For more of Maris, check out the interview I did with her HERE.

Within the first three minutes of watching the Netflix documentary “I Am Maris,” I was struck by how deeply I related to Maris Degener, and how much I wanted to wrap her up in a hug and tell her it will all be okay. If you’re a living, breathing, human being, you’ve most likely experienced hurt, trauma, mental health struggles, anxiety, depression, or stress. Yet so few of us are brave and vulnerable enough to talk about it.

We live in a world that takes pride in perfection. We all want to show that we’re happy, successful, in a loving relationship, healthy, adventurous, well-traveled, and motivated in our career every single day, that we never shed a tear or pinch our stomach fat or get dumped or experience grief or bad days.

In the documentary “I Am Maris,” Maris Degener shares her struggles with a life threatening eating disorder and mental health issues like anxiety and depression that surfaced while she was in high school. With a seemingly fearless authenticity she speaks about her story, sharing art and written work that shows the darkness she experienced before the second half of the movie brings the viewer into the light, her re-birth and recovery.

After being hospitalized for an eating disorder, Maris later found yoga studio “Just Be Yoga,” and this is where she found spiritual and mental peace throughout her recovery. She attended a teacher training at just 15 years old and became a certified yoga teacher. Maris has continued teaching and is now a mental health advocate.

Throughout her blog, there are articles that tell her story, that of an old soul with a strong desire to help people and bring about change. It’s full of calming photography, body positivity, her personal stories, and she shares her entire journey with her readers, warts and all.

Maris is vulnerable and asks the right questions, like “Is Body Positivity Unhealthy?.” In one poignant post from 2015 titled “Talk About The Shit You Don’t Want To Talk About,” (which she shares in the documentary) she talks about what she went through in dealing with her mental illness and the raw emotions that came with it, rather than trying to make life look perfect. Because life isn’t perfect and neither are we, which is exactly why so many people connected to Maris’ story.

She also posts frequently to her Instagram, which features photos of yoga poses or herself smiling, always accompanied by a caption that gets her followers to think about their own lives or the relationship they may have to their body. For example, ” You deserve every good thing that has come your way. You’re worthy of happiness, success (whatever that means to you), and pride in what you’ve accomplished. That little voice in your head that tells you it’s all a fluke, or a big coincidence? It’s lying to you. ”

Memorize her name because you will be hearing more from Maris Degener in the future, I’m sure of that.

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