Why Jessamyn Stanley Is Teaching Yoga Naked On OnlyFans

"There are just not that many examples of what a fat body looks like with no clothes on."

Jessamyn Stanley
Jade Wilson.

Jessamyn Stanley is a modern multi-hyphenate. She writes, teaches yoga, hosts a podcast, and is the co-founder of a wellness app called the Underbelly. As a Black queer woman and self-proclaimed "fat person," Stanley's yoga practice and teachings center on acceptance, body positivity, and survival — and she shares it all with the nearly half a million followers she's garnered on Instagram. So perhaps it's no surprise that Stanley is launching an OnlyFans account on October 25, 2022. Her account will offer live naked yoga classes, Shibari (Japanese rope bondage) tutorials, and other NSFW wellness content, welcoming practitioners to join her in a "walk on the wild side," she tells Shape.

Stanley herself is entering the nude yoga space partly out of necessity (her content keeps getting banned on Instagram and TikTok, she notes) and partly to share the most "honest" version of her practice in the hopes that others will recognize themselves and feel accepted. OnlyFans, a UK-based subscription service primarily used by sex workers, will grant Stanley more freedom and control over her content than traditional social media apps.

There's a technical advantage to being in the nude as well. "When you're working on yoga postures, you want to get really specific," says Stanley. "And there are just not that many examples of what a fat body looks like with no clothes on, so I'm excited about being able to really get in there and point to specific body parts that, quite frankly, so many are not in touch with at all."

Jessamyn Stanley OnlyFans Naked Yoga
Courtesy of Angell Foster.

It's worth noting that naked yoga isn't exactly novel. Known as nagna yoga or vivastra yoga in Sanskrit, its origins date back to ancient times. But the current space — like much of the Westernized yoga world — has been predominantly thin and white. Stanley wants to change that, demonstrating how a healthy yoga practitioner can be successful no matter their size or race.

Beyond the utility of getting precise with form, Stanley is committed to combatting repression and shame through her work. Growing up in North Carolina in a conservative family, she felt ashamed of herself as a sexual being, explains Stanley. Yoga has been a salve and a motivator for her. "When I think of how I grew up and the fact that I never had conversations with my family — my mother or father — about sexuality or about nudity, it created a lot of shame," she says. "And I look at the people who are my age who are just trying to figure out how to survive this stage of humanity, and I think a part of that is just being able to have those hard conversations that we didn't get to have when we were kids."

Her new OnlyFans account is an expansion of the shame-eradicating work Stanley has been building upon for years, and she's been up against some vocal haters along the way. For instance, after Stanley appeared on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK for an issue focused on health and body positivity, Piers Morgan publicly ridiculed the magazine for "promoting obesity" on national TV. This kind of small-minded objection, if anything, highlights the importance of Stanley's work and her presence on a global stage. Her popularity has been steadily growing since she started sharing her yoga teachings on Instagram in 2012: Root 100 named her one of 2020's Most Influential African Americans of the year, and she's appeared in ads for major fitness brands, including Gatorade and Adidas.

Stanley looks to bold feminine icons as she embarks on this next project, she explains. The yoga instructor names Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner as two of her inspirations. She also looks up to Dolly Parton and Oprah Winfrey. "I don't remember seeing either one of them naked on OnlyFans," she says with a laugh. "But they both have consistently pushed the envelope and the conversation and have shown that even through the harder conversations that we have to have as a society, we still have to smile and laugh, and that we can still find love and joy."

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