This post is inspired by a new member of the ballroom community. Miss MyBelle940 has been dancing ballroom for two months now and somehow found her way to my blog. She’s going to be dancing in a showcase in a month and I know this because she also started a blog. Anyways, she asked me a question this morning, and I thought it was a topic worthy of its own post. It’s one I’ve often thought about and struggled with…especially after Desert Classic. Should someone like me dance?
Well, first off, we have to address the question of who is “someone like me.”
In this case, the “someone” MyBelle940 was describing was someone I could totally relate to. She wrote:
I was hoping maybe you could offer some inspiration on how you deal with not being the typical dancer build… I love dancing but sometimes it feels like people like me (not just my size but my overall uncoordinated-ness) shouldn’t be dancing… I’ve had a lot of problems with this lately and it’s gotten me down even during class.
I mean, isn’t like a lot of this blog about me working through all the mental quicksand that pulls me down and makes me feel like I’m not worthy to dance? I know, intimately, about what she speaks.
But, I also know this. If it is in my heart to dance, then I should dance. Period.
It took a while. It felt like a lie for many months. But my truth is that I am a dancer. However I may be packaged, it is who I am. It is a part of me. It is in my heart. Therefore, should I dance? Yes. Even more so.
And really, who has any right to ever tell me that I should or should not dance. Only I have that power. Only I permission myself or hinder myself. Others may mirror my own negative thoughts (and positive ones too), but neither will affect me if I am firm in my own belief in myself, my worth. If I come from the place of knowing I am a dancer, then I am unaffected by what others may think. That is their reality, not mine.
But all too often, I make up really nasty stories in my head. Sometimes people will say or infer things that seem to make me right about how I shouldn’t dance, that I’m not a dancer. It agrees with my concept of myself. And pendulum swings. My does it swing widely…from being a piece of dirt on the foot of a cockroach, to being an amazing, luminious goddess. I guess, in reality, I am both. And, I’m just trying to find that middle path, the balance between the two extremes.
So, being clinically obese, some might say that I shouldn’t dance. That my lines are not clear. That I look funny. That I’m ridiculous. That I’m ugly.
Maybe she shouldn’t run either click here:
I particularly love her response. Please take the time to read her comments.
And I guess that pretty much sums it up, you know?
The only one who gets to say what I should and shouldn’t do is me.
So should you dance, whether in the ballroom or in life? You have your own answer. But I bet the answer is yes.
Dance, sing, move, whatever makes you happy.
I am glad that you wrote this, but I hate that in today’s world we question others motives. I am the first one to say I may look ridiculous doing some of the things that I do, but if they make me happy, who cares! I know it is hard to be looked at and questioned, but I have learned over time that life is too short to worry about what others think. I am a plus size woman….working on it, but I have and will ALWAYS have curves…I am under no delusion that I will ever be skinny. I have figure skated competitively, taken belly dancing (which was more fun than I thought it would be) among other things. These things made me happy and no one was injured by me doing anything, whether they liked it or not.
Small tangent, but this makes sense in my head…..I was told once by a friend that I could be a pretty woman…..it hurt and for a couple of days I was dazed and wondered if that was what everyone else saw of me…..that I COULD be something. But that is the problem, I was looking for someone else to define me and where is the benefit of that? I don’t think I am beautiful, but I DO believe I am pretty and special, because of who I am and what I do and how I treat others. I have good days (when I look damn good) and days that I don’t, we all do – we are human. But my point in saying this is it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks. Your happiness is what is important, no matter how you are packaged. Believe in yourself and your worthiness. If you want to dance dance, if you want to sing off key sing, enjoy the ride as we only get one and at the end of the day you need to be able to answer were you happy with what you did. Don’t live with the regret of if I only….
Well said, Kim. It is my intention to come from this empowered space at the next competition. Like I said in my last post…F ‘EM! I’m incredibly inspired by Janet, that’s for sure. She’s totally doing what makes her happy and I love her passion and positivity. This time around I’m going to create that experience for myself too! No more giving my power away to what others may be thinking of me. That just sucks, like you said.
Thank you for posting this Stef – and the links. Inspiring and yet sad (as Kim said) that at this point in time people still feel the need to judge. Too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too young, too old…. what is ok? What is good enough? Who decides? IMHO it can’t be someone else who sets the standards for everyone – that just isn’t possible. It has to be self-acceptance that we give ourselves.
(First off, I’m laughing at myself because I had to Google IMHO…lol) and yeah, where did I pick up all these ideas of what is okay and not okay about me? What is it that makes me “acceptable” “good” “beautiful” etc, etc. or makes me the reverse (unacceptable, bad, ugly). Who made up these definitions? Quite a Zen discussion you’ve opened up here, Ellen. And I do agree, we must provide the self-acceptance for ourselves. Sometimes easier said than done, but there you go. Wise as always, my friend.
LOL (or ha ha as we used to say!) I actually have something like two pages of abbreviations that I had as a “glossary” when my site had a forum for a while. If you ever want to do a “detour” post I’ll send them to you! As usual – I have no answers – just questions…
If you’re walking, breathing, and have a desire to do so, then of course you should dance. (Look up west coast swing champion John Lindo on You Tube. He’s no Ken doll, but he’s amazing and women line up to dance with him.) Compete only if YOU want to….the desire to dance, and the desire to compete (which does involve being judged on looks as well as skill) are two totally separate drives.
Wiregrass Westie, you make an excellent point. The drive to dance is separate and different from the drive to compete. It really got me thinking. Thanks for bringing it up. And, I’m curious, can you explain your tag name? I get the Westie part, but not the Wiregrass. Thanks!
The area I live in is known locally as “The Wiregrass”. Wikipedia describes it better than I can: “The Wiregrass Region or Wiregrass Country is an area of the Southern United States encompassing parts of southern Georgia, southeastern Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. The region is named for the native Aristida stricta, commonly known as “wiregrass” due to its texture.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiregrass_Region
A couple of thoughts. People WILL judge. A) because judging is an inborn system that has helped the species survive. The question remaining is whether or not they will be mean and nasty about their judgement. B) because we have put ourselves into a judged sport that has clearly defined rules for appearance as well as performance standards. Why? We each have our own reasons for that, I suppose. My stock answer is that my husband likes to compete and i like to perform. Even if you don’t compete and just dance showcases at your own studio, you have made a choice to put yourself out there and be looked at and consequently judged. And you can’t control other people’s judgements, only your own reactions to them.
As what one studio owner calls a “normal” sized person (5’2″) dancing with a “giant” (6’2″, our coach sometimes calls him a “behemoth”) I have come to terms with the idea that we will never immediately strike the audience or judges as having the right look for ballroom. If we were eastern Europeans on the fast track to Blackpool, our coaches would probably split us up and find us “better” partners. But we are Senior III Gold and Silver competitors and will never compete at a world class level. Besides, I have spent 35 years watching and waiting while he spent time doing a myriad of individual and team sports. It is my turn to spend time with this guy!
But we have fun, have met so many great people and competition helps us get better and better at dancing. We were stagnant in social dancing and needing a challenge. Competition has done that. And some judges do not like either our look or our dancing at all. C’est la vie. We take the approach that we can not win them over instantly with our looks, as some couples apparently do, so we have to get them to warm up to us. We possibly have to be better dancers than other couples who look “right” and that is fine with us. Oh – and I love being told we inspire other mis-matched couples. That is very cool, too.