I first met Raquel Garner in 2012. She is an incredibly positive, over the top goof/powerhouse of nice-ness. Besides being a talented make-up enthusiast, Raquel is head-over-heels in love with yoga. She describes herself as a, “runner, wino, comedian, tree-hugger, sushi addict, music lover, art appreciator, book club AND knitting club member who still rides the bus and is single with 1 cat”. Raquel does what she needs to do in order to stay confident- and for her, that involves yoga, running, and veggies.
As luck would have it, knitting club yoga lovers tend to have some interesting friends (this is only an assumption– I’ve only ever met one knitting club yoga lover in my 19 years of existing). Arielle Zechoval is a professional piercer at Metamorphosis Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing. Arielle has a crooked toe, an adorable dog, the toothiest grin, and believes that “changing things that you are unhappy with to make yourself happy is totally fine, just as long as you aren’t trying to be someone you aren’t”. As a piercer, she believes in body modification, and the positive affect it has on those who choose to alter their appearance.
These two young women are best friends, and have grown into their separate passions together. Both engage in activities that help promote their confidence. Whether it’s countless hours of yoga, or a customer’s smile after they’ve been pierced for the first time, both Raquel Garner and Arielle Zechoval have found a source of self-assurance. In this week’s post, both talented, local women will take you through their stories to ultimate body-confidence.
Raquel has been practicing yoga for 10 years (vinyasa, hatha, bikram, moksha, ashtanga, acro). She is a certified level 1 hatha yoga instructor as of June 2012, a certified recreation facilitator as of May 2010, and a certified health coach as of September 2013.
“Body positivity means showing yourself the same kindness you would any other human being. There is something wrong with the world when self love is perceived as being arrogant. There is nothing humbling, endearing or cute about self deprecating yourself in order to look modest. It is certainly not arrogant to know your worth and view yourself just as you are- a beautiful human being.
Consistently feeling good about myself requires a lot of effort, just like it does for a lot of people. When I’m kind to myself, I am the most confident; that involves being consistent with my yoga practice, running, and eating my veggies. Doing things that are good for my soul, such as being mindful about my words towards myself and others, reading a book, taking a bath… These little things help.
I have struggled my whole life with self acceptance. I would avoid teaching (yoga) classes because I had unrealistic expectations of who I ‘should be’. “How was I supposed to teach anyone anything about yoga when I don’t weigh 105 pounds or have arms like Michelle Obama? No one will take me seriously if they knew I spent the other half of my time out with friends, dancing and drinking gin. And, I say ‘fuck’ too much! Guess I shouldn’t teach!” Thoughts like this would, and often still do, cross my mind, and it’s total bullshit. My body, my habits, my language; these are small parts of my being that make me who I am. Stay authentic, know your intentions, and above all be kind to everyone around you, especially yourself. And when all else fails, there’s always lipstick.
To me, yoga is the practice of facing who you are. It has given me greater insight into myself. I have been practicing yoga on and off for about 10 years. Sometimes life gets busy, and I become distracted and I fall out of practice, ut time after time, it always returns to me, and I never fail to fall back in love with it.
I went on a soul searching adventure in Bali with one of my friends to get our yoga certification. I was up at 5:30AM every day; yoga, meditation, kirtan, study… It was unreal. Because of the experience, I was much more confident with myself. I was grounded and completely accepting of who I am, and for the first time in my tiny little life, I felt like I was totally okay with being alone. This was a huge, pivotal moment in my life and a very powerful feeling: I had finally recognized my worth as an individual.
WOW! THAT’S HUGE!
With this new found confidence I took on more endeavors. I traveled to Nicaragua, teaching yoga at Papayawellness, a surf and yoga retreat that a friend of mine runs. It was the first time I had the guts to share my knowledge, practice, and energy with complete strangers. Knowing I have something that nobody else can offer them, and knowing that my teaching has value, gives me confidence. Recognize that everybody you meet has something different and special to teach you.”
TIPS FROM A PRO:
If you want to get involved in yoga, educate yourself- practice the 8 limbs of yoga. Yoga is not just a physical activity; it’s a complete philosophy and life style. There is so much more than asana (postures). Practice a little bit every day– whatever that means to you. Set your intentions every morning to think only kind thoughts. Go to bed at night and think of everything you are grateful for. Stretch, go to a class, sit in silence, and downward dog every damn day. Try a difficult posture and fall, and fall, and fall, and laugh, and buy the $90 spandex if it makes you feel good. Get your ass on the mat!
“Body positivity means feeling content in your skin. Changing things you are unhappy with to make yourself happy is totally fine as long as you aren’t trying to be someone you aren’t; that’s not cool. You were given this huge canvas to work with and play with. You can do so many things to improve it, so why not!? Why not add art on my body in the form of tattoos and piercings?! It looks rad, and I really do not care what anyone thinks about the way I choose to change my body. It makes me happy and that’s all that matters.
I do not look at all the things I don’t like about myself and dwell on them. I’m happy with the way I look. If I want to try to change certain things to make myself happier, then I will, but I’m not going to obsess over features in the mirror and cry about it, starve, or Photoshop every photo I’ve ever been in to make myself feel better; that is not confidence, and people can see that from a mile away. It’s the opposite of attractive to me, and I don’t want to portray myself as this strong woman on the outside, who actually lacks this amazing gift of self confidence on the inside. That is UGLY in my opinion.
If you polled 50 men, at least half would say that self confidence is one of the sexiest qualities in a woman. When I read Cella’s blog post about bigger women being ballerinas, it made me smile. Doesn’t matter if you don’t have a slim figure, if you want to do something that makes you feel amazing and happy, then fucking do it.
Becoming a professional piercer has helped my self confidence. I’ve grown so much during my time working at Metamorphosis Custom Tattoo and Body Piercing. I started out very timid, but eager to learn, and a little shy when it came to my personal style. Over many months of piercing, I grew with confidence in the sense that I can address any problem (with a piercing) and give you a solution without any hesitation. As far as my style goes, it took me a while to find myself and figure out exactly who I was, but being in this industry has helped a lot. I’m able to deck my body out with the most amazing body jewelry from around the world, and it leaves me feeling so jazzed when I get a compliment on the jewelry that I choose to wear in my face or ears!
I’ve always felt like I wouldn’t be complete until I had all the piercings I wanted, like my body wasn’t the body I wanted until I had fully transformed it. I would have never started getting tattoos if I didn’t work at Meta, or I would have never gotten my cheeks pierced, and I’m stoked that I ended up doing these things. (My body modifications) make me who I am. I’m surprised that I didn’t start getting tattooed beforehand; (my tattoos) are so gorgeous, and I get to wear others people’s art on MY body without it being basic clothing. That’s insane.”
TIPS FROM A PRO:
PLEASE research and educate yourself on which piercer you want to see. It matters so much. Not many people care who pierces them, and that’s unfortunate. This is your body, your canvas, your SELF. Would you let a surgeon work on you without having a highly recommended referral? Why wouldn’t you do the same with a piercer?
If you walk into a studio, and don’t feel confidence radiating from the person who is about to perform a procedure involving a needle, then you should turn right around and leave. The second someone that is sitting in my chair tells me ‘they trust me’, I’m immediately at ease. I need to feel confident in myself, but it’s overjoying when you hear someone tell you that THEY have confidence in you as well.
Both young women continue to move forward in their worlds.
They struggle with self confidence, but through the power of piercings, and the euphoria of yoga, both Raquel and Arielle continue their quest towards total body acceptance.
This is how this yoga instructor and professional piercer stay body positive.