Episode 12 Where we started and how it's going, with Melanie Klein
TWO BLACK GIRLS TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING PODCAST: EPISODE 12
In this episode we talk to Melanie Klein, co-founder of the Yoga and Body Coalition. Listen as we discuss how things have changed for body positivity and inclusivity in the last six years. From our panel at a Yoga Journal conference in 2015 to today.
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Speaker 1: (00:04)
Welcome to the two black girls talk about everything podcast. I’m Dianne, and I’m Dee. And we’re going to be talking about everything, talking about yoga and fashion and everything. Hey, everybody. Welcome to the two black girls. Talk about everything podcast and today’s podcast. We’ll be talking to Melanie Klein, who is an empowerment coach thought leader and influencer in the areas of radical self-acceptance authentic power and supercharged confidence. She’s also a writer, speaker, and professor of sociology and women’s studies. She’s co-founded the Yoga and Body Image coalition in 2014 and lives in Santa Monica, California. You can connect with [email protected].
Speaker 2: (01:01)
Melanie Klein. Welcome to the Two Black Girls Talk About Everything podcast. We’re excited to have you Melanie, thrilled to be here, ladies. Hello. Hello. Melanie and I have known each other for quite some time. We are curators of the yoga and body image coalition back in the day. And we have seen quite a bit in that decade has been a part of an activist coalition and, and you know, that whole thing on Instagram and social media, how it started and how it’s going right now, so we can get a, yeah, absolutely. You know, as Dianne said, we met about a decade ago, which is pretty wild to think about. And Dianne and I back in between 2010 and 2011, um, we had posted some, I mean, listen, in retrospect, pretty revolutionary and groundbreaking articles for elephant journal, which seems like a million years ago. I had published one in the summer of 2010 on yoga feminism and body image.
Speaker 2: (02:26)
It was really important for me to connect sort of the critical consciousness and the very theoretical awareness, the roots of social justice that I had learned in my feminist sort of, you know, um, experience and my sociological imagination up until that point, which had been that point. I’d been studying that for, uh, God, I’d say 16 years and right after that, um, and Anna Guest_Jelley a couple months later posted a piece on the rise of the Curvy yogini, which was really exciting to me because at the time that I had posted my piece on feminism, body image and yoga, I, I was the only person that I’d seen publicly having conversations about bringing these concepts and these practices and ways of thinking and being together. And I felt sort of like a lone voice and a lone agitator at the time of this changing yoga landscape that was happening, that was so homogenous and one dimensional.
Speaker 2: (03:25)
And so when Anna posted that piece, I was thrilled and I had reached out to her and we began a conversation and eventually she became the co-editor with me on the first book, yoga and body image. And then as we were starting that project, because we felt that it was so important to have a really diverse array of experiences and voices represented. Um, she had said to me, Hey, did you know, there’s this other woman, Dianne Bondy who also just published this piece also at elephant journal. Um, and I was like, Oh, really? And Dianne was bringing in, you know, not only the piece about, you know, uh sizeism and you know, these really stereotypical beauty norms, but also bringing in conversations about race and, uh, that your piece was called. Not all yogis are skinny white girls. I know, I didn’t say it exactly, but, and then, so, um, we had invited Dianne to be part of that book.
Speaker 2: (04:19)
And from there, I mean, I know it’s so cliche, but it’s like the rest is kind of history. We sort of created the small community, a small pod of individuals. And we were really looking around for other people to talk about their experiences specifically with body image and yoga and bringing in the intersections of race and class and gender and sexual orientation and size and, you know, ability, all of these things that we wanted represented. And to be honest, it was both easy and hard to find people at the time because there weren’t a lot of people talking about it publicly. The platforms that we are so familiar with now were just in their nascent forms. And to be quite honest, people in the wellness and spirituality and yoga communities were kind of just starting to use those particular tools. So on one hand it was hard, but on the other hand, there were only a few people.
