An Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City. ~ Joshilyn Jackson

Via elephant journal
on Jan 17, 2012
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Let’s hear it for body acceptance. Let’s hear it for collective support, rather than competitive acrobatics in yoga class. Let’s hear it for humor. ~ ed.

Excerpted with personal permission of the author.


An Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City

Dear Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City,

Perhaps I should call you other fat girl at Hot Yoga, as I was there too, easing back into my Fat Down Dog, forward to Fat Plank, then melting and pushing up to Fat Cobra, etc etc, all the way through my big fat hot Vinyasa flow. (This should be a movie—My Big Fat Hot Vinyasa Flow—I would SO go to see that.)

Is it wrong that I am half in love with you? For being fat and at Hot Yoga? For shaving your legs and getting a GOOD pedicure and putting your big ol’ ass into yoga pants ? For unrolling your mat and claiming your space, a rounded duck standing defiantly on one squatty leg among flamingos.

Were you as happy to see me as I was to see you? I think you were. You kept peeking at me, under your armpit and between your thighs, when you should have had been looking at your Drishti, only to find I had abandoned my Drishti and was misaligning my spine to peek at you.

We both tipped over out of tree because of it. But it was okay. We were a secret club of Fat Girls at Hot Yoga. We understood each other.

I miss you, now that I am back home in Georgia. I am ALWAYS the only fat girl at Hot Yoga. I am sure it is exactly the same for you—-You might think there would be more of us fat girls here in Quasi-Rural Georgia than in New York City.

Well, okay. There are, actually, but I am the only one in CLASS. We sometimes have one girl who THINKS she is another Fat Girl at Hot Yoga. She is not, God bless her. She is only mentally ill. At my Hot Yoga here, all the regulars are very beautiful and sleek, like otter puppies.

Yoga people. Honestly. They are long and loopy and bendable and glorious. I wish I was one, but I froth and churn and fail at cleanses.

They seem so at peace with their physicalness, living inside bodies that look like loops of strong ribbon. Meanwhile, I am at war. I am at war with my body.

Oh Fat Girl at Hot Yoga in New York City, are you at war with yours, too? Has it let you down? Are you angry with it? I am. Righteously furious, actually.

This stupid body has failed me in so many ways these last two years. It has been endlessly sick. It has required surgery and bed rest and vicious medication that got me well, but made me feel sicker.

I AM VERY ANGRY WITH IT for being sick, for getting fat, for not doing what I SAY.

But I am nice to it anyway, three times a week, at Hot Yoga.

Fat Girl, I saw you in New York, and I thought, GOOD FOR YOU. You are trying to find a way to be stronger, to live in yourself, to like your body enough to give it that seventy-five minutes of movement and acceptance. To just take care of the damn thing, even if you ARE mad at it. To treat it like an exasperating, ugly, ill-tempered little child—one you secretly adore.

At the start? Every time? I set my intention and it is this: For the next 75 minutes, don’t look around, don’t compare, don’t list all the ways you are not good enough to be here, and don’t hate yourself. Just Breathe. Just Breathe. Just Breathe. Just be in your body and remember how good a place it is to be, really.

For the first half of class, I remind myself that this body is not some shabby rental. It is home. No matter how mad I am, it is home.

By the second half, I always come to understand that it is more than home. It is more than where I live.

It is me.

I am it.

I remember my husband likes it. A lot. I remember it twice performed a function that was nothing short of miraculous, growing two exceptional babies entirely from scratch. My brain is a piece of it, and my brain is where the stories come from.

This is what I get from Hot Yoga, Fat Girl. I am not sure what you get. I hope the same thing. I wish ALL the Fat Girls would come to Hot Yoga and get this, get these minutes where we forget —if only for a little while— that our value as people doesn’t go down when our pants sizes go up.

And also? Selfishly? I DO wish at least one more would come, so I would have someone to peek at under my armpit, to give that little tip of the chin, that little nod.

Fat Girl at Hot Yoga Solidarity, baby. We aren’t perfect, but we are HERE, busting out of our yoga pants, ducks among flamingos, trying to take care of ourselves.

Namaste fricken DAY,

The Fat Girl You Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City

…Read the original at Joshilyn’s site, and leave a comment.



When Fat People Do Yoga.


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118 Responses to “An Open Letter to the Fat Girl I Saw at Hot Yoga in New York City. ~ Joshilyn Jackson”

  1. Trin says:

    Loved this honest from the heart piece of writing. Hoping for more authentic pieces from Elephant Journal.

  2. Marte says:


  3. KatrinaPoms says:

    Forgive me, but as a fat girl who does yoga, this "open letter" is obnoxious in the extreme. If I were the intended recipient of this letter, repeatedly addressed as "Fat Girl," I would likely return one that addressed the writer as "Dumb Bitch."

    "Hey, Dumb Bitch, good to see you in class again, but just because I weigh too much does not mean we have anything more than that in common.

    Hey, Dumb Bitch … instead of looking at me every time you come to class as being something of an anomaly, why not consider that just because "one of these things is not like the others" it doesn't mean it has no place in the grouping?

    Hey, Dumb Bitch – has it occurred to you to actually talk to me, or does it make you happier to imagine that I spend my life trapped in my body like a prisoner in a cell, just because I (clearly) don't match your own personal standards of what constitutes beauty or fitness?

    Hey, Dumb Bitch! Why do you assume I'm angry with my body, just because you are with yours? Why do you think I fight and struggle with it every day, like a teenage girl in her first pair of high heels? Why do you assume I hate it or myself?

