So this feature was nearly finished, with a completely different opening, when a woman I had just met at a party asked what I did for a living. I explained that I taught yoga and worked as a writer.
“Ah,” she said with a sage nod, looking me up and down, “so you have no fat on your body.”
It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. And some variation of it is a very common one to be on the receiving end of as a yoga teacher.
But why? Why have we decided that yoga = thin? (I do have fat on my body FYI.) Where has this idea of the “yoga body” come from?
When I started practising – more than 20 years ago – I understood the yoga body only in relation to pictures of middle-aged Indian men, looking serious and focused. Now there are 126 million search results on Google for “yoga body”. And they almost all show the same thing: a young, thin, tanned, flexible woman, who is probably also beautiful and radiantly happy, and quite possibly semi-clothed on a beach. (There are also a few men who come into this category, invariably they have a top-knot.)
We’re at this strange juncture where yoga is both more inclusive and exclusive than ever. There is wide availability – with studios popping up by the minute and online classes gaining in popularity – but the sometimes eye-watering prices per class, combined with the tapered visual identity, have simultaneously made it feel much more intimidating and alienating.
Leaving aside the systemic issues around class, race, money and privilege (four different features in their own right), the image of yoga is painfully narrow. Yoga magazines, websites, advertising – they all echo the mainstream ‘perfect body’ fable, with images of people with model bodies combined with the flexibility of ballet dancers.
And then there is social media. London-based yoga teacher Becky Farbstein says: “I scroll through my social media feeds, full of yoga teachers, yoga practitioners, and other members of the health and fitness profession, and I feel like I'm paging through a digital version of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit issue. When I step away from the internet, I know I am healthy and strong, but in the myopia of social media, that perspective gets fuzzy.”
The thing is, this “fuzzy” perspective is really dangerous – just as mainstream advertising is – because we are excluding and alienating huge swathes of society from our visual world, perpetuating the ridiculous myth that the most important thing about a woman (and increasingly a man) is how they look. And – here’s the key – that above all else they must be thin.
“Here in the Western world we are obsessed with weight loss, which then translates over to yoga,” says teacher and BigGalYoga founder Valerie Sagun. “We don’t have to be thin (or even fit) to practise yoga. Making people think that you need to be thin to practise yoga is bullying and fat-shaming, and enforcing that if you don’t have a small body you are not wanted in the world.”
Yoga will give you a good body – in the sense that practised regularly it will increase strength, stamina, flexibility, balance, and lung capacity. It may very well lead to weight loss and body sculpting and all of the other things associated with the “yoga body” but, with that as the aim, you will probably miss out on what I think is one of the greatest gifts of yoga – the understanding and appreciation it gives you for your body.
At its very core, yoga asks you to connect (or for most of us, reconnect) with your body. It invites you to get to know yourself a little better – to develop awareness from the inside out, rather than view the self from the outside in. So it’s really, really sad that yoga has become yet another space in our society that has been taken over by a set idea of how our bodies should look. That it is being marketed and sold (make no mistake, it is now a multi-billion pound industry) as a product to help us “lose weight” or “get the perfect body”. This kind of thinking invariably leads to a deep disconnect from the body, resulting in precisely the opposite outcome of the aim of yoga.
This is something author Lauren Lipton is seeking to combat with her new book, Yoga Bodies. Featuring 80 different yoga practitioners of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and skill levels, Lauren created the book because she “know[s] so many people who could benefit from yoga, but it can be intimidating to those who have never tried it. People say, 'I can't do yoga because I'm not flexible' or 'I'm not in good enough shape for yoga'. I wanted to address every reason I could think of why people don't practise.”
Featuring yogis with larger bodies, disabilities (both visible and invisible) and yogis in their 90s, Lipton would like readers to “look through this book, find someone who looks or thinks like them and say, 'If that person can do yoga, so can I'."
Despite the efforts of women like Lauren, Valerie, and BoPo activists such as Jessamyn Stanley, depressing stories of teachers making larger or older students feel singled out are ten a penny. Kim, a 30-year-old copywriter, had a horrible experience at a recent aerial yoga class. “A new teacher asked me to move closer to her. I said I was fine and explained I'd been doing the class for six months, but she insisted that she needed to 'keep an eye on me'. She didn't move any of the slighter girls who had never actually done the class before. It was mortifying.” And John, a 53-year-old secondary school teacher explains: “I’ve done yoga for more than 20 years, but at almost every class with a new teacher I will be the only person handed blocks and bricks for support, even though I don’t need them. And I’m often asked if I’m ‘okay’. It feels condescending, though I try to just laugh it off.”
