Jessamyn Stanley is an author, a yoga teacher, and an advocate for body positivity. Her Instagram posts about doing yoga as a “plus-size woman of color,” which she called a “fat woman” and a “queer woman,” got her a lot of attention. Full Body Yoga: Let Go of Your Fears, Get on the Mat, and Love Your Body is her book.
She has lived in North Carolina her whole life. She tried gymnastics and cheerleading in middle school, but she didn’t like the varsity team, so she stopped for a few years. She was on the high school flag football team.  She came out at 16.
She has a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies with a focus on Video and Film Production from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also has an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts from the Raleigh-Durham Institute of the Arts and two-thirds of a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts Management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Stanley tried yoga for the first time when he was a teenager, but he didn’t like it.   When she was in her 20s, she went back to yoga to deal with her depression. She found that she loved the practice and that it challenged her in ways that helped her.  In 2012, she started posting photos of her yoga on Instagram so she could get feedback on how she did it. She has a following because of her “body-affirming, all-inclusive” attitude and because she has shown that yoga isn’t just for “skinny girls.” Stanley finished the yoga teacher training program at the Durham Yoga Company.
Her yoga practice is based on how it makes the person feel, not how it makes them look. She disagrees with the idea that fat people are “slow and weak” and wants people to think instead that “strength comes in all shapes and sizes.” She teaches yoga classes online, in person all over the world, and in Durham, NC, where she lives.
Yelena Alpert wrote in Yoga Journal that Stanley’s work “changed the perception of what a yogi looks like.” In an interview with Jenna Wortham of The New York Times in 2017, Stanley talked about how the internet makes it possible to connect with large, geographically spread-out audiences. He said, “There’s a niche community that’s looking for a yoga book written by gay, fat, black people. You just have to figure out how to reach them.
In 2016, she had more than 200,000 people following her on Instagram. In 2018, she had 350,000 followers. In January 2019, Stanley was on one of two yoga magazine covers. The other cover was of a thin white woman, which caused a backlash. Stanley later apologized and said that the magazine’s brand director had quit.