    Hey, Dumb Bitch! Sadly, I live in the south, where, admittedly, there are a lot more dumb bitches – I just don't come into contact with them much …

    Do you get my drift? Do you understand why this "open letter" is so stunningly, amazingly, unbelievably offensive? It is written (covertly) in the same smug tone that southern women use to cut each other to ribbons – "Poor thing."

  4. Tom Leykis says:

    You know, it's not that difficult for fat/obese people to lose weight. You're not "genetically" fat. You're not "big boned" (that's a scientific fallacy and a myth), You're eating too much. It's simple math, physics, chemistry and the application of the Laws of Thermodynamics. You eat fewer quality calories than you expend, ergo you WILL lose weight. Fat people are sneak eaters. Fat people grossly underestimate their caloric/food intake. Fat people overestimate the amount of activity/exercise they engage in. Fat people have a myriad of excuses. It's IMPOSSIBLE to be "HAES" because, medically and scientifically, you can't be. Only 1 of every 4200 people per the CDC and NIH have legitimate thyroid issues leading to moderate weight gain which is easily controlled through steroids, so that excuse is out. You will have high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gout, limb loss, heart disease, stroke, cancer……..etc. It's costs more in terms of healthcare dollars and related than smoking does.

  5. no ordinary jane says:

    Your name is DKNY………that is all.

  6. Sam says:

    As another fat Yogi I really LOVED this. Sometimes I attend senior yoga classes. Because they tend to be less judgemental, more welcoming. They still manage feats that I can not. But I love it, and it makes me feel so much better.

  7. Mary Anne says:

    and who are you to judge anyone's journey…hmmm apparently you have not taken in this important principle of yoga. Namaste'

  8. Lindsay says:

    Thank you, for writing THE best response to this horrendous article.

  9. Anna says:

    Love your response! You are right! I liked this excerpt from letter:
    "At the start? Every time? I set my intention and it is this: For the next 75 minutes, don’t look around, don’t compare, don’t list all the ways you are not good enough to be here, and don’t hate yourself. Just Breathe. Just Breathe. Just Breathe. Just be in your body and remember how good a place it is to be, really."
    I'm skinny and that has been my intention on more than one occasion. It's not about size. It's about accepting our differences and acknowledging our sameness.

  10. fat sea girl says:

    Fat isn't a judgement, it's just a way some people are.

  11. Raziya says:

    I'm usually the only fat girl in the class AND I live in Savannah, Ga. Once I saw a fat girl and told her how beautiful she is and to keep it up. Because of money I haven't been back. I hope didn't insult her. I wanted to let her know she's on the right path. I'm not as big as her but i am big and if a yoga instructor doesn't tell her that she is okay where she is and everybody is where they are supposed to be and their path to better health then it's a good thing they didn't accept her openly. She shouldn't be in a class that will shame her. I'm actually responding to a previous comment that I can't find. It's okay.

    To all the fat girls out there doing yoga. Keep going. You have more of a right to be there than anybody. okay, Off to the park to do yoga.

  12. Cris says:

    Unfortunately, in the country I come from, being FAT is synonymous to being alone, untouchable. And I am not blaming the other side, it is my own fault that I let my body slip right into morbid obesity. I have reacted and am losing weight but i do recognise that the damage has been done. No man wants a damaged body, no matter how “elevated” his spirity might be. So accepting the fact that I will most certainly BE alone the rest of my life is not easy. Very difficult especially when now (that I am 60) I realise I AM interested in love and in having a relationship, a hot romance, with someone before I die. How does one deal with this?

  13. Mel says:

    Aaaaaaaand we have the inevitable man who thinks he's being noble when he puts some women down in order to supposedly build other women up. Ron, you're being a jerk. Here's a thought. Thin women don't deserve to be put down for being thin.

  14. Karen says:

    To say I love this article is an understatement. What a lovely, compassionate validation that yoga is for *everyone*, that we all deserve our place on the mat, and that we all deserve kindness, especially from ourselves. How blessed I am to practice with an amazing instructor, who is courageous, strong, and also a big girl. I celebrate my duckness and am thrilled to be entering my 3rd year of consistent practice…moving from 2 times to 3 times a week. My yoga helps me in all ways and brings an awareness to my life that I never had before. Thank you, Veronica…and thank you to all my fellow ducks who practice in spite of feeling self-conscious. If we only keep present and breathing, we’ll get there!

  15. CaroleA says:

    Lipodema is a fat disorder that is under-recognized and often misdiagnosed. It is painful, debilitating, and left untreated results in immobility. It is a fact that DIET and EXERCISE have NO affect on Lipodema fat….the body can become malnourished through over doing diets and exercise, the top half being skin and bone while the legs down to the ankles remain huge. Please don't judge "fat" people so harshly. I have Lipo/ lymphoedema and IF you could walk in my shoes for 24hrs you would learnnot only compassion but how people with your attitude do so much harm. Lipodema is hereditary and NOT MY FAULT! It is not only painful physically but mentally too. There is no cure !! See

  16. CaroleA says:

    Sorry this was posted in the wrong reply box…..was meant as a response to : SERENA

  17. Freedalida says:

    Over the course of 9 years doing yoga and taking other steps I SLOWLY went from 200 lbs to 140. I did a lot of adaptive yoga and restorative yoga and inner work. Without rushing or pushing, be easy on yourself. All in all I don't really love hot yoga. Go places where you feel accepted not challenged or judged or judgey. It was a cute letter but speaks as much to the work still left to do as the progress you make showing up for yourself and others.

  18. Sam Winchester says:

    This replies best describes the churning feeling in my stomach, as I read this “open letter”

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