You don’t have a dancer’s body – I’ve said to myself.
I’ve said this to myself a zillion times, especially after watching a real dancer; those beautiful leg muscles vs my horrific cellulite. I also have my own muscles, but they are hidden under the cellulite.
A long time ago, a very important person in my life, told me in a very inappropriate moment literally this: “So you want to be a dancer? Well, you don’t look like one.”
And it hurts so much. It hurts so much that I still remember that phrase.
But it was not only this person who told me that I didn’t look like a dancer:
– My classmates who called me names like “cow” for more than 7 years.
– Some family members that pointed at my emerging love handles* as if my life should be completely focused on them.
– Dance companies that wouldn´t accept me in due to my body shape.
– Students that thought that it was imposible for me to move that way having that body.
– Ladies with vile curiosity that come to me after a show and told me that the performance was lovely and so on but… how come I had that tummy?
– Fellow colleagues who had had a much better artistic career after losing weight.
– Classmates that could only look at my belly.
– Write here that situation that made you feel not suitable for dancing.
*I really like the way English language describes waist fat as ‘love handles’. The way we speak about the world is the way we see it.
It is crystal clear that I don’t have a dancer’s body. Dancers in Western countries are skinny, tall, with silky-smooth skin and with long hair. Even better if they are young.
I’m young -well, I think, ehem- and have long hair but I’ll never meet the rest of the ‘requirements´.
And all this is not just something that I’m telling myself. I am constantly told that I don’t fit by mass media, audience eyes and inappropriate questions.
We are constantly telling ourselves that we don’t fit as an endless echo coming from all the judgemental sentences we have listened during all our lifes.
The solution to this problem – because I consider this to be a big problem- should not only come from ourselves: accept yourself, love yourself, esteem yourself, blah, blah, blah.
Loving and accepting oneself is a very important point – and difficult to achieve – but we can’t deny the influence of social and external comments on self-esteem, even thought this may sound contradictory. Self-esteem is not only a self issue.
When society as a whole, and every single person that surrounds you don’t support your job because you don’t have a ‘normative’ body, whatever you do to improve your inner-self is not enough. And I’m talking as a fat person who wants to lose some weight, but out there we can find other people with similar problems and different bodies: thin, pregnant, with big hips, small tits, write here your own complex… They all suffer from the same problem – their body doesn’t fit in the normal concept.
So today, I make public my decision to stand up for body diversity. I want all my projects to be inclusive and I want every dancer to feel welcome and safe, independently of their body shape.
I’m fed up with insincere inclusion. I’m fed up with people saying “everybody is suitable to dance” – but I only accept mannequin bodies in my dance company.
I’m going to support all the real dancers, I’m going to walk the talk –I’ve actually been doing this for years already.
Have you got a body? Have you got a soul?
No doubt about it then – you are a dancer.
Have you also felt excluded due to your looks or body shape?
You are not alone. You are not the only one.
I’d love to read your experience in the comments.