Strong is the New Skinny. {Nudity}

Via Michelle Dawson
on Apr 5, 2012
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(Photo courtesy of Jasper Johal)

This is a story about how we begin to remember who we really are.

“I believe in pink.

  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.

I believe in kissing,

kissing a lot.

I believe in being strong.

I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.

I believe that tomorrow is another day


I believe in miracles.”

 ~ Audrey Hepburn

I’m assuming that all you sultry and sweat lovin’ yogis know of the demand for moisture-wicking, and the seriousness linked to the post-operative packing procedure associated with attending a hot yoga class.

I’m sure you do.

It’s actually kind of a committed process which makes attending a hot yoga class anything but impromptu. That’s kind of a problem for me because, as it turns out, I really enjoy impromptu. In fact, my seat of the pants, anything goes behavior patterns force me to be a huge subscriber to pre-meditated, prophylactic packing, but the soaking wet interchangables are not invited into any of my foreshadowed frontiers.

I really detest the smell of four way stretched, moisture wicked, mold spores.

So if I unexpectedly happen across a steamy hot asana session in some uncharted Yoga territory, it usually means I will be taking my post class, wet ass-ana to the nearest clothing store to purchase a well earned outfit of my choice. And while most yoga studios sell articles of clothing, I refuse to replace wet Lycra with dry Lycra.

I‘d rather slip into a little cotton dress and throw away my underwear.

I actually kind of love this part.

Most of the time.

This is a story that reveals the sort of liberation that happens not because I happily tossed away my undergarments, but rather because I—once and for all—threw away my very unrealistic ideal.

Here goes:

When what we think is happening and what is really happening are totally incongruent, inner peace is virtually impossible. From the perspective of a mind that believes most of it’s thoughts to be true, shifting the vantage point is usually challenging.

Take me for instance, in the aftermath of my hot asana display, believing I had a pretty good sense of what type of clothes to put on my body when low and behold, I was greeted by the chic boutique’s effeminate dressing room guru who was about to tell me otherwise.

He offered me the hard-core truth about my body type. Standing in the backroom of this beautiful store, fully clothed yet metaphorically half-naked in front of a presumably body-altering dressing room mirror, John the boutique’s leading man looked at me with total conviction and a deadpan stare and said,

 “You can not wear that dress, it’s made of thick a material and you’re a thick girl, so its just not going to work”

In one split second, the dressing room guru shattered every illusion that I had been carrying until this point. This is not to say that he was wrong, the illusion that he shattered was an idea I that I had been carrying since the onset of puberty. The almost narcissistic notion that I proposed to myself about myself:

I really believed that I could morph my body into a different body type classification.

He unraveled and revealed to me the very crux of my inability to fully embrace who I am. Without going to deep into a psychological diatribe, I will offer this:

I have always tip-toed around body type classifications. They’re really painful. When you’re in the movement industry, body type decides your destiny. Being a yoga teacher is no different than being on stage. And while I gave up the stage a long time ago,  I’m still living out the same story in a different venue. It has become very clear to me that part of my mission in this lifetime is to liberate myself from these lofty ideals that cause me great suffering.

From the perspective of my deluded mind, I have always perceived myself to be a flat chested tomboy. It turns out, I am actually a strong, voluptuous, woman.

All this time, the mirror was telling the Truth

When I look at my almost 11 year old daughter, I am awe-struck by her perfectly proportioned, growing frame. I recognize that she was created perfectly. Her body makes sense to the life style her and I live. She is agile. She is strong and she thoroughly enjoys every sandwich.

Genetics don’t lie.

Neither does

John, the dressing room guru.

So, get yourself to a hot yoga class, throw away your panties, go shopping at a super-cute boutique and culminate your liberating afternoon with a delicious sandwich. Enjoy every bite—especially the bread.

I leave you with this Mirror Mantra:

Nobody has ever been saved by an emaciated Superhero.

Here’s to embracing the functionality of Strength and the ability to see things as they are.

Love from the Black Dirt.

  additional photo credit george pejoves


Editor: Kate Bartolotta


About Michelle Dawson

Michelle Dawson is a prolific Body Artist who hails from the Black Dirt region of Upstate NY. She combines the ancient arts of Henna and Yoga as a means of reaching the sacred poise of Body and Mind. Referring to her craft as Body Art by Michelle, she owns and operates a Yoga studio in Chester, NY. Her self-appointed title is Black Dirt Goddess and her goal is to deliver Art to Asana and return Asana to the Arts. She lives by a mantra from Rainer Marie Rilke: "No Great art has ever been created without the artist having known some real danger." Michelle can be found adorning appendages anywhere from NYC streets to Holy festivities in grandiose temples: she believes that every body was created for the satiation of the Artist.


21 Responses to “Strong is the New Skinny. {Nudity}”

  1. gina says:

    love love lovey love love……oh, and i love me some ME!

  2. Black Dirt Goddess says:

    g~ this is what happened the day of the home anniversary…now it is immortalized…

  3. yogijulian says:

    very, very nicely done.

  4. Vision_Quest2 says:

    He may not be lyin' but I'm not buying anything but the thickly-fabricated dress. IN bright red with large patterned black houndstooth. You get tired wearing (cheap, shameful) flimsy cloth dresses all your heavi(er) life …

    Strong is the new STRONG. And skinny just is.

    I look as if I have some muscle in the thick cloth.

  5. shay says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the brand new Elephant Health & Wellness Homepage.

    Shay Dewey
    Please "like" Elephant Health & Wellness on Facebook

  6. vanessa says:

    You look pretty skinny to me. I think the way we look at our bodies and their size is changing as the gap between haves and have-nots grows. Cheap, high-calorie food is so abundant in western societies that it is incredibly difficult to restrain ourselves. Genetically we are pre-programmed to eat when food is there. But in pre-industrial times that was a seasonal gorge, not a daily gorge, lol. Food is seen as a reward, a treat or a temptation – but it is really just fuel. Exercise of any type will not change our basic body type. Even if I starve myself I will always be statuesque and wide-hipped. I am quite muscular too and actually look slimmer if I stop running and yoga as I lose muscle mass. But what matters is my health and how I feel, not what other people think of my big, round buttocks 🙂

  7. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  8. Jackie says:

    Michelle, Amazing!


  9. Jackie says:

    "No one was ever saved by an emanciated superhero"

    <3 <3 <3

  10. Black Dirt Goddess says:


  11. Black Dirt Goddess says:

    strong is the new strong! well put

  12. Black Dirt Goddess says:

    🙂 thanks for following!

  13. Dale Elson says:

    What a beautiful and wonderful realization :-). Congratulations!!!

  14. Love the message, but the title still irks me….

  15. Andréa Balt says:

    Thanks for this, Michelle. Borrowing that Mirror Mantra for my issues.

  16. Black Dirt Goddess says:

    mirror mantras are profound!

  17. […] Strong is the New Skinny. {Nudity} […]

  18. […] I mean, come on! Of course! This isn’t my problem. The problem is out there. That’s why going within was so frustrating. I was trying to change myself instead of, metaphorically speaking, buying a new mirror. […]

  19. Allison Lea says:

    Excuse me, but I happen to be a very skinny superhero. So glad you love your curvy self, but no need to put down one body type to elevate another.