Body image is a hot topic in this world. Between society’s pressure to look a certain way and the advertising world pushing a selling point and social media gone wild, there is hardly any room to breathe and just focus on yourself. The yoga world really isn’t any better. There is an underlying misunderstanding of the “yoga body”. Think of how many times you’ve heard someone say,”I’m not flexible enough”, or, “I’m not thin enough”. By the way when someone says they’re not flexible, I respond with “don’t worry, that’s like saying you don’t know the French language and so you’re not going to go to French class.” The yoga practice is for every body. EVERY. BODY.
Ever since my parents finally broke down and got smart phones and went to CLASS to learn how to use their smart phones, I’ve been sharing photos with them. Usually the photos are of Kauai sunsets, sunrises, flowers, the ocean, whatever. We live an ocean and a country apart. And it is really really nice to stay in touch. That being said, I NEVER ever send a photo of myself. Until a month ago. It was a time when I knew my father was stuck in a rut and feeling depressed. I knew that a photo of me would cheer him up. So I took a selfie of my new haircut smiling ear to ear and texted it to him. After a moment’s hesitation, I also sent it to my mom. I could practically hear her giving him a hard time about receiving a photo that she did not get. So I went against my better judgement and texted the selfie to her as well.
My father responded the next morning, saying how pleased he was and that he felt as if I were right next to him smiling. He said that he was going to have a good day.
A few hours later, my mom called. She was speaking super sweet and nice, the way she does when she wants something and I know she’s not going to come right out and say it. She says – “next time you come visit, I want to go with you and together we can get our eyebrows done”. I ask her what it is she wants to get done. Is it threading? Reshaping? Wax? She says no no no and beats around the bush for about 23 minutes. TWENTY THREE MINUTES. I finally got it out of her that she wants me to get my eyebrows tattooed. TATTOOED!! This from the woman who when I was 14 years old, noticed in the elevator after my lesson at the Juilliard School 5th floor that I had tweezed my eyebrows. She promptly started smashing her face and head with her fists. Grinding her teeth and yelling how could I do this to her. In the elevator. At Juilliard. This from the woman who threatened if I ever got a tattoo, she would “hurt” herself.
I’m sort of watering everything down here, but you get the point. She has an obsession with a person/body (me) because it is her property and anything that happens to it needs her permission. Otherwise, there are many unfavorable consequences. And for those who don’t know anything about me, I would NEVER TATTOO MY EYEBROWS holy hell. I don’t have anything against it, it’s just definitely NOT my flavor. But what I care about is not a concern of hers.
Last week I texted my father an awesome photo of me hiking the Napali Coast to Hanakapia’i Falls. The photo showed the ocean, the cliffs, and me with my arms tossed up in joy. A few days later I called my mom to wish her a happy birthday. I was stopped with “hey Monica, I thought yoga is supposed to make you thin and pretty”, and, “did you gain weight?!”, and, “what size do you wear now?”, and, “how come you’re so BIG”, and, (her favorite)”your face is like a MOON”, and, “what happened to you?”, and (another favorite) “nobody is going to tell you the truth, only your mother is going to tell you”. She continued to compare me with her friend’s daughter, Heidi. That was ridiculous in itself because Heidi is 5’4″ and a size 00. Double zero in case you’ve never see it written out. I am 5’8″ and a size 6/8. Like I said, she clearly has an obsession. Extreme body dysmorphia. She has continued to badger me about my weight and physical appearance multiple times a day since I was in middle school. I’m now 30-something.
I have to clarify here that I am fine. Like everyone else I go up and down, but for the overwhelming most part, I am really good with the inner and outer workings of my physical body. Yes I used to be super scrawny and just…well really straight. Like an arrow. It was my body type when I was a kid. Tall and skinny. I modeled a runway fashion show when I was 19. But I was also physically weak. I eventually grew into myself (approx. 20 lbs added on) and I have been pretty much the same weight for the past decade. My sisters and I always marvel at the fact that none of us ever developed any eating disorders despite growing up with the above mentioned terror. We all have alarmingly healthy appetites. We all love to cook. I was on a reality tv cooking show for crying out loud. (Ohhh don’t you want to know which one hmmm?) And we can pretty much eat our friends under the table. We are also very active and committed to healthy choices and lifestyle.
No amount of reasoning ever works for my mom. No matter how many times I say that I’ve been the same weight since forever, or explain that yoga doesn’t necessarily make you thin, or hey how about trying to be nice for a change, it is her obsession.
So what happens when the biggest bully in your life is your own mom?
Love her. It is her struggle not mine. And while it is still stressful to deal with, handle her with love. She is a epic walking headcase. A disaster. I would need to write an entire book about all the things she has said and done and tried to brainwash me my whole life. But it is her body dysmorphia, not mine. I stick firmly to the way I know is good for me and my physical health. And I laugh. A lot. Shake my head in continued awe and disbelief.
Support each other and encourage each other. And by the way, the OPPOSITE of picking on someone for being overweight is unacceptable too. Calling someone a “stick insect”, or, “too skinny”, or, “beanpole” or whatever is just as bad and you are being just as much of an asshole for saying that. I have friends and family who have said this to me and IT IS UNACCEPTABLE. Stop reflecting on others. Don’t be an asshat. Be nice. You never know what the person in front of you is struggling with.
Above is the photo of my hike along the Napali Coast I share with my father
It’s been a long journey from a scrawny kid to building strength for warrior 3!
Feel free to follow me on Instagram “Kauaiyogamon” for more photos of Kauai