Who am I? My name is Lauren Rudick. I am an international yoga teacher. I travel around our globe offering specialty yoga classes, running retreats and teaching at festivals and conferences. Currently, my home base is a tiny beach town in Costa Rica. Basically, I live in my bathing suit. I surf daily, I teach yoga daily, and I practice yoga daily. I love to eat and sometimes I cry. I am a woman.
Instagram and Facebook have greatly helped launched my career, reaching and connecting with so many people from all over. For this I am extremely grateful! My life and lifestyle are quite public but I do my best to present an honest and authentic portrait of what a day in the life of a vagabond-hippie-gypsy-surfing-traveling-enjoys-the-finer-things-sometimes-has-some-mojitos-yogi is all about. I don’t repress anything, ever. There is no censorship of words, emotions, photos, nudity, or nasty days. I hope to inspire women to be real. Women should feel empowered to be themselves, to love themselves, to just be.
Not too long ago advice was shared via the internet on how to get a bikini body, à la Lauren Rudick. It was simple:
1. Get a Bikini. 2. Put it on your body. 3. Realize how hot you are!
The idea was to use confidence to “get a bikini body,” throwing away negative feelings of how women are supposed to look in bathing suits. The goal was to help re-infuse women with a bit of empowerment and bravery to get out and prance, strut or dance feeling more comfortable in their own skin.
To go with the piece, I used my own photo. Driving the notion that we should put ourselves out there and not feel shy or bad about our bodies.The majority of the responses were favorable but some commented that the article should have featured a photo of “a real woman” who is “less toned”.
I appreciate that these women think I have an athletic physique, I do practice vigorous asanas and enjoy being active, but I used a shot of myself to add authenticity to the article not to offer a suggestion of what a bikini body looks like.
In fact, I am curvier than many yogis out there. Often at yoga festivals I feel like one of the bigger women due to my substantial hips and twerkable booty. Insecurities occasionally surface due to my big thighs and thoughts that tell me maybe I need to lose a few pounds to better fit in to this industry as a teacher, have even passed through consciously.
A swift reality check soon sets in, realizing that I am just fine exactly as I am! I represent a healthy body type of a woman who eats mindfully but without restriction. I have never been on a diet. I have never tried to eat less than what would satisfy me during a meal. I have altered my style of eating to include more greens, grains, fruits, veggies and less fats and sugars. But this is not a diet. It just makes me feel good.
Still though, comments lingered, “You should have used a photo of a real woman!” and questions swirled… am I not a real woman? I have a vagina, breasts, I get my period. I am sensual and sensitive and feminine and strong, compassionate, creative, loving, capable and so much more.
What is a “real” woman anyway?
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone – especially women – would stop tearing one another down about what a ‘real woman’ looks like?! Every single woman that looks in the mirror sees a reflection of a real woman staring back at her! I am sure it is my genetics and chromosomes that determine whether I am a real woman. The number on the scale, dress size, breast size, ass size, jeans size, has nothing to do with my femininity.
Maybe the women who criticized my photo wanted to see a picture of an “average” woman? Well, I’m five feet tall, so certainly I’m not ever going to be average sized in North America. However, I would be average height and weight in China. If I headed to Sweden, I’d fall way short, where average real women are 5″6 and 147lbs (which would be a giant in Bahrain). But that does not matter anyway, because I am not an average woman. I never will be.
Why should we ever label ourselves as average when we aim to be extraordinary? Successful? Strong? I am human. I am a female. I am alive. I bleed real blood. I have real hair. I have real fat in certain places and real muscle tone in others. I have real bones and real teeth and real feet and toes…I know I’m a real woman.
My body looks as it does because of my lifestyle of health and wellness. My physique is a result of years of searching for a way of being that makes me happiest and finding it in yoga, adventure, mindfulness and healthy eating. I will continue to be active, because it makes me feel good. If this leads to a certain body type, so be it. I will continue to practice yoga because it feeds my soul. I will continue to eat as I like because it is fun! If eating healthy makes my physical appearance change, well that is a consequence of consumption, not an effort to look a certain way. I will continue to be me, a real woman out in the world.
I am just as real as any other woman. We all have feelings and insecurities. I have cellulite and wrinkles. I have areas of my body that I would like to improve and you might too. But I’ve decided to stop dwelling on those points and start embracing the real woman that I am. I highly encourage it!
I am who I am. I put myself out there half naked and un-photoshopped. No filters, no censors, just a real woman. Take it or leave it.
By Lauren Rudick