Why I Don’t Want Your Compliment

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I look different than I used to. People comment on it. It’s weird.

People I barely know say I’ve been “slimming down” and ask if I’ve been working out. Um. I teach yoga for a living and skate 3-6 hours a week (way less than many of my league mates). I’ve had a general increase in activity in the past few months because business is good and derby is great, but I don’t feel inclined to explain this to people. The subtext of their intended compliment is, “Although we’re practically strangers, I’ve noticed some changes in your body because I consider it my job and/or right to critique the bodies of others, and I want you to know that I approve/disapprove/have concerns.” In other words, it’s presumptuous as fuck.

I try not to give weight-based compliments because human beings are beautiful by definition and attaching a person’s worth to their weight is shitty. But I will say stuff like, “Wow, you look amazing!” Or I might even say, “You look like you’ve been taking good care of yourself,” which I hear some people take to mean “you look fat,” but I actually mean it literally. I try to praise any positive changes in a person, and maybe it’s equally presumptuous of me. But everyone likes getting compliments, so if someone seems like they’re happy, less stressed out, or really following their passion in life — or if they’re just really well dressed and rocking it, I like to tell them.

But when it comes to weight/body-related commentary, I prefer to keep my mouth shut and think other people should, too. For one thing, asking about a person’s weight is both rude and pointless. 1: It’s none of your business. 2: The number means mind-blowingly little for most people. 3: If the person’s weight is a threat to their health and you’re not their doctor, they probably don’t need or want your advice.

I get it, though. Humans like to give and receive compliments. It’s an evolved social bonding system, and our egos love it. But I could really do without comments on my body from pretty much anyone ever. Because really, I’m not doing this for you.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

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Set a Kinder Resolution for 2014

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I know a lot of folks will be setting new year’s resolutions to lose weight because we’re all trained to think of ourselves as fat and fat as bad … so I’m not comfortable promoting my yoga classes like, “Hey, let me help you with that totally body-shaming and self-hating resolution.” Maybe this new year you could make it your goal to make peace with your body instead. If you want to try a compassionate approach to your health, I would love to have you in my yoga classes this year.

Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll introduce you to the basics poses for beginners and incorporate them in a gentle flow class. I’ll adjust and modify poses to support your unique physical needs — whether your concern is as simple as tight hamstrings or chronic illness, there is a yoga practice for you. I’ll give you support and guidance as you deepen your practice. I’ll promise to always keep learning.

Here’s what you’ll do: Show up. Be open to learning. Be kind to yourself. Choose to work at a level that challenges you but respects the needs and limitations of your body — we all have some!

Classes resume on a normal schedule tomorrow, Jan. 2, 2014. I’ll be teaching online and in the studio, so you can catch me at either place.

This is about as much self promotion I can handle in one blog post, but I just want y’all to know I can’t wait to work with you in 2014. My goal as a yoga teacher is not to make you lose weight but to help you realize you’re already fucking amazing. So… you know. If you’re down with that, come see me.

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