Jessamyn Stanley is a pretty big deal when it comes to the body-positive community. The internationally recognized yoga teacher, author, and award-winning Instagram star is at it once again, as a photo of Jessamyn Stanley doing yoga topless has made internet waves for its beautiful and brave show of vulnerability and self-love. Stanley shared on Instagram a post of herself in only her "granny panties," as she called them, with her body gracefully bent backward in a "wild thing" yoga pose, her naked breasts bathed in sunlight and pointing up toward the sky.
Stanley explained in her post that sharing this image of herself was something both authentic and important for her, partially because of body shame she still personally contends with from time to time. Specifically, she said she still struggles with feeling confident about her breasts:
I still get shy when I'm naked in front of mirrors- I tend to hold my body at random angles so I don't have to look at it full-on. It's a terrible habit but it's a telltale symptom of my body shaming addiction.
I'm especially judgmental of my breasts. They've always been saggy and I've battled shame over them since forever. I mean, the media always makes tits look so pert and sh*t.
Aside from being inspirational in its vulnerability, Stanley's body-positive post is also timely, as it is currently Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Stanley recognizes that, not only are her breasts rad and gorgeous just as they are, but they're also healthy, and she knows this is a gift not to be taken lightly. In her Instagram post, the yogi got real about the possibility that this may not always be the case:
I mean, the odds seem to be pretty f***ing high that something could definitely happen to them and/or the rest of my physical body...
I like to think that my t*ts and I will be together until I say so but bitch, please- I ain't in charge of that. The odds might not be in my favor.
So I'm going to love these droopy sacks as much as I can right now, do my best to check 'em regularly and try to stop thinking sh*tty thoughts bc good grief- life is short and I don't need to waste mine by hating a body that's more than a gift to me.
When I had the opportunity and pleasure to sit down with Jessamyn Stanley a few weeks ago for an interview, she shared similar tidbits of wisdom about how and why she challenges so many of the unrealistic body standards we're bombarded with, both on and off the yoga mat. She explained how she believes these cultural expectations often have a majorly negative impact on how people relate to their bodies, as well as how they feel about and take care of themselves.
She told Elite Daily in that interview,
A lot of times in yoga spaces, there are these ideas like, 'You're not small enough; you don't have the right clothes; you don't have the right mat; you're making a sound other people don't think is appropriate.'
I feel like the most inclusive environments — and what I'm always trying to cultivate in my yoga classes — [are the ones] where people can be themselves.
For Stanley, the name of the game is to do everything she can to cultivate those inclusive spaces, both ideologically on Instagram, and IRL in her yoga classes.
The yogi told Elite Daily,
That has nothing to do with having one specific kind of body, like I want for all curvy people [to be comfortable], I want for all black people, I want for all queer people. I want for anyone to feel comfortable.
The most intimate parts of yoga can be embarrassing or vulnerable; maybe you're crying or you're farting... To me it's important to have those experiences and verbalize them, too, to let other people know it's OK to have them.
We do live in a kind of 'call and response' society, where people feel like if they see another person do it, it's OK to do it themselves.
And that goes for self-acceptance, too, she said. If people see her accepting herself — and, for example, her breasts — it gives others a kind of permission to adopt that positive mindset for themselves.
I don't know about you guys, but I will not be wearing a shirt when I do my yoga practice today. Care to join?