Belly-Shaming

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I know, it’s been ages since I’ve posted. Since moving and getting re-settled I’ve felt very uninspired to be honest. No job means no money for classes means unhappy dancer. I recently drove down to Tampa to visit my “shimmy soul mate” and work on a project we have coming up in Sept. A conversation with a dancer we’re taking into our troupe had me flat out angry! And I felt I must blog about this!!

Our new member took classes with a woman we’ll call Joe. Joe runs a studio. Joe would have a really fantastic story about cancer survival and leaving your job to do what you love and are passionate about if Joe hadn’t turned into a complete bitch.

Joe is skinny, and if you’re not the same size as Joe you shouldn’t be bellydancing. Joe doesn’t let overweight girls perform, and she talks badly about them behind their backs to her other students, keeps putting them down, and thinks they have no place in bellydance…but she’ll sure as hell take your money for classes. You can forget about performing though.

Joe puts girls down SO much that some of her students get weight-loss injections.

What really got to me, was Joe being in charge of the BDSS show in her local area.

Now, I need to say, our new member isn’t fat. She’s a normal sized woman, there’s nothing wrong with her…and whoo boy! You should see her ab muscles when she dances! She’s a very talented dancer, and this story was just…outrageous.

When the BDSS came to town, our new member was told to apply for the show. She met the requirements. Local Dancer, Professional, Performs often… Well she met the requirements set by the BDSS…

She received a letter back from her former teacher stating the following:

-She wasn’t taking enough classes at the studio Joe ran.

-She wasn’t skinny enough.

1. It’s not a per-studio show. It’s supposed to showcase LOCAL TALENT.

2. HOW DARE SHE.

It would have been one thing for Joe to nicely say she didn’t think her former student was ready, but to call her fat? Saying she needed to focus on her body? Hell no. I asked if the email still existed. It did. I then suggested the BDSS be contacted and made aware of this situation because…

1. She’s restricting the Gala show to only people in her studio. This is NOT a variety of local talent. Unfair treatment is being given to those in her studio and the rest of the community is being shut out.

2. The BDSS need to be made aware that the person representing them puts others down and makes women feel bad about themselves. This is not what bellydance is about.

What also pissed me off was a little story she told me about an event.

My new shimmy-sister attended a workshop where there was a photographer…who followed her to her car and would not leave her alone. THIS IS NOT OKAY. When she contacted Joe about the situation, Joe defended the cameraman, said he wouldn’t do something like that, and she must have been flirting with him earlier to make him think he could follow her out.

THIS IS WHAT WE CALL RAPE-CULTURE. THIS IS NOT OKAY!!

Even if she had talked to the man and flirted, he should NOT have followed her to her car, and he should NOT have continued advances when she said she was not interested.

This is the “You were clearly asking for it” mindset. The thing girls are told when they are raped…this is seriously not okay to tell someone!

To add insult to this, when Joe gave her reply, she made my shimmy-sister feel worse about herself. The attitude on which Joe approached this was “Oh. He’d never do that because he’d never hit on you when he could hit on someone skinny like me. You must have done something to make him think he was going to get to sleep with you.”

My reply to this story was rather nasty…I do believe I tossed around the word bitch…and made a couple comments that I only reserve for women who put others down.

I am so…so angry about this.

I’ve heard from more than one dancer about this woman, and how she makes bigger dancers feel out of place, like they’re her “Fat back up dancers”. How she has an elitist attitude, and even if you join her improv-dance classes, you’ll never perform with her troupe…maybe 7 years down the line or so. Maybe.

This is NOT what bellydance is about. This is not what we build when we start a dance community…although there seem to be so many dancers in that area of FL, it seems the true community is very lacking. I’m sad no one stands up for each other, no one has told this woman what she’s doing is wrong, and that makes me very sad. :(

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7 responses »

  1. I came here because a Facebook friend posted a link to it, and I am just as outraged as you are. What a horrible person Joe is, her behavior is disgusting. She has no business being a teacher of anything. I hope your side wins.

    • I like to make others aware of bad situations so they can learn from them and not do the same, or know that it’s NOT a normal situation and to remove yourself and find a better place.
      I hope Joe comes to her senses down the line and turns herself back in the right direction again.

  2. That is really too bad about the dancers, but hopefully, they find someone else to perform with. As for the photographer, I understand coming on strong, but if you’re following someone to their car… you’ve gone too far. Following people, as a general rule, is just a bad idea. I’ve been followed once before, and if I had had a gun I would have the shot the guy. I have a Derenger I keep with me now. Just in case. It was really scary.

  3. That’s terrible behaviour, it makes me sad that someone with that attitude can enjoy any amount of success in our field :( I hate to think of all the talented dancers being held back because of this kind of prejudice…

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