I saw this thing on Facebook earlier this week and I admit I kinda blew it off as a Silly Little White Girl Move and ignored it; because really that’s what you do with ignorant people, you ignore them. But then it started popping up EVERYWHERE. Not just the original post, or links to the original post, but commentary and responses to the original post. So now I feel the need to respond.
Back in Chicago I decided, in a need of finding some happiness, that I would start taking dance classes. I got a 10 Day pass at Intrigue Dance Studio (I love this studio and will offer it all the free publicity that I can!). Now I wasn’t always the only black girl, or person for that matter; there were a few others including the instructor. I was however the biggest and the least trained in the studio. Nothing brought me more joy than being singled out for doing a good job on a move, getting good height on a leap, or just remembering some of my remedial dance terminology.
Never once did I feel conscientious about being the fat black girl in class. Not even during the 1 pilates/yoga class I took to use up all my days before the deadline. Granted I probably looked like an idiot in downward dog, I was just happy that I could touch my toes. I have given all of this information as a way to prove my ability to speak on the subject manner.
Dear Skinny White Girl,
I’m sorry that you felt SO uncomfortable in your yoga class. This is supposed to be a time for relaxation and self-awareness and I apologize that my sister in black fatness threw you off your chi. However bear with me as I attempt to illuminate the situation.
1.) I must ask this question. Why were you watching her in the first place opposed to focusing on your pranayama? Considering the fact that she was behind you I doubt that you were able to watch her every move. You described her as “crouched down on her elbows and knees, head lowered close to the ground, trapped and vulnerable”. As I remember from my few public yoga classes, as well as the few videos I tried to keep up with, this was the Beginner Safety Pose. This is where I go when everyone else is doing planks and I’m sweating buckets and can’t hold ALL of my weight on my forearms and toes. So maybe she was just waiting for a point where she felt comfortable participating again. Perhaps said point did not come or perhaps you missed it.
2.) It had nothing to do with your (or her) color. When I started reading your post I glanced over the fact that she was black. I looked at it as an adjective that wasn’t important to understanding the situation. It may not have had to do with size but lets say that it was. It mattered not if you were Black, White, Asian, Mexican, or a Flying Purple People Eater, you were SKINNY. In the few times I was in yoga/pilates/dance class I admit that my eyes strayed to the smaller girls; and they were ALL smaller than me. Sometimes I didn’t want to be as small as they were considering that one of them was the size of one of my thighs; other times I was thinking “one day I’m going to be able to wear a ‘tastefully tacky sports bra’ with no fear of jiggle or ridicule! Today planks, tomorrow high waisted biker shorts!” Perhaps maybe that is why she was watching you. She didn’t mean to offend socially conscience mind she was idolizing you because you, skinny girl of non-descript racial origins standing like a flamingo without falling over, are who with, diligent practice, she can one day emulate.
3.) And I say this with all the love that I can muster for someone that I don’t know…GET OVER YOURSELF! I mean seriously, you went home and cried because in your head you decided that this poor innocent girl who just wanted to make a change in life was giving you the Death Glare? Who cares? If she was congratulate yourself and pack yourself on the back for obtaining a new Hater. Every woman no matter of her Size, Race, Orientation, or Economic Standing should Strive for Five every month. And if you felt the urge to purge as one of what sounds like many skinny white girls in your class, how do you think SHE felt after being the only black fat girl who could not get past the WARM-UPs! I am officially stereotyping you in a COMPLETELY different way now.
What I really wanted to read at the end of your post is that you spoke to the girl and offered to help her. That you told her stories about YOUR first day in yoga class, recommended a different/easier class or some videos, books, blogs that she could check out to help her feel more comfortable the next time. I was hoping that you tried to be the “bigger person” (pun intended) and extend an olive branch in a way to be the change that you hoped to see. Instead you went home and cried, unfortunately not at your own elitist stupidity…
I don’t even know what else to say…
Heavyset Black Girl Who Attempts to Do Yoga