We make split-second and grossly unfair assumptions about people based on how they look, and yoga is no different. Even internationally acclaimed teacher Dana Falsetti has experienced “quite a bit of subtle discrimination” on account of her size. “When I take a class teachers assume I’m a beginner – none of them ever think I’m a teacher! But I recognise as a teacher – and someone living in this body – that these things are so ingrained, they don’t realise they are ostracising someone.”
Ingrained indeed. I know that we are all distinct and individual and I know that yoga is not about what you do on the mat but about how you treat people off it. I’ve taught 3-month-old babies and wheelchair-bound veterans, and I know that all you need is the breath and that physical asanas can be adapted to help any person of any age, body type, or skill level to find their own mindful, embodied practice. But still, like Farbstein, if I spend too much time on Instagram I begin to feel insecure and wonder whether I should lose a bit of weight or be branding myself as a “yoga goddess”, despite being fully aware that it is insane and misses the point of yoga altogether. There is nothing wrong with self-improvement, or striving to be a better, healthier, stronger version of yourself. However, if you’re losing sight of self-acceptance, and focussing only on the body, you’re increasing your self-absorption and narcissism, and moving further away from your authentic self. It’s the internal qualities that make a yogi! We know that, right?
Yes we do (I hope), but the thing is, yoga is now a brand and, like any good capitalist brand, it needs an image in order to make you feel inadequate and want to buy stuff. It’s hard to sell socks, after all. In the realms of wellness and spirituality we are firmly back to Naomi Wolf and The Beauty Myth, when we thought we’d come so far…
I arrived on my yoga mat as a young teenager with awful body-image problems, and those classes (which were categorically not full of skinny Lycra-clad girls and in fact included my 50-year-old father) were a safe space for me to practise and (unwittingly) develop self-love. It took many more years for me to put that into practice, but the seeds were sown in, and grew from, yoga.
If I were 12 now and coming to the practice today, I seriously wonder whether I would have the same experience. As the teachers from YogaWith comment: “Viewing Instagram images of uber-flexible girls in poses defying gravity one might question the therapeutic value of yoga.”
While writing this feature I asked my Facebook friends if anyone practised yoga and didn’t have a traditional “yoga body” and would like to talk to me. 30-odd people replied saying they would, and nearly every single one of them has a slim body. It was another huge eye-opener for me in terms of our collective body dysmorphia and society’s view of the “yoga body”.
The lessons? Curate your personal visual world wisely; demand more diverse representation and visibility from your external world; and finally, work keenly on your inner world. “We’re all so bogged down with superficial thoughts that we don’t even realise they are false,” says Dana. “Wake up and think critically! Increasing self-awareness for the individual is the first step to creating a more inclusive environment.”
Original feature on Refinery29UK
In the competitive world of spiritual seekers – I kid, but only a little – “sweat lodge” has fast replaced “ayahuasca” at the top of this summer’s most-frequently-overheard-in-the-yoga-studio-changing-room list. (Other notable highlights include: “Does this crystal make me look fat?”)
But what is a sweat lodge anyway?
Let’s start with what it’s not: a sauna. This is a common misconception, born of the fact that in both you enter a sealed space in which rocks are used to generate heat, with added water creating steam. That is, however, where the similarities end.
Now, "sweat lodge" simply describes a structure – typically a dome-shaped hut made from natural materials. What people are referring to when they talk about a sweat lodge is what goes on inside: the ceremony, or sweat.
The ceremony is a religious and spiritual purification of the body, mind and soul. It is performed under the supervision of a leader, and intended for prayer and healing. It is ancient, sacred, and deeply revered among the cultures in which it is traditionally practised. Every aspect of a ceremony – from the construction of the lodge to the prayers offered – is imbued with deeply spiritual symbolism. It is not simply a "shvitz".
Sweat lodges are most commonly associated with Native America – and indeed a large proportion of the ones found in the USA and Europe follow this lineage – however, ritual sweats have been part of our lives for thousands of years, with examples found across continents and cultures, from Icelandic saunas to Turkish hammams and Japanese onsens.
