself.
There were so many times I’d say, “I can’t do this. I shouldn’t even try.” How many opportunities was I missing out on because I’d decided that I wasn’t good enough?
Once I started recording my home yoga practice and posting on social media, that process forced me to look at my body in a new way. That’s when I started to examine how I talked to myself.
In the moment of practicing a posture, I’d think, Yoga is amazing. I love everything. And then I would look at the photos and start talking down to myself. But I was happy in those photos! If I hadn’t found yoga, I wouldn’t have been able to bear witness to my inner monologue. That’s been crucial for forming a different relationship with my body.
Watch Jessamyn Stanley talk about her tattoos and what she loves most about her body:
I don’t always feel amazing about my body, but I’ve learned that what’s truly beautiful is the strength in vulnerability—pushing yourself, opening up, and letting go. The more you can submit to the powers that be and go with the flow, the stronger you’ll be.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2023 issue of Women’s Health.
Amanda Lucci is the deputy editor of content strategy at Women’s Health and a NASM-certified personal trainer. She has more than 10 years of experience writing, editing, and managing social media strategy for national and international publications.