I’m a fat-queer educator, researcher, and yoga facilitator based in Hammond, Louisiana.
Our world is alienating. White Supremacy, Cis-Hetero-Patriarchy, Ableism, and Anti-Fatness actively repress our humanity. As a result, many of us accept that we are unworthy of dignity. Worse yet, we allow other people to suffer because we don’t recognize them as humans either. I spent most of my fat-queer life thinking that I was unworthy of love, acceptance, or kindness. I believed that I needed to shrink myself before I could be worthy. I lived disembodied, for a future thinner self. One day I could be happy, but not until I took up less space.
For most of my life, movement/exercise was punishment for having eaten “too much” being “lazy” and allowing myself to get “fat”. I accepted and even paid for shame, humiliation, and abuse from family, friends, gym teachers, doctors, and personal trainers. Practicing yoga brought me back into my body and allowed me to find joy and freedom through movement. It wasn’t always easy. In the beginning, my inner critic screamed with rage, “you don’t belong here! This should be easy! Maybe if you didn’t let yourself get so fat you could do this!”. With time, I learned to use asana as a tool to quiet the mind. Most days, I can easily redirect my attention to physical sensations, rather than listening to the echoes of past trauma.
I created Fat Kid Yoga Club for folks in larger bodies to explore joyful movement and celebrate what is possible in their bodies one practice at a time. Fat Kid Yoga Club is a truly judgment-free zone where folks like me, who were always picked last or have experienced a lifetime of body shame get to reconnect with their bodies and have fun at the same time. Many of the people who practice with me new to yoga or are returning to the practice after a long break. I encourage them to prioritize self-care, to truly make the practice their own, and not to hold themselves to other people’s expectations. In Fat Kid Yoga Club, we show up fully and take up space because we are worthy.
As instructors, we cannot give anyone yoga – it’s something each person has to find on their own. I can lead people through postures, pranayama, and meditation. However, these practices are simply tools through which we can reconnect with our humanity. In other words, the postures are not the point. When I encourage my clients to adapt postures, it’s not just for them to experience the same benefits of the posture. Rather, I also want them to see that there is more than one way to experience life and that it’s okay to go your own way. At the end of the day, our value as human beings is not tied to our ability to do a handstand. Each of us is worthy of dignity, love, acceptance, and respect simply for being alive.
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I earned my Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Central Florida in 2013. My research examines homelessness in the context of disaster. I have published in the Natural Hazards Review, the International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, the Journal of Emergency Management, and the Natural Hazards Observer. Please see my curriculum vitae for more information about my research and publications.