In the North American Indian tradition, the lodge is built using willow bark that is placed in the ground in a circular shape and then covered with blankets. The heat inside is generated by hot basalt stones that are placed in the centre and doused with water and medicinal herbs. “The spirits of all of our ancestors are believed to dwell in the stones,” explains Roland Torikian, a Maya healer who runs sweat lodge ceremonies in Kent. “Roused by the heat of the fire, they proceed out of the stone when water is sprinkled on them. Emerging and mingling with the steam they enter the body… driving out everything that inflicts pain. Before the ancestor spirits return to the stone, they impart some of their nature to the body. That is why one feels so well after having been in a temescal.”
Indeed, devotees of sweat lodge ceremonies evangelise about the mental clarity, physical energy and spiritual revitalisation they bring. Serena, a 35-year-old Oscar-winning film producer, has twice attended The Sweat Lodge in Oxfordshire. “I found the whole process very interesting,” she says. “It is cathartic sweating and you're in beautiful countryside with kind, nice people, and the heat definitely sends your mind to a higher place.” Aaron, a 33-year-old music producer and sound healer, attends a ceremony with Healing The Land once a month, on average. “Afterwards I feel energetic, cleansed and detoxed,” he explains. “It creates more space in my mind – like things have been removed. I feel meditative, connected and calm.”
Each ceremony generally involves a maximum of 25 people in the lodge. Participants – who despite rumours suggesting otherwise, tend to be clothed, albeit lightly – enter the structure in a clockwise direction and sit in a circle on the ground. The stones are then brought in and the ‘door’ closed by the leader.
“An atmosphere is created which is often referred to as ‘being in the womb of Mother Earth’,’’ explains The Sweat Lodge Community. “It is a place of safety, giving, sharing, receiving, releasing, cleansing, healing, caring, nurturing and creativity. Done with ceremony and ritual, it becomes a place where we connect with ourselves, each other and Mother Earth. Through this contact we come to a better understanding of our place in the Universe, our relationship to all things.”
A sweat lasts around five hours, with the ceremony divided into four sessions – called rounds – each of which lasts between 20 and 45 minutes. Participants are free to leave at any time, however they are encouraged to remain through discomfort (as opposed to feeling seriously unwell). What helps you remain through the discomfort and intense heat? “Letting go,” says Aaron. “Letting thoughts go, letting concepts go. It’s not really the heat that gets you in the heat; it’s your own heavy thoughts about yourself, your lack of self-belief. But also, if it gets really hot you can just lie down on the floor.” In between rounds everyone may exit the lodge if they want, and ideally there is a freezing cold body (or bucket) of water somewhere nearby.
The ceremonies are used to cleanse, heal, give thanks, celebrate, mourn, seek wisdom and counsel, or elicit visions.‘’I go to reconnect with myself, and with the Earth and nature itself,” Aaron explains. “Because it’s so dark in there and the heat activates your brain a little, you definitely see things. I’ve connected with other places and had visions – the heat brings a lot of focus in, and you can visualise your thoughts.”
For Serena, the sweat lodge completely changed her view of ‘spirituality’. “The people running it were not what I imagined spiritual people to be like – they were sort-of cockney geezers but with names like 'Eagle Flies With Wings' – so it challenged my perceptions,” she explains. “You have to fully engage with it, though,” she says, “at times it felt a bit farcical, as if it were rife for a BBC3 comedy.”
Indeed, it’s pretty easy to make fun of the growing interest in sweat lodges, much as it is ayahuasca, the tech billionaire’s drug of choice. However, if the events of the past year or so have shown us anything, it’s that the world we live in is seriously screwed up. And as far as I can tell, doing anything that helps individuals connect with both themselves and others is a good thing.
If – and it’s a big if – it’s done right.
In 2009, three people died and 18 were hospitalised after attending a ceremony in Arizona held by the self-help author and self-styled guru James Arthur Ray. The reports from the survivors are harrowing. Ray, a ‘plastic shaman’ with no official training, allegedly refused to let anyone leave the lodge (which was itself both built incorrectly and severely overcrowded) even when they begged, and began to vomit and pass out.
This event, however, was a relative anomaly, and a ceremony conducted under safe conditions should pose no serious risks for most people. Any state in which the body is tested to extreme limits has its dangers, so an experienced leader (with an apprenticeship of four to eight years) is paramount. They must fully understand not only the spiritual significance of the tradition, but also the physical and mental safety protocols.
