There’s been a lot of talk about body image in yoga circles these days, and that’s good.
Now that it’s become more or less mainstream, yoga risks devolving into yet another way for advertisers and marketers to exploit women’s insecurities about their bodies and themselves for profit. But recent discussions about the lack of body diversity, fat shaming and so on are encouraging. There’s so much potential in using yoga to help women feel more empowered, and better about their bodies and themselves. But you probably already knew that.
So recently, when I realized I was just not that interested in the whole yoga-body-image conversation, it struck me as odd. Because I’m not at all a stranger to the conversation – I’m more of a stakeholder. I was bulimic and a compulsive dieter as a teenager and struggled with body image issues well into my adulthood. As a psychologist, I’ve worked with and advocated for women with eating disorders. More than anything else I did or tried, yoga fostered my own (ongoing) recovery in learning to love myself, and my body.
Through the practice of yoga I’ve learned to appreciate my body as a vehicle, a teacher, a laboratory, even a source a bliss – so much more than a means to exert control over my life and emotions by obsessing about my weight or food intake. I rarely have days in which I feel “fat” anymore – which is a far cry from where I was at age 20.
Of course, I’m much older now. So when I come across articles about body image it almost feels nostalgic – as if the struggle is some remnant from my past that I barely relate to anymore. It occurred to me that body shame had become so distant, it’s just not on my radar anymore. Then I got a wake-up call.