Body Positivism and Jessamyn Stanley

by: Shenandoah LaRock

Like any star, Jessamyn Stanley wasn’t expecting to be famous. She has a podcast ( Listener) a blog ( and she’s the author of Everybody Yoga. Jessamyn is currently a yoga teacher and a self-proclaimed “Fat Femme”. She is probably most known for her Instagram profile mynameisjessamyn where she posts photos and videos of her at-home yoga practices.  She wasn’t always into yoga though.

Jessamyn was introduced to yoga at age 16 when she attended one of her aunt’s Bikram yoga classes. For those that don’t know, Bikram yoga is a series of 26 postures performed in a very hot room (95-105°). The experience was, to quote Jessamyn, “HELL. ON. EARTH.” She thought she would never step foot into a hot, sweaty room again.  Several years later, when she was in grad school, Jessamyn’s friends encouraged her to buy a monthly unlimited pass to their local Bikram studio. The experience was different this time around.

“Even though my first few classes were extremely intense (i.e.-inconsistent breathing, drinking excessive water, premature exhaustion) …Unlike other physical activities, yoga awakened my spiritual curiosity even when I was pressed against the boundary of physical exhaustion.”

She became determined to practice yoga daily. Yoga classes can be expensive, ranging between $8.00-$25 per adult depending on the type of class and the instructor. Jessamyn established a work-study program at the local bikram studio in exchange for free classes. However, after Jessamyn moved to Durham, North Carolina, she couldn’t afford to pay the rates for Bikram classes. This didn’t stop her from practicing the 26 poses at home on her own time. She eventually discovered high energy vinyasa. High energy vinyasa is a type of yoga where each posture flows into another pose, which is more relaxed and free flowing, versus Bikram yoga where the body is focused on the same 26 postures.

Jessamyn documented her practice by posting photos/videos on Instagram and quickly became insta famous. Jessamyn has caught the attention of many simply because she is a self-proclaimed “fat femme”. There are plenty of unrealistically ‘thin’/‘fit’ body images in social media, especially when it comes to yoga.  Jessamyn focuses on practices that emphasize “how do I feel?” versus “What do I look like?” When people see larger bodies they tend to automatically label them as ‘unhealthy’ and assume that they don’t eat right or that they don’t exercise enough, which isn’t always the case.

“Quite frankly, the health eating world is EXTREMELY body negative, even though many of us fatpos & bodypos people tend to work towards/live healthy lifestyles…And yeah I know I’ll probably fall off the wagon at some point. But I’m not focused on that, I’m just going to stay in the moment and drink my f*cking juice.”


There are many different factors that determine someone’s body size, and all of those factors aren’t anybody’s business but their own. So go out and live your fullest life, no matter what your body type!