Thinking of trying it? Simply heed with caution. If you’re pregnant or have a pre-existing health condition (such as high blood pressure or epilepsy), then give it a miss altogether. Otherwise be sure to do your research, and find a trusted ceremony with an experienced leader with whom you feel comfortable. Remember that we all respond differently to heat at different times in our lives, so listen carefully to your body. And finally, be prepared to hate it, like 25-year-old chef Tom. “You couldn’t pay me to go back,” he says. “Ever again.”
Original feature on Refinery29UK.
The thing about yoga on Instagram is that – much like everything else on social media – it doesn’t quite reflect reality. I'd hazard a guess that 98% of the #yoga images you see are of a thin, white (but tanned), naturally flexible, 20-something girl in a bikini, on a beach, doing some variation of an arm balance or inversion.
Which is totally fine for what it is (and I really love some of those pictures) but that kind of yoga-for-show isn’t all that yoga is about.
Full disclosure: I currently live on a beach, where I practise and teach yoga, and I fit into all the categories above (minus the age, shhh). But I don’t often share that kind of image, because I don’t think it makes anyone feel better about their own yoga practice, or self. Maybe someone looks at it and is inspired to try a particular pose. Maybe. Gain from it personally by all means, but let the primary motive – or genuine intention – be outside of yourself.
Which is where the 2% of #instayoga that I like comes in. The people who aren’t trying to show off about their own skill level but rather focus on teaching, guiding, or making their audience feel more human and less alone. The people who promote body positive yoga (#BoPoYoga). Firm fact: We don’t see enough different body types or ethnic backgrounds in yoga studios, advertisements, or online. Anything that helps challenge that status quo is very welcome in my feed.
Recently, a strain of accounts and hashtags combining these two things I like has caught my eye.
33-year-old Melissa Latimer was 15 when doctors told her she had synovial cell sarcoma, an extremely rare and fatal form of soft tissue cancer. Just two days later, the lower portion of her right leg was removed.
A natural athlete, Melissa quickly recovered physically and – remarkably – was back to playing basketball with her high school team within six months. Her mental and emotional recovery, however, took longer. “I would get looks of 'Sorry' or be made fun of, a lot," she said. "People, myself included, just didn't know how to respond to an amputee. I really let the stigmas of society affect me.” Every challenge thrown at her was met full on, however, “I lived a life where I was almost scared of being open with being an amputee.”
That was until 10 months ago, when she discovered yoga. “Now I'm the complete opposite,” she says, “I’m proud of who I am and not afraid to show my body. It completely changed my life. Physically, I'm much stronger, and have learnt so much about working with my prosthesis, rather than just living with it. But emotionally and mentally it has had an even greater impact.”
Marsha Therese Danzig, M.Ed, founder of Yoga for Amputees and author of From The Roots, lost the lower portion of her left leg in 1976 to Ewing sarcoma (a cancerous tumour). For almost two decades she has been teaching and training others in yoga, and believes that it “offers amputees a way back home to their essential wholeness”. Physical benefits – increased strength, stability, balance, stamina – aside, the more spiritual elements of yoga (meditation, mantra, breathing, relaxation) are, Marsha explains, "medicine for the soul for amputees' grief over limb loss, identity changes (body image and sexuality), pain and mental fatigue, and drastic changes in lifestyle.”
28-year-old Kat Hawkins lost both her legs below the knee when she contracted meningitis during university in 2008. Four years ago, she began practising yoga in her room at home. “It helped immeasurably with my balance and walking – more than any other form of physio or exercise I tried,” she says, “but it also really helped with processing emotions and what's going on in my life.” After experiencing the holistic benefits of yoga first hand, Kat started an Instagram account – @amputeekat – using the hashtag #amputeeyoga. “I wanted to connect with other amputees and give them some advice and confidence to try yoga,” she explains. “I wish Instagram had existed in the way it does now when I lost my legs. I craved physically active young female role models to look up to, and the chance to talk to them directly would have really helped me come to terms with what had happened.”
Kelsey Koch, 24, who has been an amputee for most of her life, first tried yoga a little over a year ago, after receiving an ‘active’ leg. “Yoga undoubtedly changed my life,” she says. “I have found my passion, and am able to share the importance of the practice with so many individuals. Even as teachers, we are still students and are constantly learning every day. This practice has given me such self-acceptance as an amputee.” Melissa echoes this sentiment: “It's helped me so much, and every day I gain more confidence. My love for myself since starting has increased significantly, and will continue to grow – that excites me the most!”
