I’m in the process of working on a choreography for a Belly dance student showcase; I’m horribly blocked creatively but I have to say something. I love my body because of belly dance. I’m not a large woman, nor am I a small one. I’m average and I most of the time am happy with that. But I love my body because of it’s averageness for one thing; with a bare stomach, my undulations look amazing. It ripples and you can see it better because of the fat layer. I’ve worked on the technique enough that it reflects in my body as just plain pretty. I don’t have a full length mirror at home, so while I’m choreographing, I’m checking out how the moves look in a dark TV screen. It’s not a particularly flattering view, but all I’ve been seeing is the reflection of how I feel about myself.
I look good. Even after a half-week of eating nothing but quick prep, fast food and a pizza, and feeling more than a little bloated, I look good to myself.
A few months ago, I tuned in to the fishmongering gossips at work as they did their daily celebrity dishing. Now, I tune into this a lot, because it can be a lot better than doing my actual work and it keeps me visible and liked amongst my coworkers to listen. But I promptly grew disgusted as one coworker took apart a celebrity down to the size of her ankles, saying that “If she’s going to be going out and visible, she needs to not be so fat”. I found it shameful and did my own, saying everything I loved about the celebrity in the photo and vowed to watch my own body shaming and policing. My coworker rolled her eyes at me (something she does frequently. I don’t quite fit her expectations of how women our age should be behaving) and went back to scanning gossip sites.
Since then, my own self-image has improved. I still work to look my best, I work out and dance, and have gotten new clothing, but I’m focusing on my holistic health and appearance rather than a number on the scale. My yardstick is what I feel makes me look great rather than some other external number. And today, that yardstick was noticing my undulations. I’m pretty excited about them and the choreography now. Next up is backbends and the strength I am developing to do them.