Speaker 2: (05:11)
So we could also readily find them. And we had put together the book and it was, we started that project in 2011. It was slated for publication in 2014. So as was quite some time, and as we got close to the publication date, it was really important for me. Um, you know, and Dianne as well, we were having conversations that people were starting to really kind of co-opt these really powerful terms of, you know, self-acceptance, self-love body acceptance, et cetera. And, you know, coming from a sociological background and being a professor of gender women’s studies and sociology and media literacy, I was like, okay, we need to create some kind of a aggregated mass that kind of, you know, calls out and calls up people who are just looking to use these hashtags to now sell whatever product, whatever class, and also to allow people to have a place where they can connect to other seemingly low, um, lone voices who are really doing the deep work.
Speaker 2: (06:12)
And, uh, so then the yoga and body image coalition was born. I wanted to have a place for people to come together, and it was pretty remarkable that when we announced that the coalition had formed and we had our initial website with all of the community partners at the time, um, I mean, we took off and running and we, Dianne and I with Dana Smith and, uh, B Garrett, we also went to the yoga journal conference, uh, that was the summer of 2014. We started doing work with Yoga International, Catherine Ashworth had reached out and I actually talked about yoga and body image on the very first podcast that yoga talk ever did. And I think they’re like two or 300 episodes later. Um, so we just kind of exploded. And so how it started was super grassroots, super small, super on the ground. And how it’s going is I would say that having conversations about social justice and equity, critical consciousness and social consciousness with spirituality and wellness is undeniably probably the fastest growing and one of the largest conversations that are happening now. And I can certainly test to go back that Anna and I, even three years ago, talked about the fact like, wow, we really hoped for this, but wow, we did not expect this. Like, it truly has grown faster and more widely than I could have ever anticipated at that time. So how it’s going is mind blown. I don’t know, do you have a mind blown emojis or something? Right. But that’s how it all started.
Speaker 3: (07:47)
Wow. Yeah. Amazing. I mean, it’s kinda funny, cause Dee and I are one of a very few handful of teachers of color where we live like the, do you know any other black yoga teachers really? Like, I know you. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It still has not a hundred percent filtered down to where we are, where we have more of an awareness of race and culture within the yoga industry. The only industry here is still pretty, able-bodied still pretty white and still pretty. Um, exclusive like there are a few yoga studios out there that are really making the effort to be diverse, but it’s still a lot of, uh, I would say white women wellness where we are, but what’s really funny is you mentioned the yoga journal conference. And, uh, and I went to the yoga journal conference in San Diego and had a less than stellar .
Speaker 3: (08:41)
What’s the word I’m looking for? And less than welcoming a less than, I don’t know, it was just, it was something out of, I don’t know, Twilight zone. We went, I didn’t feel we were really well received. Uh, we did the panel, um, with a group of people, um, that we, I don’t know whatever happened to the recording from that panel. Remember they were going to record it and they were going to share it. And I’ll just kinda, it was like a one-off thing where they created a yoga journal cover of, Kathyrn Budig , just in a bad pose and called it or an a, just a bad picture of her on the front cover and called it the yoga and body image
Speaker 2: (09:25)
That came about six months later.
Speaker 3: (09:27)
Yeah. And it was really, it was when I look back on it now, it was really performative. And I just, I was just like, we left there feeling all kumbaya. Like we were going to come to this big change and everything was going to be great. And then it was as though at the time yoga journal, just like check the, check the box off their list and went back to whatever it is they were doing before. But what’s been really interesting to me lately is they’ve made a pivot. Like they’ve really made a change. That was the thing that we wanted the most, even Lululemon, like even, Lululemon ambassador, even Lulu lemon made a pivot. And like 10 years ago, when we were talking about this, they were so resistant to that. And now we just see a pivot. Do you think it’s a pivot?
