Note: nudity below; NSFW.
Jessamyn Stanley is fed up.
After going viral for her inspiring — and inclusive — Instagram account, the 28-year-old yogi is now baring it all for a beautiful nude calendar. She's also calling out the body-positive community for garnering attention for the wrong reasons. In a recent Instagram post, Stanley explained her issues with the community that she's become so visible in.
"I have a big problem with the conversation about body positivity on social media," she wrote. "From where I'm sitting, the conversation has become very diluted and saccharine sweet."She expounded on her issues in an email to Revelist.
Stanley said that the body-positive movement is "limited by an obsession with receiving positive affirmations via physical appearance."
In her Instagram caption, Stanley said a lot of body-positive brands are simply using the label to make money and gain influence:
[The body-positive movement has] devolved into a mess of brands claiming to be 'body positive' by appropriating the stories + bodies of visible fat people; cis femmes with low self-esteem who allow their 'likes' and 'followers' to take the place of self-love; and various other people who are uninterested in the actual message of body positivity and want to use the force of the movement as a mechanism for making money and gaining prestige.
Stanley believes this limitation takes away from what the movement should be working toward.
"It's really simple for the theme of body positivity to be co-opted by people who don't actually care about the movement's large-scale goals, like eliminating schoolyard- and cyber-bullying, etc.," she told Revelist.
Visibility matters a lot to Stanley, but using that visibility to achieve movement goals is what the acclaimed yogi is all about. That's why her presence in yoga matters so much.
She began practicing yoga in her early 20s during a strong bout with depression.
"One of my classmates encouraged me to join her at our local Bikram Yoga studio, and though I was highly 'anti-yoga' in the beginning, she eventually wore down my defenses and I grew to love both Bikram and other styles of yoga," she said. Now, she's preparing to release her book, "Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body," which explores how yoga made her stronger.
It also shows why yoga has what Stanley described as a visibility problem.
"Western media sells yoga the same way it sells literally everything else — by making it a glamorous lifestyle choice for slender, wealthy, white women," she told Revelist. "All my yoga practice does is show that the media's narrative is short-sighted and inaccurate."
This short-sighted view also applies to the body-positive community, according to Stanley.
That's why she encourages prominent members of the body-positive community to take a step back and evaluate.
"I think the most
worthwhile thing other 'body positive' people can do is to step back and
evaluate the energy they're putting into the movement," she said. "Is it worthwhile? Or is
it a thinly veiled attempt at garnering attention?"
She's heeding her own advice, as she explained on Instagram.
"I'm a huge part of the problem. And as a result, I have internal conflict," she wrote on Instagram. "My response is to heave a sigh and take a step back. Way back. Thank god for yoga, honestly. It might sound like bullshit, but my yoga practice is essentially the only way I'm able to stomach any of this nonsense."
Body positivity, like all movements, has room for improvement — and calling out the BS will move the needle in the right direction.
Well done, Jessamyn!