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February 28, 2012

Body Image and Shape…Belly Dance Style

body-shapes-belly dance
body-shapes-belly danceYesterday I had a great convo with a friend of mine about weight, health, and body image as it pertains to belly dance. As a performer, I have met many women of all shapes and sizes, and with all sorts of outlooks about beauty and weight (which is a popular topic in this industry).

In America a lot of emphasis is placed on looks. It is a multibillion dollar industry and we have all been conditioned to think that the ideal beauty is someone that is tall, skinny, and etc… As belly dancers and performers, these ideals have really caused a lot of pressure on women here who just do not fit into this mold.  So deeply rooted is this ideal that some women go to dangerous lengths to try to reach this “look” even if it means destroying their health. Which brings me to two cases:

  1) The first is a beautiful, tall, blond I met who is super skinny. It happens that this woman, believes that she is “fat” as she calls herself. This woman I would guess probably weighs no more than 115 pounds despite her tall stature, and refuses to eat correctly because she feels she is not skinny enough! This girl is beautiful naturally, but unfortunately she does not see it anymore and is ruining her body/health.

2) My friend brought up the case of a woman she knows who is obese. Rather than accepting her curves, she overly praises herself and tells everyone she has the best figure in town even though behind all the humor she is severely unhappy and eating poorly and taking diet pills and other junk that simply doesn’t work. Some woman are large and proud but she is not, and pretends that she is proud only when in front of people.

Moral of the two cases? Women 1 is unhealthily skinny but tells everyone she is fat. Woman 2 is morbidly obese and tells everyone she is skinny. Both women refuse to really look at the issue here and accept the way they look. Their perceptions are quite distorted and their health is suffering for it.

As women we strive to look our best, that does not mean that we should strive to look like someone else who is of a super different and incomparable shape. If I had paid any attention to what someone ELSE thought I should strive to look like I would probably be quite unhealthy and unhappy as the “ideal” that we have been fed to strive to look like is physically impossible for me to ever attain.

It worries me when I hear women who are full figured say that they are too heavy and want to drop down to x size because that is what they are “supposed’ to fit into. I have met some gorgeous full figured women, and the pressure to fit into a size zero breaks their spirit. Some things are physically not healthy, and your height, genes, bone structure and etc… should be the determining factor of your healthy size range, not some magazine cover with a woman who comes from a completely different genetic make up. It is not healthy! The opposite is true. I have met a woman who was “flat as a board” as she called herself, got butt implants, breast implants, fat transfers, and now looks drastically different and is in terrible health and on her 6th surgery because she got an infection on her skin!

Weight is a sensitive issue here but generally, make sure you are healthy, make sure to eat well, and that if you are dancer you give your body the fuel it needs. I used to beat myself up because I was not tall enough to fit into costumes, and too skinny to fill them out. Then I just realized, I am never going to be 6ft tall, I am never going to gain the amount of weight to suit that type of size, and you know what?…that is alright, I just need to be happy with my physical/inner self and be the best that I can be.

Might all sound like nothing new, but when you in the fitting room or alone, what truly is your opinion of your current weight and health. We have to be honest with ourselves.

Hello, my name is Jennifer and I am 5′ 3″, short torsoed, muscular build, and proud. Some say I am too skinny to belly dance, I don’t care! Some say I am too short, I don’t care! I am who I am, and I make sure to stay healthy and take care of myself. Now go look in the mirror and love who you are! “Beauty” is what you make of it.

To learn more about me click here, and to see how we can work together and maximize your belly dance no matter what size, see my private belly dance classes page.

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