Speaker 3: (10:15)
Because as we know, body image is like a trend, body image is always trending. It’s like a moving target. Like when I was growing up the bodies that were most beautiful and always in the forefront were very thin. Uh, as far as I remember, nobody had a booty and nobody had breasts. It was like very athletic built. Do you remember like, um, Cheryl Tiegs and Farrah Fawcett, they weren’t like these buxom blond people that we, that in today’s standards, standards, like Kardashians who have all been surgically enhanced. I think that’s pretty fair to say are now kind of the pure, like they’re they’re, those are the kind of the image that everybody’s trying to attain now. Tiny waist, big boobs, big butt, you know, like all the things that I would say are characteristic of a black woman’s body or a body that is of African descent now is considered like what people are striving for, because it’s always body. And there’s always this moving target. I’m just curious. How did we, how did the ball, what do you think about the pivot on yoga journal? What do you think about the evolution of body image as we see it now,
Speaker 2: (11:28)
Hearing you say that I’m like sitting there and listening, like, okay, I got that. I got that. I got to talk about, well, I think the first and the most simple thing that I’ll say, um, is just, you know, in talking about what is considered desirable, what’s considered attractive, right? Like anything else, it’s a complete social construction. And that any time that we as humans, we create symbols, you know, like this is success, this is beautiful. This is, you know, fill in the blank. And we attach those meetings. Those meanings are forged at a particular time and place. And the meanings represent truly the social political, historical and economic forces that are at work at the time. So, I mean, we can go back a hundred, 200 years and there’s tons of documentation and there’s tons of reasons why the, you know, the body does your, or the, the beauty type of, you know, that era is really reflection of cultural values the time.
Speaker 2: (12:21)
And those cultural values are, you know, again, tied in with the political and economic forces. And so while that may be a trend that we see out with so many of the changes and conversations that have happened, right. Um, it’s certainly not what is considered beautiful in all parts of the country, all parts of the world, even within that, there’s so much variation. Right. And then going to yoga journal, um, you know, that conference was in 2014. So three years into the work that we had started doing. And that was kind of, I would just say our big coming out, if you will, that conference truly was the first big public event that we did and, you know, um, it was, we’ve had Dianne and I specifically, you know, we’ve talked about it publicly before I’ve had a long contentious history with yoga journal that goes back to that particular conference because yes, we did walk in and, uh, with Dana Smith and I remember the three of us walking, the hallways feeling really uncomfortable, like, okay, this is a supposed to be a conference, you know, where we have this conversation, um, where we’re talking about aspirational marketing, what’s wrong with it.
Speaker 2: (13:27)
And, you know, really kind of, it was created as an educational forum for us to sort of inform Lululemon and Yoga Journal to a lot of concepts that were completely new to them, especially because the, uh, executive editor in chief at the time had come from a fitness magazine and undeniably then, and now we know that so much of the wellness imagery is influenced by the fashion and fitness injuries industry. So we were really trying to, you know, um, breakthrough some old stereotypes and some patterns and to, you know, kind of hold up and prop up a new paradigm of what it could look like and why this was healthy and why this was important. And we had incredible attendance with a couple of hundred people in that room who were very engaged and listening. And so, yeah, we left feeling like, okay, we really, we made an impact.
Speaker 2: (14:18)
These people had lots of questions. They were curious, they were excited. Uh, you know, the folks on the panel seemed really receptive. You know, the folks at Lululemon and Yoga Journal, we had some great meetings, um, over lunch afterwards that all the things we’re going to do, and to be fair, we did do some of that. We got, you know, several opportunities to create digital content and they promoted the Yoga and Body image book. And then, you know, that there was a moment where I was standing there at dinner, uh, and I thought to myself, Oh gosh, you know, the imagery here is so one dimensional that we were like, tokens here. Like Dianne said, this feels like checking off a box. What can we really do? And that is that moment where I was talking to a woman and I was like, you know, like the vanity fair covers where you pull it out and they’ve got all these different people, what does, if we do something like that and, and, and, you know, and she was like, yeah, kind of like the whole, you know, what a feminist looks like campaign.
Speaker 2: (15:15)
And it’s like, what a Yogi looks like. So I will say it was in that moment that our signature campaign and hashtag this is what a Yogi looks like was born. And after that, I went back to LA and we launched a t-shirt campaign. Um, that was, you know, this is what a Yogi looks like. And by the way, seven years later, those t-shirts are still selling and people are wearing them. And the thought was, people wear them and then we can post them on Instagram and cut through the clutter and make the statement. Plus the funds can be used to curate, um, photo shoots so that we can then be the media, if you are not going to do this, and you’re not going to listen to us, and we’re going to demonstrate to you what this could look like. And I got, I think, 25 to 30, um, yoga practitioners in LA together in a room of, I mean, the oldest person there was, I think 88 or 90 at the time, the youngest was six months old.
