Lately, I have been going to one particular yoga class. It is a vinyasa yoga class and while it is not specifically designed as a hot yoga class… well, it is Tucson in the summer. So it’s basically hot, sweaty, vinyasa yoga without the branding and for cheaper. I love the class — when I’m not cursing chair pose under my breath — but all the same, I am jealous.
Jealous of the two regular guy students who arrive in class and promptly strip off their shirts like, “Of course this is socially acceptable here.”
Jealous of the regular woman student who nonchalantly favors strappy, cut-out crop tops.
Not, mind you, because any of these people are doing anything wrong; they’re not.
Rather, I am jealous because at home, I practice is shorts — not gonna lie, sometimes men’s athletic boxer briefs — and a sports bra. I’ve gotten comfortable in this attire, to the point where, during the warmer months — which, in Arizona, is the majority of the year — any more clothing feels cumbersome. Left to my own devices, I’d bring an extra towel to wipe the sweat from my belly and my back rather than wear the extra moisture in the form of a soggy shirt.
Only, I’m not sure I can do this in the studio.
Rather, I’m not sure I can do this in this studio — where I am often one of the biggest people in any class — and have it be a non-issue like I’d like it to be. You know, the way it is for these other people. Thinner people.
I realize, of course, that I can’t truly predict how folks at this studio would respond. Maybe no one would care.
Except, of course, I have ample personal experience to suggest that people would not, do not respond to my fat, shirtless body the same way they would respond to similar clothing choices made by someone thinner.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a generic comment that a fat person “can’t get away with” a more revealing item of clothing, this would be a non-issue. Because I’d be able to afford private sessions at a studio.
There are magazines and websites and television shows designed to tell people how to obscure their bodies — in part, to ask that fat people please not have the gall to look so damn fat.
I’ve heard personal acquaintances say that bigger people, specifically when pursuing athletic endeavors, shouldn’t wear short shorts or anything midriff baring.
I’ve been verbally and physically harassed for running in just my sports bra (and shorts and shoes).
I’ve had people with my own body type and size say that “we” can’t make these clothing choices — and expect me to agree.
I have not even counted the pairs of raised eyebrows.
So if I’m concerned about pushback — even in a place where I otherwise feel pretty safe and secure in my body — I have reason. While I fully understand that body and clothing policing happens to a variety of people for a variety of reasons and that no one is immune — the reality is that, in this particular case, if you subtracted ten from my clothing size, fewer eyebrows would raise.
And I think that is what I am most jealous of: the ability to pass unnoticed. To have my personal choices remain as such, rather than being seen as sociopolitical statements or as a potential affront to the people who “have to look at” me. It is not a pleasing thing to realize that my body is often viewed as either an offense or a curiosity.
Still, I grow tired of being jealous. Of not jumping fully into the game of my life. Of settling for “good enough” or second best. One day, I will wear whatever the fuck I want to yoga class. And if anyone’s eyebrows want to raise, they will be more than welcome to keep their eyes on their own damn mats.