As anyone who has tried yoga knows, it feels different from regular gym exercise. Physically, you stretch and strengthen rarely used muscles, and get into the fascia (that sheet of connective tissue that stabilises our muscles and organs). But mentally and emotionally you also stretch and strengthen some rarely used parts. Yoga works on calming the nervous system and the thoughts, to bring the body and mind – and soul, if you believe in that – into one (the word 'yoga' means union in Sanskrit). And developing a physical yoga practice very often goes a long way to show you just how much you’re capable of in other areas of your life.
This last point is something all the women focus on. “Part of the reason I post my life on Instagram is to try and inspire other amputees,” says Kelsey. “I want every individual, able or disabled, to know that they can do whatever they set their mind to. My hope is that my journey could give another amputee strength and motivation to be whoever they want to be.” “Putting myself 'out there' on Instagram wasn't easy for me,” says Melissa. “It took a lot. But one thing that I'm passionate about and feel that I'm here to do, is help other amputees to feel confident – to show them that loss of a limb doesn't need to mean loss of life. And nowadays the best way to show that is social media.” Both women are bringing their yoga gospel to real life: Kelsey recently completed her yoga teacher training and opened her own yoga studio, Serenity Yoga, in her hometown of Grand Blanc, Michigan, and Melissa is currently training as a teacher with her local yoga school.
Online, the response has been overwhelmingly positive – and the number of amputees turning to yoga and putting their practice on Instagram is growing – but all the women expressed some reservation about sharing their lives. “I sometimes get a bit nervous posting,” says Kat, “I want conversations to happen about the human body, what it is and what it's capable of, and what we think of as 'beautiful', but sometimes that invites unwanted attention from people. A lot of people who are attracted to amputees think it's ok to bombard me with sexual comments.”
Internet creeps aside, Kelsey, Kat and Melissa all agree that there is now less stigma and more awareness around amputees. However, Kat says, “I think there is so much more that can be done to give coverage to amputees, especially women. A lot of what you read or see is what we like to call ‘inspiration porn’ in the style of ‘look at this amazing woman’, even though you've just left the house to go to the shops and you're knackered and hungover and your dress is tucked into your pants!” This Daily Mail-esque approach shows how far we still have to go to end our proclivity to draw a line between ourselves and those we perceive as ‘other’.
However you look at it, though, these accounts and the pictures on them are inspirational. These women aren't just putting up pictures of themselves looking absolutely amazing (which they do, btw), they’re doing it to help others. Which really makes a yogi.
Original feature on Refinery29UK
As the world’s largest social image-sharing platform, Instagram faces constant scrutiny for its part in perpetuating the media myth of a ‘perfect’ body. Spend a few minutes flicking through the millions of images hashtagged #fitspiration, #bodytransformation and #beforeandafter, and you could soon be convinced that, if you just lost a few pounds, gained a #thighgap and some #abs, you too would be 'happy'.
Of course, we all know this is bullshit. Being thin doesn’t make you happy any more than being tall does. Your size doesn’t dictate your happiness, it's your relationship with yourself – with your body and your mind – that determines whether you wake up smiling, or in tears.
And no one appreciates that more acutely than an eating disorder (ED) survivor. An eating disorder – I write from past personal experience – is a form of living hell. It’s a bit like being trapped in a box with all your biggest fears, all the time. It’s exhausting and life-destroying, and I have immeasurable respect for anyone who has managed to beat one; and the deepest admiration for anyone taking on the difficult task of trying to help others do the same.
Which leads us to the sub-section of Instagram users conducting an Insta-revolution, fighting to turn society's deeply unhealthy – and dangerous – obsession with weight loss on its head. Whether fully recovered, or in the difficult process of doing so, a group of inspirational women are using the social media platform to show that gaining weight is no bad thing. In fact, it can be lifesaving.
The BoPo (Body Positive) Instagram community was created to rival the pro-anorexia and ‘perfect body’ accounts. The women of this community use encouraging hashtags such as #realrecovery, #embracethesquish, #selflovebootcamp and #gainingweightiscool alongside unedited, uncensored images of their bodies and honest, moving descriptions of their mental struggles.
Gina (@nourishandeat) is 30 and lives in Detroit. Consumed by anorexia nervosa for three years – during which time she would eat fewer than 600 calories a day and spend hours at the gym – she now uses Instagram to communicate to her 90k followers that getting better is a real and tangible option. Turning the ubiquitous ‘before and after’ images you see on so many fitness and weight loss accounts on their heads, Gina posts images of herself in the grips of the deadly disease side-by-side with ones of her today – radiant, healthy and happy.