Speaker 2: (16:15)
And we had every background, every, you know, again, sexual orientation, gender identification, size, you know, race class, like everybody was there. And we took these photos, Mantra magazine, published them, which was really exciting. And, uh, from there, you know, it was like Yoga Journal had also covered that shoot. And so the next step was like, great. Let’s put some people on the cover hard stop. No, we were clearly ahead of the curve. And, and then in 2016, I think it was 2015, 2016 runner’s magazine put the first, a larger body runner on the cover, which was so revolutionary. And I remember I even went back to Yoga Journal. I was like, you know, we could have done this a year ago. This is what I was talking about. We could have been, we could have led this change. I mean, wouldn’t it make sense that yoga and about consciousness, but running, you would never, I would have never thought that a running magazine would have done that first.
Speaker 2: (17:16)
And now we see it, you know, an athlete like Christina Wherry a community partner here in LA Thick Girl, Yoga LA. I opened my athleta catalogs and her and her daughter in there, you know, it’s, it’s amazing to see. And, uh, that created this, we kind of were, um, I mean, I felt like we were just blacklisted to a certain degree. And third of all, sorts of co-optation started to happen of content of ours. And, um, I was, it was really disappointed and infuriated. And yet now I will say, you know, there’ve been quite a few handovers over the years, quite a few changes of the guards. And I think where they blend in now, I don’t want to be overly optimistic, but it really feels like there’s been a pretty big evolution. Um, and that it could appear to some people like, Oh, this, this is just happening overnight.
Speaker 2: (18:07)
Now they want to buy into these conversations about equity and, you know, body diversity and fill in the blank. But what I know is that this has actually been a process unfolding for seven years and they’ve made a ton of mistakes and there’s been a ton of conversations. And I will say that recently I’ve had several conversations with three or four different people there to really kind of vet the situation and taking my time because it is important for all of us to have our stories and to be represented. And yet at the same time, we have to temper the need for that representation and diversity with making sure that there is some integrity behind it. And it can be a really slippery slope at times because, you know, sometimes it’s like, if you , if you expect them to be perfect and you pull your content out, how does the content ever get out there? And yet at the same time, you don’t want to be handing over your content to people who are not going to respect and honor it, which was similar to when Dianne, we did some work for Gaiam, I think in 2015. And at the time the photographer Angus who really had this vision of having a lot of diversity represented called me. And I was like, Hey, dude, if we’re going to do this, you better not co-op our. And I was in the car
Speaker 3: (19:23)
When you had that conversation with them
Speaker 2: (19:26)
Really importantly, I know, I know it was really important to me because we had had enough stuff happen where these large corporations wanted to somehow erase the grassroots movement that brought this up in the first place. And I was, you know, Dianne as well. We were super careful about it. And you know, we’re, this is not, this is not a passion project. This is not wome side interest. You know, that we’ve had for me, I have been compelled to do this work for 26 years. Like this super important. And I don’t, you know, I think I’m safe to use some of these words right now. I was like, don’t around with our content. Like, I don’t want to see it cause we can go back decades. You know, whether we’re looking at various musical genres, whether we’re looking at counter-cultural movements of the sixties or even the riot girls of the nineties, it was pretty par for the course for corporations to look at that go, Ooh, this could sell really well.
Speaker 2: (20:21)
Let’s strip it of its political origins and just make it something else for people to consume. And it’s like, no, no, no, no. This is not about consumption. This is about truly having a new way of thinking and being a new way of relating a new way of creating and it’s really sacred. Um, so, you know, I feel like I’ve sort of, you know, been a caretaker of a lot of this. And with that, we’re at a point where I have been able for the last couple of years to let go, because there are so many brilliant people doing this work. I feel like this is in very good hands, that there’s no way that, you know, corporations or influencers are just going to strip this and sell it. Cause there’s too many guards, you know, we’re keeping watch and are making sure that this information and these practices and these skills and these tools are truly accessible to all and that we all get to benefit because we have a bigger picture in mind, this is about collective elevation, right? We want to make sure that we all have an opportunity to take a breath.
