And by Goddess, I mean the sizing they sometimes use for plus sized dancers.
At one point in time, I liked how they used “Goddess”. Because what are Goddess known as? Things of beauty, grace, power…And then the term started to bother me. I’m not sure why…maybe because it was like the clothing makers and vendors were trying too hard to make bigger items sound more appealing to plus sized women? I don’t know. Or because when one thinks of a diety, they think of something that encompasses all…I mean…my ass is big, but I don’t think it encompasses the entire world.
I’ve never been small…Well…that’s not completely true. There was a time when I was about 7 that I was your average sized child. I think I’ve pinpointed that time in my life for when things started to change for me. With out giving away too much about my personal life, I’ll just say it’s when I started to really figure things out in my family. I remember something my Nana always used to say to me…”Have some more spaghetti. It’ll make you feel better.” and “You’ll feel better when you have something to eat.” If it wasn’t spaghetti, it was a devil dog, or a cupcake, or jello, or ice cream. Somehow I think that whole feed the pain to make it go away thing is what led to me being overweight and my food addictions.
My weight became a real issue in middle school. I think that was the real turning point. Even now when I’m depressed or sad or angry, I turn to food. It’s a constant struggle many of us are all too familiar with.
I’ve tried to loose weight more times then I can count. At least three times a year I try and go on some diet, that never really works. Or it does for a short time, and I gain it all back by the holidays. This year, no different. Although with all the stress in my life, I’ve managed to loose like 12lbs in a week…that coupled with the meds for my back, I was either on the verge of throwing up, or couldn’t keep anything in my body…anywho…
I’ve never let my weight hold me back. I’ve never had a problem dating, and I’ve always thought I was pretty confident…but still there’s times I step on stage even after dancing for going on 6 years, and I still think “I’m fat. And that’s what they’re going to see.”
A little known fact about me…I always feel like I have to try extra hard, be extra good, go the extra mile, have the best costumes, wear the best makeup, because if I’m not on the ball on all other points of dance, it just makes it all the more noticeable that I’m not a perfect wispy little thing.
I’m not looking for pity. I’m not. This is something I’ve worked through as a plus sized belly dancer since the minute I stepped into a dance class.
Somedays, I sit back and think “I wonder how amazing I could be if I just lost weight. People could see my ab work…would I be as amazing as Zoe Jakes? As Rachel Brice? If only I looked like they did?” I try hard to tell myself it doesn’t matter, but when I can feel my muscles move under my layer of pudge, I know the truth of it is…more then likely yes. I’d be an even better dancer if only I could knock off 30lbs.
So how do I get by? How does a plus sized dancer manage in a world where the sterotype is thin? Well…like most things in life…you learn to get the hell over yourself and push forward. If belly dance is what you love to do, then do it. Don’t let anyone stop you, and even though it’s hard, try not to let what people are thinking bother you…Easier said then done.
First, I think we all need to sit back, and open our eyes. Look at your dance sisters. We come in every shape, and every size. Next time you feel self conscious stepping onto a stage because of your figure, remember that odds are? You’re not the biggest girl in the room. And even if you are, so what? You’re fabulous. You’re fabulous because you’re getting up and showing a talent you’ve been working hard on.
Next, I think we need to know our flaws and learn to balance out our bodies if you’re uncomfortable with yourself. What do I mean? I think I’m trying to say that you need to find costumes that work for you, and makes you feel like a rock star. Dress for you. Wear what makes you happy both on stage and off.
Lets use my own body for an example of how I dress on stage to make myself happy.
I’ve no hips. I’ve never had hips. It’s like…Belly on sticks…with boobs. I’ve got a fantastic ass, and big boobs…but no hips. One of the things I do as a tribal dancer to make myself feel more comfortable is I build myself hips.
This is extreamly easy to do with tribal, gypsy, and any ATS style.
Ok…ready?? When wearing a skirt over pants, take the hem of your skirt on either side and tuck it into your belt. Example…
I feel like it helps make my waist look smaller, or at least gives me the curves I lack in the hip area. I feel like it balances my chest out. Am I right? I don’t care. My point is, it’s what works for ME.
So, that being said. Find a way that you can balance out your imperfections that works for you, and makes you feel good. You feel like your chest is small? Make yourself a tribal bra and pad it. We’re not going to tell. Feel like you’ve got no ass? Bustle your skirt or wraps in the back. You can use costumes to help build your ideal lines. Get creative. (I’ll go into more about this in pt 2)
Lastly…Find a way to get over yourself, and get yourself on stage. You are beautiful, and the world is waiting for you to dazzle them.
I’ve never had a bad reaction from the public. Not once. I’m always approached by women of all sizes and told how beautiful I am, and what a joy I am to watch. When you love your art, it’s beauty flows through you, and that’s what people see an connect with. I’m told I’m bold, and brave, I’ve never been told by an audience member I’m fat. And I hope that it’s because my performance put that thought out of their heads…even if it’s what they first thought.
But who cares? Fat is a physical description, it’s not a measure of your worth, beauty, or talent. It doesn’t make you less interesting to watch, or less of a performer.
My heart breaks a little when I hear women say they’d never have the confidence to get out there and perform. Belly dance is all about building your self confidence, and I’ll always understand when a dancer won’t get on stage and show off their hard work, but I still think it stinks. I think all women are lovely, and the world should see them dance proudly.
Just remember how beautiful you are.
Be a Rockstar.
And lastly, if you’re not sure on how to get over yourself? My advice is fake it till ya make it. Start saying how much you rock. When someone says “Hey, that was cool of you!” say “I know, I’m fabulous! Thanks!” and then laugh and smile. It lets them know you’re not really that full of yourself. If you say something like that enough, you’ll start to believe yourself.