Are you your Body?

6 questions:

To offer you (and ourselves) a broader perspective on the topic of body image, we reached out to friends of TFY: two yogis and two Gym goers/personal trainer and asked them to talk about their relationship with their own bodies and the judgements they make on other people’s bodies.

Meet our friends

Mariska is a curvaceous yoga teacher, who practices yoga regularly for years and just has given birth to her first son. 

Nurdin is a full-time personal trainer and nutrition coach in Amsterdam. He trains 6 times per week and does not do yoga.

John refers to himself as overweight, he has practiced yoga 2-3 times per week for 15 years and doesn’t go to the gym.

Wendy is a very enthusiastic CrossFitter. She is a yoga teacher and a kickboxer.

1.Do you identify with your body and does your body define who you are?

Mariska: Part of me is my body- it helps me be who I am. It can give me self-esteem, insecurities, strengths and weaknesses: it lets me down or lifts me up. It’s like a love hate relationship. We are working on more love and less hate.

Nurdin: My body definitely defines me. I see myself as a strong and relatively fit person. Without a body to match my identity would change.

John: Obviously, my body is the only real thing in this life that I possess right?

Wendy: Yes, I identify with my body, my body tells me who I am and how I feel.

2. Is having an athletic body important for you and why? 

Mariska: Yes, I love to have an athletic body. I don’t have it at the moment and after the birth of my baby I find it hard to rest and exercise and I miss that. I love the feeling of having a strong and fit body.
I like the way I look more when I’m fit. But what is an athletic body? That’s an interesting question…

Nurdin: It’s very important to me. It gives me confidence. Both personally and professionally. And of course, regarding the opposite sex.

John: I don’t have it but yes I would love it! I know its superficial but people react on it, and I admire that when I see that happen in the gym. And I think its beautiful. 

Wendy: I have (in my opinion) an athletic and muscular body. I’ve always been sporty and my hard work shows. It’s not only that I like how my muscles are visible, the lines and forms, but it’s a sign of selfcare. You cannot look athletic without eating good and healthy. 

3. How do people react when they see you on the beach, or without a shirt on?

Mariska: I don’t know what they think, but I don’t’ see a reaction that is different than when I wear clothing.

Nurdin: That doesn’t happen super often, but I do get some stares. Or the people whom it concerns, like my girlfriend likes it- haha.

John: I’m overweight and I don’t take my shirt off in public, and since I’m so white I wear a shirt on the beach too… however I know that people can look at you, with a face of “you eat too much”

Wendy: Not everybody likes it and some think it’s intimidating. But people admire it too, they know how much effort and discipline it takes to look like this.

4. What is your first honest thought if you see a person with a similar body type to yours?

Mariska: I love it, I feel more comfortable.

Nurdin: “That guy/girl must workout”. I usually analyse their bodies. But I do that with loads of people. It’s one of the first things my brain does when meeting people.

John: “You’re too fat, you should take more care of yourself”

Wendy: The first thing I feel is a kind of connection. The fact that you know what to do to look like this. Eating well, sleeping well, limited alcohol and appropriate training.

5. What is your first honest thought when you see a person with the opposite body type to yours?

Mariska: If it is the skinny or muscly type, at first al little negative, you can call it jealous. But after a view seconds I say to myself that every body type is just a type of body and beautiful and strong in its own way.

Nurdin: That person should workout and eat less. When someone is really big I usually feel some sort of pity to be honest. A part of me would like to help them and a part of me knows that if someone is really big then there usually is a number of complex reasons why they are like that. 

John: I guess I’m a bit jealous.

Wendy: I don’t really have an opinion, everyone has their own hobbies, work and interests. Not everybody wants to have a muscular body, but how healthy they are, I question that. It all starts with good and healthy food. 

6. Could you be physically attracted to a person who has an opposite body type to yours?

Mariska: Yes, but my husband is kind of the same type. I think it helps us understand each other and feel more comfortable with each other

Nurdin: No (as in overweight).

John: Oh yes, I’m very attracted to that, my boyfriend is the opposite to me. I’m totally not attracted to guys that look like me.

Wendy: I always feel attracted to sporty guys, a man doesn’t have to be muscular (it’s a nice addition though). It’s all about a sporty and healthy lifestyle for me. I love sporty people whose focus is to take care of themselves, on the inside as well as the outside. My lifestyle fits better to an active person than with someone who doesn’t like to workout. For me it has much more to do with interests than looks.

Thank you guys we are very happy with your honest answers!

We are curious how you would answer these questions. Care to share? Write them in the comments below!

The author:

Marcel van de Vis Heil is based in Amsterdam and one of The Fat Yogis founders.

Marcel has been practicing yoga for over two decades, starting his journey with Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and Vipassana meditation, moving into more static, alignment-based styles.

He continued his practice and path with yin yoga’s founders Paul and Suzee Grilley and is now spreading the message of functional yoga and his knowledge of the human body across the world as both a personal trainer as well as a yoga teacher.