Speaker 2: (21:27)
I keep, I keep going back to you guys, get you guys getting so far. And then all of a sudden, there’s that halt. Where is that rooting from? Where do you think that roots from? Which halt are you talking about when we kind of got blacklisted? Yeah. Um, I think a lot of it was, I do think we were ahead of our time. I think we were thinking much bigger. I think they were comfortable. A lot of people were comfortable like sprinkling information in and you know, we had a feature, a couple of features, which made it seem like, Oh, here’s this fun little side thing, but yet the rest of the magazine’s going to look the same, but here’s this cute little thing happening over here. Whereas our vision was like, no, no, no, no, it’s not some cute thing on the side. This becomes the new normal right, where we don’t even have to have conversations about anymore.
Speaker 2: (22:18)
And I don’t think they were prepared to do that. I think, um, there was a lot of, I will say there was a lot of pressure financial pressure coming from the large, the higher ups because Yoga Journal right. Has always been well, not always, but in recent years has been a part of larger magazine conglomerates. Right. And so it was not yogis running the magazine. It wasn’t yogis who were putting together the magazines. In fact, at the time the yoga journal conference, several of the people that we were talking to, and I think there were five or six, um, didn’t even have yoga practices, but they were running this magazine. And I mean, I remember that we had lunch and I couldn’t, I couldn’t tell the people apart. I couldn’t remember who was this person, this person. Cause they all look the same. They were all thin.
Speaker 2: (23:09)
They were all white. They were all essentially the same age. And I was like, well, here’s the problem. The people behind the lens are these individuals. That’s why, that’s what we see in front. And they had never, it’s hard to believe now, you know, even six, seven years later, but they had never thought about things that we were talking about. They hadn’t considered them because they didn’t have to. Right. So I think the learning curve was just too massive at the time to, as other entities, you know, including Gaiam and Athleta And you know, all of these various companies that were really, and you’ll get international, which really, you know, forged a huge path for their, for their industry, there was almost like, Oh, now it’s safe. Other people are doing it. Which, you know, for me at the time a Yoga Journal was really considered to be the premier yoga magazine, like everything that was, anything was there.
Speaker 2: (24:02)
And it was just a reminder, right. That we can never just believe in one source or put anything on a pedestal because the truth was, they were really regressive. They were not revolutionary in any particular way. And they were given an opportunity to be that. And they just, uh, there was, there were too many moving parts that didn’t allow that to happen. And now that there has been this, you know, watershed moment, um, more and more people are jumping on because now they don’t have to be the first one and they feel safe doing it, which is cool. Um, but I would give a lot of props to Yoga International because if we compare, you know, them and at the time they were still a print magazine, they really they’re the ones that took the biggest risk. They’re the ones who are the most committed really, truly like they come from a place of integrity.
Speaker 2: (24:49)
They were very heart-centered. This was not about jumping on a bandwagon. This was not about being cool or cutting edge or being politically correct. They were truly all personally compelled that this was something they believed in. And they were also very honest. Like we don’t know what we’re doing. Like we’re, we’re afraid we’re going to miss step. Please teach us. And, uh, that was very different than, um, you know, the Yoga Journal at the time, which I felt kind of like a pariah, you know? I mean, I can say that Dianne and I had many, a tear filled, frustrating conversations with each other over the years. I mean, it was very emotionally.
Speaker 3: (25:27)
Yeah, it was very hurtful. And um, they have sent, um, been bought out by a different conglomerate and have changed their whole structure. And I feel pretty safe to say that, to say this, I got an apology from them. Um, the editor, uh, apologized to me, um, recently, uh, and we had a real emotional conversation and I was shocked. Like I had written the apology that I wanted to get and I never thought I would get that cause they hurt me pretty deeply. And when I was sharing with her, how I was very deeply hurt and she was like, I understand, and I know I wasn’t in charge at the time, but I do want to apologize my thought, wow, that was big. I think the shift has been huge. Like we have seen people actually step up and say, this is wrong. Like you and I 10 years ago would have never guessed that this would have happened like now.
Speaker 2: (26:23)
And the thing is that apology. Right? Cause I had a similar thing maybe six months ago where I was filling in some of the new people there. And they were like, wow, like I gave them the full history, including things that had happened with Dianne. And then, you know, just gave him the whole lowdown. They had no clue at all. Right. And there was also that apology, but yet they were the ones that were responsible. The truth is the people that needed to apologize five years ago, six years ago, never made that happen. And so I so appreciate, and I want to make sure that people know are listening to the podcast. None, none of the players that we were working with seven years ago, five years ago, four years ago, are in place at this point. This is a whole brand new team.
