Yesterday I felt a pressing need to cleanse my system, so I headed over to my neighborhood Bikram yoga studio. The class was good (though I’m fairly sure the room was at least a few degrees above 105), and I have the aching back muscles today to prove it. The instructor, who’s also an opera singer, was a total hoot. It was more like a stand-up act than a yoga class.
Anyway, after shedding my soaked workout gear in the dressing room, which the women have requisitioned from the men temporarily (and was appropriately cramped and dirty), I made my way out into the cool air. Walking beside me was a young woman who I’d heard the instructor say was a mere 16 years old. It turned out we were heading in roughly the same direction, so we walked and talked. Apparently this girl had been doing Bikram yoga since she was 14. Fourteen! When I asked how she got involved in it, she said something that broke my heart: “Well, I’ve really struggled with my weight …”
Argh! I wanted to hug her and whisk her away to the nearest ice cream parlor. She’s only 16 and already speaks with such pain about her body. As one who “struggled with my weight” for most of my formative years, I look back at my fourteenth year and realize what a pivotal age that was. Had I chosen not to “struggle with my weight” at that age and instead realized chubbiness was by and large an unavoidable aspect of adolescence, my life might be very different today.
I hope the parents of this young girl, whose sad eyes and soft voice made me want to cry, didn’t force her to confront her “weight problems” (and by the way, she had a great, athletic figure). I hope they tell her every day she’s gorgeous and emphasize the importance of her obviously keen intelligence and sweet spirit.