Naming Your Body is a Sacred Right

People often ask me how I came up with the name Curvy Yoga. And honestly, it was just one of those flashes of inspiration. I was thinking of possibilities, and when it popped in my mind, I instantly knew it was right.

But then, being me, I had to explore a bit further.

What’s in a Name

Curvy resonates with me, and with the many other people who tell me they love it, because it’s both clear and friendly/welcoming. When I was very new on my body acceptance journey, I found it incredibly difficult to name or label my body in any way. No word described how I wanted my body to be, even though many might have described how it actually was.

I wasn’t yet ready to own my body at all — not as curvy, much less as fat. So that’s why I went with Curvy Yoga; I believe it invites people in who otherwise might be hesitant to even put their big toe near the water, no matter what the actual shape/size of their body.

These days, I feel very comfortable calling myself and my body curvy, large, round, big and, yes, even fat. But those have all been a long time coming, especially the latter.

Responses

I’ve recently had some comments on my blog and social media insisting I call myself fat, not curvy. To these people, it’s offensive that someone with a fat body would use the term curvy and not fat. Because as they say, “you’re not curvy, you’re fat.”

So here’s the thing: I do use the term fat to describe my body. However, I get more negative pushback when I do use it, not when I don’t.

Both And

When I use the term fat to describe my body, I hear lots of “You’re not fat! You’re beautiful!” and other variations on that theme.

While I appreciate people trying to give me a compliment, they kind of make my point for me. I’m fat and beautiful. The two are not mutually exclusive, even though our culture certainly tries to convince us they are.

Of course. Of course it does. Because without us believing that, it would be hard to get us to buy, oh, the $20 billion worth of lies the diet industry sells us each year, not to mention the $160 billion the beauty industry sells us.

So yeah, it makes sense that people have a negative connotation in mind when they hear the word fat.

It’s Complicated

And that’s why I don’t use the word fat all the time, and it’s also why I ultimately decided on the name Curvy Yoga. Because naming your own body is rife with complication. When you want your body to change, you’re reluctant (if not downright defensive) about being labeled with something that doesn’t resonate with you.

I think that’s where the “curvy haters” are coming from — most likely a feeling that they themselves don’t feel comfortable being associated with fat bodies, whether or not they are fat themselves, rather than “true” objection at what others call themselves. (And for giggles, I also sometimes like to imagine that they’re just very strict grammarians.)

And I get it. I really, really, really do. It’s uncomfortable and often hurtful to have others describe your body for you — even if just seemingly by proxy.

Sacred Right

Naming your own body in safety is something that has been taken from many of us. Whether through trauma, media expectations, judgments from loved ones, bullying as children (and adults), disordered eating, illness, injury or any other number of things that happen to our bodies over the course of a lifetime, many of our bodies have been subject to others’ labels and definitions.

Taking back the right to name your own body is a key step on the path to body acceptance. It’s a moment of stepping into your own power and saying “This is my curvy, differently abled, older, gorgeous, fat, slim, survivor body.”

Because once a proclamation like that comes from your lips, adding a follow-up of “And I love it” isn’t too far behind.

(Re)claiming your body through language is sacred, and no one has the right to judge, shame or otherwise influence or affect the decision you make. The decision that is right for you in this very moment. The decision to own and empower your own body.

Letting My Curvy Flag Fly

So that’s why I intend to keep on calling myself curvy. And large, beautiful, fat, short, round, lovely, big, and whatever else I want, whenever it feels appropriate for me.

And that’s also why I intend to keep making space for others to do the same. I will never, ever insist on people calling themselves anything because that doesn’t support my vision of body acceptance or how yoga calls you into it. In yoga, we connect with our inner wisdom and move from that place. And you better believe your inner wisdom will have something to say about what feels safe and okay for you to call your body at any given moment.

So go on with your curvy, svelte, round, slender, large, soft, fat, zaftig, curvaceous, voluptuous, trim, big self. You’re all welcome here.

Share The Love
  • http://www.theyearofthephoenix.com/ Jill (Lady Lazarus)

    I’ve always loved curvy and voluptuous :)

    I think one of the other problems with the word “fat” is that often when people use it they aren’t coming from a physical, x amount of pounds place. Instead, I think a lot of it is the negative connotations attached. So when my own friends say “You’re not fat! You’re beautiful” what they mean is “You’re not ugly or lazy or a glutton or … etc.” Trust me, at 311 lbs I was definitely fat and I would admit as much. But, yes, I was fat AND beautiful, as you said they aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • http://www.curvyyoga.com Anna Guest-Jelley

      Yep, I’m with you. I totally agree that fat has a negative connotation, which is why I think folks should get to decide if/when they associate themselves with that word, as with any other. Thanks for your comment!

  • Rosie Molinary

    So empowering, Anna. Thank you for the power, perspective, and permission you offer all of us with this post.

    • curvyyoga

      Thank you, Rosie! I appreciate you so much.

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  • Denise Alden

    Here’s what’s funny for me: I can’t stand when people use the word ‘curvy’ (for almost anything anymore, really) and yet, I’ve always loved your name of Curvy Yoga. Go figure! I agree that it’s a welcome and friendly sound, and inclusive in some ways that ‘fat’ may not be. I often refer to myself as ‘big,’ because that’s how I feel, not just in my body, but in my persona and spirit, too. So well said, Anna, once again!

    • curvyyoga

      Ha — how funny, Denise! Well, I’m glad it resonates with you in this regard. :)

      I’m with you on big — it has so many lovely meanings!

  • Yolande Gobeil

    Anna, what would be your fee for a Skype, one-on-one yoga session? I’m quite big and my knees are shot, but I would love to reconnect with asanas adapted to my physical capabilities. I last did yoga at 23, was big back then but more flexible than today. Thanks .

  • http://chibijeebs.com/ Chibi Jeebs

    “I’m fat and beautiful. The two are not mutually exclusive, even though our culture certainly tries to convince us they are.”

    YES! LOVE this!

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