Jessamyn Stanley describes herself as a fat, black, queer femme. The best part: She couldn’t care less about what you or anyone else thinks. #Winning.
Despite the trolls, this yoga instructor-turned-author is “Gucci” (read: Life is good), with a new book, Every Body Yoga; a book tour; and a mammoth social media following. Stanley oozes confidence, a key ingredient when you’re working in a predominantly white space like yoga.
“I’ve been ostracized for most of my life. But to be so readily accepted into the white community is wild to me,” Stanley says. “I don’t want to be a minstrel show. I don’t want to be their Negro.”
Being black in the majority-white yoga community is something Stanley is constantly aware of. She is often the token black person in yoga class (which she says has been true of many spaces that she has existed in), and it’s something she has become pretty desensitized to.
So how does Stanley maintain her sanity? By remembering that she is carrying the burden of all the people who have come before her, including her paternal grandmother, who is illiterate. “Like, she cannot read,” Stanley says.
In her book, Stanley talks about her journey into yoga (her first yoga class was horrible) and goes on to preach the gospel of body positivity and self-love. After all, who can love you more than you can love yourself?
“Every Body Yoga is meant for every single person who has not seen themselves in the yoga world,” Stanley says. “And this book is meant to show you that you have it. Everything that you need. Right now.”
Watch Stanley talk about her journey in the above video.