I grew up in Orange County, California where a size zero is considered the norm. If you are larger than a size 4 then basically you are slightly overweight. Every time my friends asked me to go to the beach in high school I came up with every excuse in the book. You see, I was deeply insecure about my body. I looked at myself in the mirror with so much self loathing and was constantly trying fad diets.
After college my body weight would swing back and forth like a pendulum. There were times I was scary skinny and I secretly loved it when people would tell me I was too thin. There were even more times where I would gain weight to the point where I could barely fit in my clothes but would rather suffer in silence than buy bigger clothes.
I’d say that for most of my life I have oscillating up and down the scale by 30 pounds. Even this year, I struggled with the scale. In February, after I returned from yoga instructor training I weighed 115 pounds and wore a size two. I was so happy. Then after a family tragedy in March I ate myself into oblivion to cope with the sadness in my heart. By October, I had put on about 30 pounds and I was miserable.
Then I left for the Ashram. When I got there I got so many compliments about my figure. You see in India being skinny is not attractive and my extra body weight actually made me more visually appealing to the Indians. It was shocking. Also, I did not have any access to full length mirrors. This fact really helped me stop focusing on my weight so I could direct my attention inward and heal my long held beliefs that my worth was determined by my body’s size. It was an incredible healing experience.
Also, the clothes worn in the Ashram are very modest. Back home we very tiny little dresses that are very unforgiving. You can see every little flaw and I would obsess about them. I can’t tell you how many times I have cancelled plans with friends because I could not find something to wear that I felt attractive in. It is so sad that I missed out on so many fun activities because of my insecurities.
I am not saying I have been cured of all my body issues but I am definitely on the road to recovery. I have given up the idea that being a yoga instructor means I have to be scrawny. As long as I am fit and healthy, I am exactly where I need to be.