A few days ago, a woman around my age said to me: "You don't look like a yoga teacher." It broke my heart.
My first thoughts were: 1) WTF!? and 2) Great, another place I don't fit in. I didn't press the woman to expand on her words, because I didn't really want to know.
I know everyone says this (and now I'm saying this), but I've never really fit in anywhere. Ok, that's not completely true. My feminism makes me feel like I belong, though, there definitely have been times where I thought, "I'm not oppressed enough" (I've gotten beyond that, however).
I've never looked like anyone else--and I don't say that in a bratty, "I'm-so-unique-and-special" way.
When I was younger, I used to tell my parents that God left me on the backburner when he was creating me, and that he mistakenly threw in characteristics from various ethnicities to form me. My nose has always been large—but not “Italian-large”; my nose is too wide to be Italian. The dark, chocolate orbs that make up my eyes are considered Italian, but my small lips seem more Anglo. Are my curves due to my ingestion of processed American foods, or are my curves mountains that my ancestors have trekked? To me, I thought I looked like a Pablo Picasso painting—but not necessarily in a good way.
I still sometimes find myself wishing for the pale-skinned waif, Vata-type body with flowing long, straight hair. I have none of these qualities. Is this what the woman meant when she said I didn't look like a yoga instructor? I can only guess.
I feel sorry for her--or maybe happy, too. Hear me out. Sorry, because she obviously didn't realize that yoga instructors don't all look the same, and happy, because she got to meet me, whom, to her, deviates from the norm. I struggle with how I feel about this. I don't want to be a deviation from the norm. My whole life has been about "fitting in." At the same time, I also don't want to be like everyone else. It's a constant fight in my head--fitting in/standing out. Luckily, for me, I can't act fake, so I pretty much always am just... me. The levels of fitting in/standing out may be adjusted due to where I am and who I'm with (i.e. if I'm with my best friend, who is also a feminist and yoga instructor, more "me" shines through). We all act a tad differently depending on our location and the company we are with at the time. This being said, I have always been an honest, some would say "brash", person. I can't easily hide my feelings. My best and worst trait is probably that people will always know how I'm feeling about something.
When I was a child, people often, mistakenly, thought I was "shy." I was never shy, I was quiet--there's a difference. I have always been half extrovert, half introvert. The extrovert in me comes out when I feel safe with people--when I feel like I can be my truest self without judgment. I'm grateful that, these days, there seem to be more instances where I am allowed to show my truest self--no apologies.
So, though I may still wish (from time-to-time) to drastically alter my appearance--and turn into a stereotypical Yoga Goddess, I'm glad that I'm me and that I look like me.
And here is where these two identities of mine cross: I never looked like a feminist, either, apparently.