#iwontcompromise: Redefining Health and Body Standards
Why is it that with all the other advancements society and technology are making, we still see bodies through a cookie-cutter paradigm? We believe that only people with certain builds can be actresses, ballerinas, models, yogis, etc. But that is not true. Every body is capable of talent, accomplishment, and dedication and can shine in any capacity.
I was so ecstatic to see a campaign floating around on Facebook recently that encouraged women of all body types not to compromise or conform to the molds society has created.
Penningtons, a trendy plus-size apparel company who has always strived to provide its customers with quality options that allow girls be trendy and bold in the bodies that they have, started the campaign. I spoke with Ria Kragaris, the Content and Communications Manager at Penningtons, who said that now felt like a good time to build on the support they aim to offer their customers by “[advocating] for her on a higher level.”
Penningtons hopes to start a conversation with society about stigmas and the effect that they have on us all. They want to create awareness about body-diversity, self-acceptance, and breaking stereotypes without compromising whom or what we are as individuals. CAN I GET A HELL YEAH?!
Penningtons said it best. “Clearly the need for this type of messaging is relevant...these stigmas and stereotypes are misguided and unrealistic.”
The company chose Dianne Bondy to prove just that. Dianne is an active plus-sized woman who has been teaching classes featuring various forms of movement for over 25 years. We see a yogi-Dianne in the video, disproving numerous stereotypes with her awesome balance and ability to twist and bend like every great yogi. Dianne, who was introduced to the practice at a young age by her mother, finds that yoga helps her define who she is and what she wants to offer the world, by giving her the tools to cope with life.
Dianne recognizes that #iwontcompromise is about more than just yoga. “The message tells us we are worthy,” she says. I am sure many of us have been told we cannot achieve something because of our bodies. Society is forever accenting the point that fit, beautiful people are the only ones deserving of recognition, praise, and worth. "This campaign is about celebrating all bodies, self-acceptance, breaking down stereotypes, and not having to compromise who we are," says Dianne.
It is refreshing to hear that. Even though I consider myself someone with high self-esteem, I sometimes forget that I am worthy and strong and that I don’t need to compromise. This campaign has the ability to reach millions and millions of women, and I hope that they too feel worthy and beautiful in their bodies.
Like Dianne, we need to be strong and continue battling stereotypes against full-figured women. “It has been very tough,” she says. “People see your size and think you are unhealthy. Your size isn’t the only determinant of your health.” I know that to be true and I recently found myself smirking reading an article about obese skinny people. Just because our bodies have certain dimensions does not mean that we are healthy or unhealthy. Every body is unique and the best thing for each of us to do is to nurture the one that we have to ensure that we are healthy. Dianne has made it her mission “to show people that health comes in [many] shapes and sizes.”
There are a lot of people devoted to showing women that their bodies are capable and healthy. I had the opportunity to get to know one such woman, Jenny Riley-Doyle, owner of Grace Studio in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Similar to Dianne, Jenny was told that she couldn’t be a professional dancer because of her build. She opened her studio to “prove that EVERYONE can dance or do yoga.” Because she was once deterred from pursuing her passion of dance, she wants to offer an opportunity for others “to be able to follow their passion, no matter what body type.” She feels that there is huge fault in labeling an individual and making them believe they are incapable based on their body type. “Human beings come in ALL shapes and sizes,” she says.
There is a huge problem with self-esteem and positive body-imaging in today’s society. Women see magazine photos of models, exceptionally fit yogis, and ballerinas and believe that they have to force their bodies to fit these molds. Jenny calls attention to the many eating disorders and addictions to diet and exercise due to these expectations, as another reason for the importance of this campaign. Jenny wants to support it because she “believes the mindset of our generation has to be changed.”
When I do yoga, I feel empowered; I feel capable; I feel excited to see what my body can do. I have been practicing yoga for a few years now and am constantly amazed at the difference it has made in my life. I know many of us have been discouraged from such activities because we are ashamed, or feel incapable because of our build, but be encouraged to disprove stereotypes and misconceptions, because #iwontcompromise and neither should you.
If you want to get involved with the conversation go to facebook.com/penningtons to share the video and campaign. You can also join the Yoga and Body Image Coalition (YBIC) which is dedicated to changing the standard images of yoga to include all body types. Dianne invites you to join her community on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at Dianne Bondy Yoga, or to practice with her online at Yogasteya.com.