Since its inception 130 years ago, Cosmopolitan Magazine has branded itself as a media publication which celebrates the elegant beauty of women. It has always been a publication which prides itself on featuring the best and brightest women that the mainstream dominant society has to offer, which is why the following story should be considered offensive to Melanoid people.
Recently, Cosmopolitan ran a story about a Black female yoga instructor named Jessamyn Stanley, who has billed herself as a “yoga enthusiast and fat femme”. The Durham, NC-based “fat yoga” instructor champions “body acceptance”, and says her social media influence is merely happenstance. When it comes to her influence, she had the following to say to Cosmopolitan in a story published on the media outlet’s site this past summer:
“People need to be able to see that there’s someone out there who’s also in the struggle, because I think there’s something with yoga where it turns into this aspirational thing…You see someone who lives a yogic life and it’s like ‘Oh, be like me, my life is so perfect, I’m awesome, my face is glowing, you can do whatever it is that I’m doing because I’m so cool…I’m like, ‘Actually, I’m just over here next to you eating cheese fries watching that person and also living a yogic life.’ We are on the same level. We are all in this together”
In the article, Stanley also goes on to say that the majority of people who have reached out to her tell her that the yoga photos she’s posted to her Instagram page have inspired them to embrace their bodies, no matter their shape or size.
This is no indictment on Stanley, but rather an observation to show how the dominant society frequently exploits plus-sized/bigger Black women along side smaller, shapelier–and more widely sought after–women of other ethnicities to proclaim this to be the “standard of beauty”…as if all Black women are plus-sized, and thoroughly enjoy being that way. Unbeknownst (or not) to Black women like Jessamyn Stanley who use their size as a symbol of empowerment, these white owned media outlets only use their images to further push their insidious agendas by promoting their own women while ridiculing the Black women that they claim to be “paying tribute to” in the process.
Below is an interview with Jessamyn Stanley via Cosmopolitan’s YouTube channel. In the video, she speaks on “body positivity”, and demonstrates the various yoga positions that she teaches her students/social media followers.