Speaker 2: (27:05)
None of them were part of that. And yet it is something to be said, like, thank goodness we’ve got, you know, some, we’ve got some new, new people in there who are really, really committed to, uh, you know, the heart of yoga, which is truly about union and, you know, accessibility. And like, let’s, let’s really have these conversations. Let’s raise our consciousness, let’s, you know, do right actions. Let’s make sure that we’re being held accountable. Let’s make sure that we’re checking in and really doing that work. Not only when it feels good on the mat or on the cushion, but like let’s really use this life and that’s not how it used to be. And um, so with that, it’s been an ongoing evolution and I am at a point and I’ve talked to Dianne about this over the years in private conversations. I am at a point where I would actually say I’m a little more forgiving. I was much more angry.
Speaker 2: (28:03)
It’s that? And also just seeing, um, you know, listen, people are gonna make mistakes. It’s not going to be perfect. And I think people need to be held accountable. They need to genuinely want to learn and people need to listen deeply and not assume that other people who share components of their identity have the same experience because obviously our experience is based on an aggregated, massive social locations. We’re not just our gender. We’re not just our race. We’re not just our class. You know, we’re not just filling the blank. We have a unique combination. And so we don’t want to just assume and project. We really want to listen. We want to check in with ourselves and along the way, we’re going to make mistakes. I mean, if I judge myself or anyone else did it by who I was when I started this work 27 years ago, I wouldn’t have gotten very far.
Speaker 2: (28:55)
Right. It would have been very intimidating, but I had room to make mistakes. We didn’t have social justice in the internet era and I was constantly learning and taking new information and, and it was kind of a safe place to do that. And I feel really grateful. And so I, one of I’m in a place where I want to allow people to the room to make mistakes, as long as they’re honestly committed, they’re genuinely open. They are doing the work. I am so happy, especially as a white woman to, you know, work as an ally and help other white people specifically understand, you know, dimensions of race and ethnicity. That is not the job of people of color to educate them on while, you know, doing intersectional, work around sexism and Ableism, like I I’m to do that and to create some new spaces and some room for conversations that might be hard for people to have now.
Speaker 2: (29:48)
So, you know, I’m forgiving and I’m also an optimist I truly am. And that is part of the reason I was a cynic for so long because when you’re an optimist, at least I know, let me just speak for myself as an optimist. I had to protect my heart with cynicism, the right, the disappointment, the, the anger, the frustration, um, you know, really built up where I had this calcified shell. And now as I’ve continued doing my own inner work, you know, seven years longer, I’m just in a different place too. And it feels really good. And so the whole with where we’re at is also, I feel like there’s just all there is this possibility and, you know, watching the inauguration in the United States on the 20th, I was like, this is the Renaissance. And if we look at the new Time magazine cover with Amanda Gorman and the Renaissance is black too, right? It’s like, it’s so beautiful. It’s so profound. I have nothing but joy and excitement for what’s going to unfold. I think it’s going to be beyond beautiful.
Speaker 3: (30:52)
I agree. I agree. I love that. We’ve had an opportunity to kind of let go of that, that anger, because I was angry for a really long time. And it’s kind of interesting when I get opportunities to say work with different companies that in the past I was like, you know what I mean? Never say never. And what was really exciting to me is. Dee, is a Lululemon ambassador. And I think it’s fair to say their imagery prior. Um, like when we’ve started out prior to now with that very homogeneous imagery, and now we see bodies like yours Dee like posted a picture on her Instagram a while ago, showing a before and after that’s a reverse before and after right. What she was striving for 10 years ago and what she looks like now, like how it started and how it’s going almost. And I was really excited to see you as an ambassador, some, a person of color, a person with a curvy body and person that doesn’t fit the, um, the standardized idea of what yoga looks like, that we’ve been living with for the past decade. How has your work been with, with Lululemon? Like, they’re very receptive to what you talk about it. Yes. Oh yeah.
