Dance has done interesting things for my body image. I am far more conscious of my excess weight than I used to be – three hours a week in front of full-wall mirrors will do that for you, I suppose. With one or two exceptions, all of whom are older women (in their 40′s or 50′s, I’d judge) I am the largest woman. And whether it’s right to do it or not, women do compare themselves to each other; and compared to some of the beauties I hang around with for three hours a week, I am frankly a heffalump.
I know I should go to the social dance nights. It would be good for me as a dancer, and it would be a way to make acquaintances, or possibly even friends. There are some really nice people in my classes, and I know I’d have fun. Last lesson, my dance instructor practically demanded that I start turning up – when I confessed that I had been chickening out, he cracked up laughing, told me my dancing is perfectly good, and thus I should appear on Sundays forthwith. He should know, right?
(I was given a BGP ACTIVATED shirt for Christmas, as a nod to my tendency to require Big Girl Panties before I will get off my butt and do something like an ADULT.)
Chickening out is still easier, though. That way I don’t have to endure my brain going “haha, you are fat and unloved, no-one will ask you to dance because you are ugly”, etc. Yeah, I know it’s stupid and wrong – after all, I got asked to dance at the Christmas party, by different men, only one of which was a classmate, two of whom asked me to dance twice. And I am capable of assessing myself fairly academically, and I am not unattractive. But, the hindbrain is harder to control.
Washing my hands at work a few days ago, I saw myself in the mirror, and realised that my own face is unfamiliar to me. I know that’s an odd thing to say, as I look in the mirror on a regular basis. But it’s not my face I’m usually looking at – it’s my general body (outfit), or a specific feature (zits, plucking eyebrows). My hair is growing out again – I wanted longer hair for dancing, which has given me a bit of an odd in-between fluffiness around the shoulders. I mean, I’d be able to recognise pictures of myself, it’s not that I don’t know what I look like. But my image of myself isn’t what I look like in the mirror at the moment, and that realisation was a bit disturbing.
But I’m also kind of proud of myself. Sure, I might be overweight, and that’s not ideal. But I’ve learned something new in the last six months, and I’ve learned it well. I mean, I’m no expert dancer or anything, but I can do the beginner-level things that I do and do them properly. I have excellent timing, probably due largely to my existing musicianship. I have fun, I am regarded well by my classmates, I am getting fitter and stronger.
Those are achievements I can be proud of.