Megan Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) – who has nearly 500k followers – suffered with eating disorders for much of her life, with multiple in-patient stints in hospitals and psychiatric units. Two years ago she discovered the BoPo movement online. “It changed everything,” she told me. “I saw all these women of different shapes and sizes unapologetically loving themselves, and I realised for the first time that maybe I could do that, too. Maybe I didn't have to starve and hate myself forever. That's when I truly recovered, healed my relationship with food and with my body, and starting living.”
This sentiment is echoed by Milly (@selfloveclubb) and Dani (@chooselifewarrior), who explain they first began using Instagram to access pro-anorexia content and compare themselves unfavourably to others, but soon discovered pro-recovery accounts and the BoPo movement. “I started to see the beautiful side of social media and how it could be used for great things. I’d say it’s played a huge part in my recovery”, says Milly, who is now taking that same message to her 28k followers.
As a society we’re typically not used to seeing cellulite, stretch marks, rolls of fat or anything less than near-'perfection' on our media platforms and, because of this, all the women I spoke to were scared, nervous and hesitant when they first began to post honest, unedited pictures of their bodies online. “I remember literally sweating and shaking when I posted the first picture of my body without retouching or starving myself for months beforehand”, Megan tells me. While the response is, for the most part, overwhelmingly supportive, Instagram is a public platform – they are vulnerable and the trolls do come. “Some days are harder than others,” says Kenzie (@omgkenzieee), a 27-year-old actress, writer and ED survivor from Toronto, “but I understand the importance of continuing to be vulnerable, continuing to push the boundaries.” Megan concurs: “If seeing my belly rolls and cellulite can help someone else feel better about their body then bring it on. If my story helps them feel less alone, then I'm so grateful to be able to share it.”
The strong sense of community among these women and their followers is incredible. Between them, Milly, Dani, Gina, Kenzie and Megan receive thousands and thousands of messages and comments from people struggling with similar issues. “There’s strength in numbers, and when you find out you’re not alone in your struggles it lifts a bit of the pressure and unites you with like-minded people”, says Milly. “There is so much power in the words, ‘me too’”, says Gina.
An eating disorder is a lonely, isolating illness and the solace and support these accounts offer cannot be understated. “Community plays a huge role in recovery,” a spokesperson from the eating disorder charity Beat explains. “Someone with an eating disorder is far more likely to recover if they have people who can help and encourage them during treatment." Susie Orbach, leading psychotherapist, eating disorder specialist and author of the seminal book Fat is a Feminist Issue agrees: “A community which challenges body hatred is really important, they can really help each other”, she says. There’s an accountability within an eating disorder recovery community that keeps many sufferers from returning to their former illness. They want to stay strong for themselves, and also for their friends.
The causes of eating disorders are as varied and complex as their manifestations, however, the consensus among the survivors I spoke with was that the pressure of our visual culture doesn’t help. “Because we see literally millions of images that have been enhanced, we see a picture of humanity that overwhelms who we are”, agrees Orbach. And although things are changing, "who we are" remains predominantly white-skinned, tall and thin.
“We live in a culture that praises thinness above all else,” says Megan. “That culture isn't entirely to blame for the ever-rising numbers of eating disorders, but it is playing a massive role, and it definitely played a part in my own body image issues.” Orbach is adamant that social media is exacerbating eating disorders, and adds that – tragically and disturbingly - she sees more people affected by eating disorders now than ever before.
The fact is, what you see and what you’re exposed to in your day-to-day life makes a difference. We know that there should be more diversity in our media. We know that we are not even remotely adequately reflecting our society. The question is, where do we go from here? How do we effect the change we wish to see?
One social media account at a time, according to these women. “Social media is truly changing things,” says Dani, “we don't have to wait to see someone like us on TV or in a magazine; on social media you can curate your own safe space in which you see what you want to see”. Megan agrees: “Social media enables us to surround ourselves with diversity,” she explains, “which is why it's so important that we curate our social media feeds to include all different kinds of beauty. For decades, mainstream media has given us the same unattainable, photoshopped image of beauty to aspire to, in order to convince us that we're flawed and sell us the solution. It's time we all stopped buying into it.”
If you’re affected by any of the issues in this piece, Beat provides confidential support and advice. Please visit www.b-eat.co.uk
Original feature on Refinery29UK.
Some of my yoga or body image related writings