Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why "fat?"

I'm Grace, the Fat Yogini, and I welcome you to my new cyber-home.

The name of a blog is very important, so why did I choose such a polarized and loaded adjective as "fat" to describe myself and brand my blog? Because, well, a little fat isn't a bad thing! In the West, we have been trained through our socialization to recoil from "fat," to be repulsed by even a few extra pounds and associate it with laziness, gluttony, and any number of other moral failings. The cultural fixation on thinness (not to be confused with healthiness) promotes the idea that there is but one paragon of physical perfection, and it doesn't involve any extra padding. Instinctively, we all know that every person has a different body, with a different metabolism, different needs, and different physical manifestations of "healthy," yet that doesn't stop us from buying into the idea that we should be thin, no matter the cost. We can see the psychological repercussions of this toxic social pressure in the epidemic of eating disorders, rates of cosmetic surgery, and the fact that the sale of anti-aging products and diet "tools" are a multi-billion dollar industry.

BUT WHY?! Fat isn't bad. We need fat to survive and to procreate. BMI is an antiquated arbitrary calculation that has been proven an inadequate measurement of health, seeing as it does not take into account bone or muscle mass. What is important is not some arbitrary ratio or pant size, but instead eating to live at the ideal size for YOUR body, not someone else's standard.

What is shocking to me is that this unhealthy obsession with healthy-equals-bone-thin is leaching into the American yoga industry. Yoga is being advertised more and more as this awesome "new" weight-loss trick, the magic bullet for fitness and the fountain of eternal youth. The popularity of Bikram Yoga, despite embodying a philosophy wholly antithetical to yoga's purpose, only highlights the industry's wholesale embrace of thin and "pure" by any means necessary. Is it that the wider American audience is not interested in a yoga that is meditative and welcoming to people of all sizes or is it that we just don't know what to do with a physical pursuit that isn't thin-driven? (I don't have the answer to that, but please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments section.)

Full disclosure: I am a yoga instructor and I have been practicing various types of yoga for almost 13 years. I am technically overweight (say it with me now, screw you, BMI!). When I am at my healthiest, which means nurturing my own yoga practice, teaching yoga and/or working out moderately 5 days a week, practicing poi, running after my nephew, and eating a low-fat, vegan diet, I am consistently 5-15 pounds "overweight." I'm not going to lie and say that I'm entirely okay with my naturally stocky build, trying to thrive in an industry chock full of naturally lithe and beautiful women, but really, what the heck am I going to do about it? I can't change my body type. I can't change my passion for yoga and my desire to help people. I can only work to be the healthiest, most energetic version of me possible and to help others do the same. This is what this blog is about: to promote, in the spirit of the yogic philosophy of non-harming, an embrace and a love of our bodies at all stages, working towards a goal of health that is not wrapped up in how thin we become. We are here to be strongest, healthiest version of ourselves, mentally, physically and spiritually, and yoga is an invaluable tool in that pursuit. Thanks for reading and I hope you stay.

Be well.


  1. Looks like an excellent start! I hope you'll note new posts via Twitter, as I am notorious for forgetting to read stuff I want to check daily! (also, you can do this automagically with twitterfeed).

    Looking forward to more! :)

  2. well said and I enjoyed reading the first post. thx 4 sharing!


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