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“I was swamped with emails, tweets and Instagram messages from women who were so emotional about seeing themselves in me,” says Erica.“Plus-sized women have been the brunt of jokes for too long.It’s a stereotype because it’s true: of the 64 per cent of Britons who are overweight or obese, most will be unfit.
Even now, I’m not exactly at the ‘loving my body’ stage.But that’s changing and more women are feeling comfortable getting out there and exercising, whatever their size. Being plus-size doesn’t mean you can’t work out, it just means you’re a plus-size,” she says, adding that rather than getting negative comments while she runs, she often gets hit on. “I run to clear my head and to focus – losing weight isn’t one of my main concerns.” Erica isn’t alone.Using the Instagram hashtag #curvyyoga, people like Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn) – whose pictures of herself practising yoga went viral – are proving that fit bodies do indeed come in all shapes and sizes.It didn’t help that the studio was mirrored and I remember thinking, ‘I look like an olive surrounded by pretzels.’ But afterwards, I felt great and realised I had a natural flexibility. I was hooked and as time passed my strength and stamina increased.“In the West, yoga has become something reserved for skinny, privileged women coveting thinner thighs.And she’s being joined by countless others, proudly selfie-ing their flesh in yoga poses.Indeed, exercise groups aimed at plus-sized women are becoming increasingly common, from Curvy Yoga to Fat Girl Running classes and Full Figured Fitness aerobics sessions.And while the “fit and fat” might still be a minority, it’s an increasingly visible one – online (#bodypositive), in the media, at your local running club or yoga centre. The 18-year-old model from New York is a UK size 18, but has been running for a decade.In July, when she appeared on the cover of US Women’s Running magazine, the international reaction was huge – and overwhelmingly positive.Diet: mostly healthy vegetarian food – although she loves sugar, chocolate and coffee. At only 4ft 11in and a size 18, I was bullied at school for being the fat one and the clever one – a double whammy.As a result perhaps, I’ve always battled with my weight and my perception of myself. In my very first class, I was 21 and the biggest girl in the room, covered in baggy clothes, surrounded by Lycra-clad size 6 or 8 women in tiny sports tops.