I got my period in fifth grade, and just like that, my breasts were grenades waiting to be set off. I got a set of curves that I had absolutely no idea what to do with. Was it the Italian in me that grew curves? Or was it the American in me—from growing up in a culture of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Lunchables?
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A few days ago, a woman around my age said to me: "You don't look like a yoga teacher." It broke my heart.
Like many women, I have had a love/hate relationship with my body for years. I've written before about having an eating disorder, as well as partaking in disordered eating (the two are somewhat different, in my opinion), and lately I've been noticing some disordered eating habits from my past return, as well as the general violence I inflict upon myself through my negative self-talk. It's all very troubling to me, because I (and others) see myself as this super strong feminist woman. And that's the thing... my feminism is about not giving a shit; not caring what others think; not bowing down to societal mainstream culture that tells me I must be a size 2 to be worthy of love. Thus, I feel like a feminist fraud when I have these feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem. I had the sanskrit word for non-violence, "Ahimsa", tattooed on my forearm to remind me to be kind to others as well as myself. It hurts knowing that I'm generally unkind to myself. I catch myself thinking things like, "If only I could chop off this part of my thighs, or slice off part of my belly, or make my nose smaller..." There is so much violence in these thoughts. The use of words like, "chop" or "slice" when thinking about my own body is abhorrent. It needs to stop. I need to stop.
Though I am not currently teaching yoga at a studio, I read much of the yogic literature I have from both a teacher and student perspective. As some of you may know, I have been reading Forrest Yoga creator, Ana T. Forrest's book, Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices: to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit. There is so much in this book I identify with and love, but yesterday, while reading I came across something Ms. Forrest and I greatly differ on.