In the first week of the new year, I’ve moved into a new place with David and jumped right back into my NYC routine. Yoga, work, and lots of new artistic endeavors. Looking back on past years, it’s exciting to see how my priorities have shifted.
I love how yoga has given me a sense of community in the city and opened up the conversation with myself by setting aside a time and place to talk to my body. This week, an article was published by the New York Times, “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body.” Unfortunately, it was written in way that may turn people off to a practice that could otherwise benefit them. My reaction to the article about yoga-induced injuries has been to find a new pace, slow down, and let go of the pressure I place on myself to get into certain postures prematurely.
Just before the holidays I had a shoot for Marie Claire magazine where I was asked to demonstrate a couple of yoga poses. I showed up prepared with a firm grasp of the alignment in all the key power vinyasa poses, along with some arm balances that my boyfriend had taught me, but the magazine wanted me to keep it basic and accessible to the readers. I felt relieved and thought it was almost silly that I had been worrying about my poses. That’s not what yoga is about. I sometimes find myself in these ruts comparing my practice to peers’, wondering why I can’t iron out the kinks in my body out in ways that I’ve seen others do. I’m glad that the shoot was so reassuring, reminding me that there’s nothing wrong with taking my sweet time in finding postures, and that no one’s going to test me on a pose.
In comparing the experience from the shoot and the warnings of the article in the Times, I felt at peace and confident in the kind of yoga I want for myself in the new year.
While unpacking some of the boxes in my new apartment, I got a call that I had a catalog shoot in Chicago. I left my place at 4 a.m. Thursday morning, arriving to the makeup chair 715 miles away from home by 9 a.m. I looked at the freshly printed shoot schedule, and saw that I was on for two simple lingerie shots. The hair and makeup team has been given the direction of “sexy but not too sexy,” seeing that this is an All-American family department store we’re working for.
A familiar makeup artist began to prep my face, turning the chair sideways so that I couldn’t see my reflection, but allowing me to rest my head against the side wall. She said that having her models rest their heads back against a wall makes it easier to apply the products. She said it also chills us out. As she opened up some La Mer for my unimaginably dry skin, she added, “Close your eyes, I’ll take care of things from here. You don’t have to do anything now.” Funny how it sounded identical to something the teacher says in yoga class during Child’s pose. I’m always finding striking parallels between shoots and yoga classes. As I sat there listening to the latest news about her holidays and all that had happened since last time we worked together, I was completely mellow and relaxed. Before I knew it, I was being sent over to hair. There I was more alert, chugging some green tea and scrolling through emails while my locks were being blown out into large flowing curls. When the hair stylist was done, I was handed my “outfits” by the stylist: two pairs of modest underwear sets. When I arrived on set, I took off my robe and the shoot proceeded almost without interruption. As the camera clicked and wind machine blew cold air at me, I shifted side to side, hand on hip, hand off hip, arms crossed, arms raised, etc. Before I knew it, I was getting a nod of approval from the art director that I had wrapped my two looks. Soon I was headed back to the airport to catch an unexpectedly early flight back to NYC.
When I was in between my shots in the dressing room, I overheard a chat between the other models. I’m always interested in what other girls’ latest remedies are, what they’re eating, everything. A 19-year-old also in from NYC talked about how she needed to lose an inch off her hips. A wide eyed 15-year-old listened. I decided to join in on the conversation. “Do some yoga, eat more vegetables, don’t stress. If it’s right for you to be that size, it’ll seem obvious. But if you’re doing everything you can while remaining healthy, then there will still be a place for you at a healthy size.” I think it’s silly for girls to get so hung up on their numbers, when I’ve found it’s so much more about health. Just be honest with yourself about what your body needs.
I’ve been the working 100 pound model, as well as the working 130 pound model. And now that I’ve found a middle ground between those sizes, I’ve found more of a balance in my life. I don’t keep track of my weight as much as I keep track of my lifestyle. There’s been so much hype over models’ weight and size over the years, but when I’m confronted face-to-face with impressionable young girls, I always stand by my belief that extreme diets do not promote long careers. Many models believe that success must be costly and can only be earned through extreme sacrifices. I felt obligated to share my views with the girls in the dressing room because I want them to feel like there’s so much more to being a good model than your weight. It’s how you treat yourself, your clients, your bookers. Your attitude and lifestyle are often more visible than your weight or an inch in your measurements.
In the new year, I’d like to be the change I see in my community and share what I’ve learned on the mat as well as on set.