Speaker 2: (32:05)
They’re fantastic. And it’s very refreshing to see again, you guys talking about your journey, you know, going back 10 years ago. I would’ve never thought the same thing, but at that point when I first started like buying Lululemon clothes, like obviously long before I was in ambassador, um, I hadn’t totally different body. Right. So I kind of fit into where they were, what they were gearing to. Um, but it’s, it’s been beautiful to travel along with them. And, uh, just, you know, being a part of the transition
Speaker 3: (32:36)
And have an impact because you go try things on, tell them how it fits and tell them what works and things like that. So it’s really interesting to have them change because when we were at the meeting back in 2014, I remember the regional manager, the district manager saying, you know what, we have demographic. And we aren’t really interested in making clothes outside of that demographic. And any other industry wants to go ahead and make clothes. They can do it. She said that specifically right out of the gate, it was wild.
Speaker 2: (33:10)
One thing that’s really fascinating. One thing you said about the anger, Dianne, right? Um, they with me, and by the way, I just, for the record, I know, you know, I’m sure you two agree as well. I think anger is so useful and righteous anger, righteous rage is so important. And yet the gets to a point where you can start to identify when it’s actually, um, really becoming destructive to yourself. When I was talking about that emotional labor and other things, I was like, Oh, wow, this is toxic. And it’s affecting me. And I’m feeling deflated. I’m not a good resource. Which part of like, okay, now I have to then channel this and use this. And, you know, and, and that’s part of, I think, coming to the other side of coming into possibility and, you know, looking at opportunity and being smart about it, but going okay, well, let’s, let’s, let’s create something with this.
Speaker 2: (34:00)
So that was a powerful shift too. I know for both of us, Dianne, the other thing, you know, and talking about the changes with Lululemon, and we talked about athletes, we talked about, Gaiam also, you know, you know, Nike and their mannequins and, uh, you know, Dianne and I were big Peloton people and that platform, man, they are the shit. They are like, I am so impressed all the time with their content. I’m like if I had ever created a, a fitness company, um, this, this would have been iBe like the way they look at fitness, the language, the, the accessibility, the, the, the, the talk around, meet yourself, where you’re at. Like, I couldn’t have imagined this back in my gym days when I was a young woman. And that would be remiss not to mention that Dr. Chelsea Jackson, who was in the first book, yoga and body image is one of their meditation and yoga teachers. They’re doing a whole black history month thing. They just did a Shonda Rhimes year of yes. Collaboration. They just do so many things. It’s been mind blowing. So I look at all of these things and I have to say, and I say, this is the most humble way. I have just the joy in my heart. And I almost have a tear in my eyes. And I think about it. I’m like we made the
Speaker 2: (35:18)
Habit and it’s just mind blowing because obviously there’s more players involved, but I’m like, we truly were the first ones who had an opportunity to publicly start these conversations. And it snowballed out in every direction where let’s face it. The, the, the stereotypical yoga body in many ways is completely outdated. At this point. It is so outdated that when I see it, I’m like, wow, you really just not keeping track. You’re just using what you’ve always used. And, uh, that, that is just so satisfying on so many levels. And so exciting to me because at change is coming from people it’s not coming from companies. It’s not coming from shareholders. It’s coming from people on the ground who are compelled and convicted. And it’s just, yeah, it’s fabulous.
Speaker 2: (36:13)
BeYon, delighted and beyond delighted. And I can’t wait when I ride my Peloton later to just, again, don’t get in. Like that platform would not have looked the way it does now. 10 years ago, wasn’t done five years ago. Yeah. A lot has to do with the language. Like you said, Melanie, the language. Oh yeah. That’s like, when you’re Robin, Robin and Tinunde, they are my gals. Right. It’s like, all right, you can add. And if you don’t like you, do you like then on low-impact rides, it’s like, don’t ever worry about the numbers. Just what does it feel like? I’m like, that’s right.
Speaker 2: (36:51)
Because I come from a massive gym background, Dianne comes from a master fitness background and it used to be, it’s so wonderful. I’m so glad young people are growing up. Is this because I grew up with something completely different and I had to unlearn it for many, many years. I was a personal trainer for years, spin instructor, you name it. I taught it. Um, and I remember, you know, 10, 15 years ago really trying to use that language because what I found helpful was I could relate to my clients that way, because I wasn’t perfect. And I was in my struggle. So, you know, you try to utilize that language and use that language in order to help them through their journey.
