Body of Evidence
I really want the title of this post to be 'Body of Positivity' but I have to be honest here. It's not that post. It's the post that wants to be Body of Positivity when it grows up. Apparently, I haven't evolved that far yet.
As a belly dancer, I'm surrounded by gorgeous women (and a few men) of all sizes, shapes and colors. When they dance, I see beauty, I don't see size, nor gender. It's part of what attracted me to belly dance. I have never held a good opinion of my body. When I didn't have an ounce of fat on me, I found pockets of fat where there really weren't any. When I was about 15, I was convinced that my 98 pound body held too much fat in the pockets of my inner thighs...I stayed in half splits for 45 minutes at a time, trying to get rid of those pockets of "fat" to where I couldn't even walk for a few minutes after releasing from the splits. Men gave me unwarranted attention. I gained weight (lost it and gained it again) in my 30s--I do have a sweet spot, and I'm almost there right now, when I am a solid size 10. I've also been fat shamed. Right now I'm in that sweet spot (wallflower)/but a little too heavy to be healthy area. And, I dance. I have performed as a student dancer, but it really isn't performance I'm excited about--it's that free flow feeling when the rest of the world disappears and you are deep into the song, the beat, the movement, the flow. You don't care what others are thinking in that moment. You don't know anything except movement, flow and beat. It's not exactly runner's high, but it is very similar.
That said, I believe I will perform again. I don't bare my belly. I haven't done so since I was in my early 30s because that is when I started to gain weight. I modeled lingerie and swimsuits a million years ago, so I haven't always been this self-conscious. I have never been totally comfortable in my skin, but until I hit my 30s, I never felt I had any reason to feel ashamed. But then I started to get softer. Rounder. It's a rite of passage, some say. I've attained the goddess body, others say. As for me...I don't know what to feel. For me, I guess I just want to be comfortable and healthy. I'm not comfortable when others judge me, and it seems that is all that has happened my entire life. My body has never been my own. I want to be badass like my dance sisters and not care so much about societal conventions--I dance with women who have strong, lean bodies. I dance with women who are extra curvy to the point of being obese and society can be cruel to them. Doesn't matter what size these women are...when they are dancing, they transcend all of that superficiality and show the world how perfect they actually are. I currently wear a size 10 or 12. I honestly don't miss being a size 0, but I do miss being a 4 or 6. That's where I look back at photos and say--this is what I want to look like again. This is where I feel like I look good, and from my memories I did feel good then. I'm 51 now. I don't even know how a 4 or 6 would look on this aging goddess body anymore. I think I'm just going after a memory at this point.
And to my final point, why should I care how someone else views my goddess body? Why can't I dance, for the sheer joy of it, without my body conscience protesting? I bought a dance bra that bares some of my stomach, though it is tamer than most. It's my goal to dance in it--ideal body, or not.