I love to watch and participate in dance wherever it finds me, but have found that most dance forms which are typically accepted as “serious” art, including jazz and ballet, have a narrow range of “acceptable” body types. Pregnant and postpartum women with rounded bellies and a new fullness to their hips may be uncomfortable trying to fit inside these strict parameters. Movements that leap and extend away from the earth with long, straight lines do not come naturally to the rounded, feminine form.
Belly dance, on the other hand, consistently helps women of all shapes and sizes express their emotions and feel beautiful in their own skin. In my role as a belly dance instructor, women often approach me to say they are too fat, too thin, uncoordinated, or unattractive because of stretch marks and caesarian scars. They haven't yet awakened to their own beauty and their innate capacity for this fluid dance.
I invite them to join us, perceived flaws and all! If they are courageous enough, a wonderful process unfolds as they enter into a supportive group environment and begin to accept themselves. New dancers expand their energy, strengthen and lengthen their bodies, increase their endurance and reclaim healthy self-expression. Rather than sucking in their stomachs and being ashamed of taking up space in the world, women learn to accept themselves. Bellies begin to be embraced as the center of our bodies and as respected spaces to create new life.
As Lisa Sarasohn of http://www.loveyourbelly.com/ wisely writes in The Women's Belly Book, "Nature does not intend a woman to look like a ten-year-old boy. In fact, nature designs a woman's belly to shelter and nurture new life. A woman's belly holds and protects her womb, promoting the survival of the human species."
The survival of the human species. Imagine that. Something really important, right? Even more than fitting into a skinny pair of jeans with a flat stomach. Sarasohn shines the light of truth on cultural misconceptions, pointing out that "our culture tells us the best belly is one you cannot see, the one that's invisible to the eye." She goes on to say that "Our insecurities about our bellies bankroll the weight-loss, diet products, plastic surgery, advertising, media, shapewear, cosmetics, and fitness industries. Consumed by the idea that there's something wrong with our bellies, we're ready to trade our money for the fixes such industries are pushing....But the insecurities that make us such steady, compliant consumers are artificially induced; we're not born with them." (Sarasohn, 2006, pg. 38-39).
If we're not born with them, then we are free to completely re-evaluate our choices in light of this new information. Let's reconsider how we think about ourselves and our bodies that are born to dance. Do you really want to hand over your self-empowerment to people who have no business controlling how you live, who have never had your best interests at heart?
I didn't think so.
Is it worth it to you to begin to value your body's center once again, if it means you can reclaim your true power and dramatically increase your health and well-being?
I'm hoping your answer is an energetic "YES!"
If so, you're ready to take a deeper look at the magic of belly dance for increasing the grace and flexibility with which you move through all areas of your life! Join me on a journey of healing, transformation and empowerment through my e-book, The Belly Dance Prescription: Shake Your Hips and Depression, available now at Mommy-Muse.com.