Yami Msosa: anti-violence educator and activist

I’m a dark-skinned, Black, full-figured femme. For many years growing up, I hated myself. I did not look in the mirror for a very long time because I did not like what I saw. Internalized racism, homophobia and sexism – all of those things play a part in how we view ourselves. Even the most critical, social-justice-orientated people constantly struggle with their bodies.

Last January, I started the journey to become a yoga teacher. During the six months of training, I broke down every other weekend. A lot surfaced but I was committed to working through my body issues. If the guru I was working with asked me to get into a pose and I couldn’t because my tits or belly were in the way, I would, by default, think about the ways I could correct my body as opposed to accepting where my body was.

It was a huge shift when I came to recognize yoga as a spiritual practice. It wasn’t about fixing my body it was about connecting with it and with others. I developed classes called Bodyfull Yoga for full-figured people, and I’ve also been able to use yoga to support survivors of sexual violence by leading classes that empower bodies.

As someone who does activist work, I often ask what it means to hold space and to centre love for ourselves. It means being honest with the trauma we’ve experienced, and that it’s okay not to be okay. I think that’s particularly hard for Black women. We carry this internal narrative that says we always have to have our shit together, and it doesn’t really allow us to take care of ourselves.

I want to hold space for little Black girls. My niece passed away before she was born in September. I think she would be proud to see her aunt putting herself out there in a way that’s spreading body positivity. My other nieces are 12 and four and have experienced racism and sexism. 

They don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through. The world is going to make them believe that something’s wrong with them because of the colour of their skin or because they don’t fit an ideal, but I want them to know they’re not alone in how they’re feeling. I want them to live in a world where they can truly appreciate Black girl magic.


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See last year’s Body Issue here.

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