Speaker 2: (37:40)
I think it comes from, um, companies and instructors and people where it’s like, it’s always been like this perfection. Like, it’s been wonderful to watch that shift. And I’m a big thing with Leanne yesterday and lost my mind for me to divorce exercise from weight loss. And it makes me happy. It was like just pure joy day before doing it for the fun of being alive. Everything has shifted. And I know that you have pivoted in your work as well, around women’s empowerment and empowerment in general. Tell me how that influenced your transition into your new, into your new world briefly as you can and how we can find you in. Oh yeah, absolutely. Um, you know, big inroad for me was the body image conversation, because that was for me personally, one of the biggest obstacles to completely sort of self-actualizing as a whole person was, I couldn’t love myself while I hated my body.
Speaker 2: (38:55)
Right. So for me, that became the inroad. And for many people that I had worked with, it was like the gateway into empowerment was the body acceptance. And as that really is no longer that, but my main focal point, it’s still folded into my work. It’s like, well, what is the overall sort of integration of all the parts of us? Like, how do we really step into our fullness? So in many ways I would say I zoomed out a little bit in terms of my empowerment work for a long time, I was zoomed in to a particular area. So now when I work with people, one-on-one, it’s like, okay, there’s they all have different inroads, but they all lead to the nucleus of truly right. Empowering ourselves from the inside out. And so that’s, that’s just super exciting work. And it’s, again, it speaks to the fact that movements companies and individuals, we all evolve.
Speaker 2: (39:46)
And if we don’t, we’re going to be left behind. And so hopefully no one and nothing is going to look the same in a year or in five years. And that’s the exciting part too. And I would say having a long time friendship and, you know, allyship with Dianne, it’s so fun to also to see how we grow together and how we grow apart in what we can bring in. And, um, I think, you know, if more people can just be excited about change and diversity, their life’s going to be a lot easier cause that’s, what’s inevitable. Right? And so I would just leave it with that. And if anyone wants to find out more about the Yoga and Body Image Coalition, they can go to YBI coalition.com. I know you’re going to share my bio and there’s lots of links. Uh, Dianne is, uh, one of the contributors and the first book, Yoga and Body Image.
Speaker 2: (40:32)
Dianne’s on the cover of the second book, which is Yoga Rising, which came out 2018, third book, which is, uh, the book that came out in September of 2020 Embodied Resilience. And even that was the evolution of, I mean, it’s actually perfect starting with a conversation about body image and went to a conversation about how can we be agents of change when we, um, our, our, our, our kind of more accepting of ourselves, we’re not fighting ourselves. What does that allow us to do in the world? And then the third book was really kind of moving even further out. It’s like these tools really can empower and heal us, given that all of us have some form of trauma, grief loss, and like, how can we use this to elevate us completely? And so, um, I would encourage people to check out those books, too. They’re all books of personal narratives. And I find that the quickest way for people to connect is heart to heart. See another person as, you know, a full human being. And if anybody has any questions, please feel free to reach out. The coalition is a community platform to elevate, you know, voices that are not represented by mainstream outlets and, uh, be happy to publish people’s stories to feature them. And so it is an open platform and thanks so much fun, which I knew it would be so much fun.
Speaker 2: (42:00)
Thank you for being here. You can get all the information.
Speaker 1: (42:08)
Hey everybody, thank you for listening in to the two black girls. Talk about everything. Podcasts talking to my good friend, Melanie Klein, co-creator of the Yoga and Body Image, Coalition, something that’s been near and dear to my heart for a really long time. So it was great to catch up, to see how it started and how it’s going and how body image continue to evolve over time. And then we were moving in the right direction. So thank you, Melanie, for being a part of the pod. So thank you so much. If you enjoy this podcast, please make sure you like rate it and leave a comment on Apple podcasts, because it really does help more people hear our podcast and you want to get in touch with me. Dianne, you can reach out to me at my website, DianneBondyyoga.com, or you can find me all over social media at Dianne. Bondy yoga official. I’m most active on interest’s Instagram, but I’m on Tik TOK, Twitter and Facebook as well. If you want to get into contact with D you can check the out at Yogi underscore D on Instagram, and you can also check her out at her website website, Deevineintentions, D E E V I N E intentions.com. And we look forward to hearing from you and we’ll see you next time.
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