Hey everybody. Jen Hatmaker here. Welcome to the show, you guys, we are back for another episode in our for the Love of Being Seen and Heard series, and I am loving it, just loving it. Every single episode to me has been fire. We’re basically hearing from women who are simply paving the way for us in a million spaces. They’re bringing things to light that maybe are not the popular or privileged ways in which to think, or they’re giving us permission to claim our space in the world without shame and hesitation. They’re advocates, they’re leading the charge in all kinds of areas, normalizing mental health issues, giving us permission to live out our grief, showing a path forward in the face of racism or gender bias. Advocating for people. Just incredible, incredible women in this series. I’m so in awe of them and I’m learning from them and I’m proud of their work. And I want you to know who they are.
So our guest this week couldn’t come at a better time for me. I mean that, I really mean that. Like the area in which she works, I would say, if I’m just being honest, is probably the area that just personally in the privacy of my own brain, takes up the most real estate–the most negative real estate, I should say. I know, because this is a conversation that we host in our community frequently, that a ton of you feel the exact same way. First of all, we have been groomed to feel that way. We have been conditioned to feel this way, and it’s gonna take concerted effort to push back against it.
One of the things I mentioned recently, if you follow me on socials, is that there are some things I wanted this summer intentionally to do more of and less of. I wanted to treat summer with intention. So one of the things that I wanted to do more of is just move my body, like in any way that I like to, not in the old yucky way. I can feel it physically. I have not really moved this entire calendar year. And so I’m achy and I’m stiff, I have no flexibility.
But really for me, the biggest thing is that I can just feel this stress and anxiety that has just built up in my body, from life. And I’ve given it nowhere to go. So I’ve just metabolized it and I know it, I feel it internally. So movement is a processing tool for me. I’ve been doing Pilates and I can talk about that later. But I tell myself regularly in the middle of a class, this is good for your mind. ‘Cause even if I’m struggling with a pose or with a movement, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting this exactly right. This is good for your mind.
Additionally, one of the things I want to do less of is obsess about bad body stuff. You know what I mean when I say bad body stuff—like the mean voice in our head, this exhausting mental energy spent on sizes and scales and self-hatred and ugh, it’s so exhausting. It’s so exhausting and I just wanna be free of it. I’ve never been free of it. That’s a fact. Never. I don’t feel like I could tell you a stretch of time in my whole adult life that I have felt free here. I know that a lot of us haven’t. So when I tell you that our guest could not be visiting us at a better time, I mean it personally, like I hope this is useful for you, but for me it’s incredibly useful.
So she is the queen when it comes not only to moving in a healthy way, (by the way, her bio and Insta says, she’s the Beyonce of yoga), but she is entirely about kicking the bad body stuff completely out of the conversation.
She started teaching yoga on Instagram back in 2012 because, well, I’m not gonna steal her thunder ‘cause she walks us into that, but she didn’t see anybody who looked like her–teaching yoga–who had a body like hers, who was black like her, who was queer like her. She has become this powerful voice really for wellness and body acceptance. This is her work in the world.This self-love, no matter our size or shape. Today we have Jessamyn Stanley. You guys are going to love Jess by the way. All of our episodes we always obviously have in an audio feature, but we video all of our interviews. It’s over on my YouTube channel, so if you ever wanna watch a conversation, this is one that I recommend watching.
So you can see Jess talk about her work. I mean, of course that’s how I experience all of our shows and I think it’s premier. So if you just feel like watching them hop over. Jess co-founded The Underbelly, which is this really unique and highly inclusive digital wellness experience. It features a lot of stuff including yoga classes that she teaches. Her first book was called Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat. Love Your Body. If that isn’t indicative of her personality energy, I don’t know what is. Her second book is called Yoke: My Yoga of Self Acceptance and she talks a little bit about both and it’s just this honest, very funny book based on stories from her life and she tackles imposter syndrome and the American yoga industry, which she says prefers to debate the merits of cotton versus poly blend leggings over owning up to how non-inclusive it is.
She’s just really vulnerable about her own ever-evolving path to self-acceptance. I walked away from this conversation feeling–I don’t know if this is gonna translate, you’ll have to just listen to it to see what I mean–but just kind of settled. I just felt a little bit settled. I felt like I kind of exhaled a little bit. She has this way of being in the world–it was really calming and hopeful. Jess just reminds us that if we love ourselves first, then we’re able to love one another. It’s a beautiful conversation and I think you’re gonna love her and I’m excited to introduce this community to her work, which I hope you will immediately onboard to as soon as you finish this episode. So without any further ado, welcome the vibrant and honest and inspiring Jessamyn Stanley.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Leslie Kinzel – Body acceptance writer
Maryanne Kirby – Body acceptance writer
Nicolette Mason – Fat fashion blogger
Dianne Bondi – Yoga practitioner