One of our favorite voices in the yoga world, Jessamyn Stanley, has a brand new book coming out. It’s called Every Body Yoga and you can pre-order it right now. Jessamyn is a self-proclaimed fat femme who inspires people all over the world with her body positive messages and her organic sense of humor. She’s living proof that any person and any body can do yoga, regardless of what the world may tell you about your abilities.
She also opens up about her experiences growing up in the suburbs of North Carolina, where the majority of the people around her were white. In a candid Instagram post, Jessamyn writes about the difficult task of “understanding my blackness” as she grew up in a racist environment.
At a young age Jessamyn was given the nickname “oreo,” presumably because she looked black but acted in a way that people labeled as “white,” and that’s where the struggle to understand her own identity began. “It wasn’t until I grew up a little that I began to understand the self-hate that came as a byproduct of being labeled an ‘oreo’ from a young age,” Jessamyn writes. “That self-hate didn’t end during my childhood- it mutated, festered, and became a huge part of my identity.”
How heartbreaking to hear, but unfortunately there are thousands of youth in our country who wrestle with their racial identity on a daily basis. Jessamyn hopes that by sharing her own story she can inspire others to open up as well.
But Jessamyn didn’t let that suffering take over her life. “Dealing with that self-hate is what’s cemented my yoga practice,” she says. “Ultimately, the fuckery of my life is what keeps me showing up on my mat.”
Jessamyn has always been the kind of yoga teacher who encourages her students to connect their yoga practice with what they experience off the mat. That’s why yoga is such a powerful practice — it helps you reconcile your greatest struggles in life while also healing your body.
Hopefully Jessamyn’s story will motivate others to share theirs as well, because we all deserve to be heard.