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Courageous Company with Anna Guest-Jelley: Why Wearing a T-Shirt Might Have Changed My Life

Thursday, July 31, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

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Courageous Company with Anna Guest-Jelley

As we gear up for the next round of 30 Days of Courage: a guide to bravery in action, (registration closes on Friday & the course starts Monday) I’ve invited some courageous friends to join me in exploring the small steps and choices that add up to a brave life. Find the other Courageous Company posts here.


 

Anna Guest-JelleyPhoto credit: Vivienne McMaster

T-shirt: Feminine Funk

Do you have nemesis clothing? I do — and plenty of it. But the top of my list?

T-shirts.

I mean, is there anything so unflattering yet so ubiquitous? High-necked, boxy, tight (or way too loose)-armed, often stiff-fabric-ed.

It’s hard for me to find much to like.

Yet I recently found myself wanting to wear one each day over a weekend where my body would be on constant display in front of 50+ people.

Body Positive T’s

As a bigger-bodied woman who teaches body positive yoga for people of all shapes and sizes, I consider part of my work to be not hiding my body. For my teaching that means wearing things that hug my curves, even the ones I might otherwise be reluctant to bring into the spotlight.

I’m looking at you, belly.

So for this particular weekend, I had three cute, body positive t-shirts I wanted to wear. They were made of softer material than most (thank goodness!), and while they had high necks and somewhat uncomfortable arms, I was able to DIY it and amend them so they’d be more comfortable.

Good to go.

Except, that soft fabric laid right on my skin. It was like “Hello, belly” central, as far as I was concerned.

And as I looked in the mirror, I started to feel a flush of heat from the pit of my belly up to the top of my head.

I’m quite familiar with that feeling because it’s my guaranteed indicator of a particular feeling: shame.

Next Stop

As I continued to stand there, I could feel myself about to fall completely into the shame pit. The negative voices started their chorus and I began wondering why I’d even thought I could pull off this event in the first place. This is, of course, how shame works. It’s a shockingly quick hop from “What’s with this t-shirt” to “I am worthless.”

But then courage kicked in.

I felt my feet on the floor and placed one hand on my heart. I pulled myself out of the cycle and into my body. I focused on what was actually true: that the t-shirt was, admittedly, an innocent bystander. It didn’t have to be responsible for making me feel so badly.

But neither did I.

I could let us both off the hook and come back to this moment, where the reality was that I was 20% nervous and 80% excited about the event. I could just acknowledge those feelings from the inside, staying connected with my heart, and move forward — and have a wonderful time.

Heart

And that’s how I knew for sure that courage had kicked in. Because the original meaning of courage is with heart,and that’s what I’ve learned (usually the hard way!) it takes to move towards an accepting relationship with yourself and body.

It’s no once-and-done proposition, but rather an ongoing practice of coming into the moment and choosing, with heart, to stay with myself.

And totally rock a “Super Thick” t-shirt, obviously.


 

Anna Guest-Jelley by emily-gnetz-150x150Anna Guest-Jelley is founder and CEO (Curvy Executive Officer) at Curvy Yoga, a training and inspiration portal offering classes, workshops, teacher trainings, retreats, a virtual studio and lots of love and support to women of every size, age and ability — in six different countries, on three different continents, as well as in over 30 of the United States.

Anna is a writer, teacher and lifelong champion for women’s empowerment and body acceptance. Author of, “Permission to Curve: Inspiring Poses for Curvy Yogis & Their Teachers,” and co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, Fall 2014), Anna has been featured online and in print at The Washington Post, xoJane, US News & World Report, Southern Living, Vogue Italia, Yoga International, Yoga Journal, CrazySexyLife, The Daily Love and more. Visit Curvy Yoga online at CurvyYoga.com.

Photo by: Emily Gnetz

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