Plus Size Badass Dolly Singh Is Busting The Myth That Only Some Bodies Are Made For Yoga

If you have ever read the comments under an image of a plus size or curvy person doing pretty much anything, especially when they are talking about body-positivity, you will have no doubt come across the body police. We’re talking about those typical troll-like comments from people who only want to shame and dehumanize those whose body type doesn’t fit into the societal norms we’ve all been dutifully raised on, thanks to the fashion and advertising industries.

But with the emergence of social media influencers and the bo-po movement disrupting beauty norms to the point where major brands are taking notice and changing their marketing strategies accordingly, we are slowly starting to see a much greater acceptance of different imagery and messages around bodies. Yet there are some who continue to insist on assuming they know how to accurately predict someone’s health or fitness level simply by looking at them.

Which is why we need people like Dolly Singh all over the internet busting stereotypes and putting to rest that a certain body type or weight is the determining factor when it comes to what you are capable of. Dolly is based in Mumbai, India, and has been getting a lot of attention from worldwide media for the images she is posting on Facebook and Instagram.

The 34 year-old plus size yogi regularly posts images and short videos of herself in complex poses, proving you don’t have to be any particular body type to master yoga.

“To say ‘You can’t do this because you have so much weight,’ I don’t believe that,” she told AFP in an interview from her home town.

Her passion for yoga started after she was advised to lose weight a few years ago by her doctor following an ankle sprain. At first she found a trainer and jumped on the losing weight bandwagon, but soon got bored. She decided to try yoga instead despite not knowing if she was able to do it due to her body type.

“The first class I was thinking ‘Can I really do this because I have a big body?’ After two or three class I realized people were looking at me and thinking ‘Oh my god she can do this’. My body had a certain kind of stamina, of flexibility,” she said.

But the classes she was taking weren’t always catered to curvier women like her, and she found herself looking online for instructional videos that catered to her body type. This also became the reason she started her own video series on Instagram, in order to help other yogis out there deal with body quirks not necessarily addressed in regular classes.

“We all have different bodies and if my teacher doesn’t have a belly, how will they know what the problems are of having a big belly? I’m a big busted person and if the teacher isn’t how are they going to understand that when I’m doing a Halasana (plough pose) I’m almost choking to death!” she said.

Pretty soon she started gaining a following on social media, especially from women who were thankful to see her giving visibility to plus size women and unapologetically promoting fitness at any size. The people responding positively would express how out-of-place they felt in physical classes, but found solace in her videos.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by some people saying they would feel alienated in a room full of perfect yoga bodies, how they would feel that everyone is watching them. There’s an idea of not showing your body if you’re big bodied. You’re supposed to hide everything because its not appealing or it’s not something people like to see but that’s just something that’s been sold to us,” she said, alluding to the ingrained, narrow standards.

Her disruptive presence in a world saturated with “fitspo”-style content and Instagram fitness stars who mostly fall into a certain body category is much-needed. Another body-positive plus size yogi who has been gaining quite a lot of attention in the United States is of course Jessamyn Stanley, whose Youtube Channel has gone viral. There are a number of other women who are changing the way we think about the definition by proving it is not a one-size-fits-all ideal.

But of course, while there are plenty of welcome reactions to Dolly’s presence, it seems to come with the territory that if you are a woman with an online presence, especially a plus size woman of color, it will attract some negativity.

“Indian men have not been encouraging at all. There are a lot of people who write very nasty comments. They would say something like ‘You’re just a fat blob, you look just like an elephant or bear, or you’re unfit or it’s because you’re eating so much food,” she said.

Dolly isn’t about to let the haters slow her down anytime soon and has a badass perspective on how to deal with them.

“I completely ignore these things. You can’t fight internet trolls. I don’t know these people so why should it bother me?” she said.

Instead, she focuses on her mission, which is to challenge notions of fitness and beauty, and promote a more positive body image online. Not only does she practice at home, but also in a park as she told Buzzfeed she likes having the open space.

In the beginning, I did get a few onlookers, probably wondering why me — a curvy girl — is doing this outside. But it’s Mumbai so it wasn’t that bad,” she said.

There is more than just one definition of “beauty” and more than one way to be healthy. Dolly is part of a global movement that is adding nuance to the conversation about fitness and we hope her images will continue to inspire many others around the world that they don’t have to hate or diminish who they are in order to live their best life.

“I’m not aiming to have this thin figure but I am aiming to have a beautiful flow and make my body strong through yoga,” she said.


One Comment

  1. As a Shame Busting Coach, I think it’s past time that we highlight more of these stories!

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