Yoga Influencer Jessamyn Stanley is Fighting Fatphobia, One Pose at a Time

· Updated on March 23, 2023

After initially hating yoga as a teenager, Jessamyn Stanley has blossomed into a thriving yoga influencer, and she has done so without compromising her body image to societal standards. But even a year after her “controversial” Cosmopolitan Magazine cover, Jessamyn Stanley continues to draw the ire of bigots—a testament to the ongoing need for her efforts against fatphobia.

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Jessamyn Stanley is an avid yogi who uses her YouTube channel to teach the practice while advocating for body positivity and LGBTQ+ rights. Over time, she has expanded her talents into podcasting, activism, and writing. She hosts the show Dear Jessamyn with her partner Ashe, is founder of cannabis justice project We Go High NC, and has written two books: Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body and Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance.

Her efforts have earned her almost 500,000 followers on Instagram, and as a result, she has made the leap to influencer, bringing representation to sports brands like Gatorade. Last year, she appeared on a Cosmopolitan UK cover next to the words, “This is healthy.” The issue featured 11 women of different sizes sharing what healthy means to them, and unsurprisingly, right-wing trolls seized on this moment of body positivity as yet another battle in their culture war.

The usual suspects came out in force, complaining that a magazine would dare to depict women enjoying their bodies. Piers Morgan ranted about it on his talk show, Donald Trump Jr. ridiculed it on Instagram, and Candace Owens even found a way to throw some transphobia into her take. Well over a year later, the cover continues to be a source of unnecessary controversy, as a video of an Australian woman ranting about skinny health and refusing to even look at the cover recently went viral.

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It’s one of the many reasons that Jessamyn’s advocacy continues to be necessary. “We, as a society, have cosigned on the idea that our bodies are not our own—that they are the property of anyone who has an opinion about them,” she told Bon Appétit in 2021. “We work our whole existences around whether or not someone else is going to like us. Capitalism wants us to look to other people for our validation, to keep us held within the gaze and the perspectives of others. But body liberation is saying that your body is your own, that there’s nothing to seek.”

But at the end of the day, she’s still in it for her own love of yoga. “I realized, once I actually started practicing yoga, that the most intricate and all-consuming yoga doesn’t happen on the mat,” she said. “It happens in every other part of your life.”

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