I have been identifying with the “body positive” movement for about six months now. I am drawn to the idea that my self worth is not directly related to my relationship with the Earth’s gravity.
Once I started seeing myself in a different light, I began to realize that I had been holding myself back from hobbies and interests because they weren’t what I believe fat people “should do.” I had convinced myself that my weight was the reason I couldn’t dance, couldn’t hike, couldn’t do traditional exercise. Once I gave up these media fueled misconceptions, I began to experiment with these hobbies.
I think the most surprising change to my life after becoming body positive was how much healthier my lifestyle became. I am more active, focus on trying to eat healthier, and in general I became happier.
I think this is because when you love something you have an easier time taking care of that something. When I hated my body, hated myself, I didn’t want to take care of myself. Once I started loving myself, and loving my body, I found myself with more energy and motivation.
On a side note, it also made my “marital bed” easier to share. But that’s a TMI topic for another time.
So, fast forward six months to this week. If becoming body positive is a class, I had to take a mid term. I had a couple videos taken of me this week.
The first was taken as I was dancing at my local bar. I have started learning West Coast Swing. (I like to say I’m learning it on the streets, because I don’t take any classes.) I asked a friend, if she remembered, to take video of me dancing so I could see what I looked like.
When I saw this video, I was extremely distracted by how I looked. Some could even say I was rather distraught. The list of things I thought, and said out loud, was horrific. I was so distracted by how I looked, I forgot about why I asked for the video in the first place.
It took me watching the video on repeat six times before I desensitized myself. And yet, I was obsessed with watching it.
On the seventh time, I started remember what it was like to actually dance in that moment. I had not danced with this lead before, and they are far more advanced than I am. I remember feeling very insecure and sure that I was messing everything up. When I started remembering that, and watching the video again, I found myself changing from distraught to amazed.
I don’t look totally out of control. There’s one section where we lose connection, but in general it looks pretty fluid. Plus, my whip looks amazing!
When I turned off the body shaming voice in my head, the self created bully who had been taught by all the negative stereotypes and media fueled hate speech, I found my entire perspective changing. I found myself falling in love with what I was seeing, and what it meant.
It meant I can West Coast Swing, at least in a social way. It means I can dance with almost any lead and look relatively competent. I meant I have visual proof that I am improving.
The second part of my “mid term” is also dance related. I created a line dance to the song “All About That Bass” and have been blessed to have it taught at Maverick’s Country Bar and Grill here in Bend, Oregon. The instructor who has helped me take this dance from weird experiment to public display wanted me to make some youtube videos, with her amazing help, teaching and demonstrating the dance.
As much as I tried to hide it, the idea of creating these videos filled me with fear. What if people make fun of me? What if the trolls treat me like they treated Whitney Way Thore? The idea of purposefully putting myself out there like that just seemed ridiculous. Plus, I thought that I, and my body type, would hold this dance back.
This time, I actually feel much better. Of course, I’m still way too obsessed with what I look like, but it helps that I looked a little better . But, it only took a couple times of watching the video to become desensitized to how I looked and focus on the rest of it. I sound amazing, like a real dance instructor (which, spoiler alert, I’m not.) And, it really give this dance the spotlight it truly deserves.
So? Did I pass my mid-term, not really. I’m thankful to see what I need to be focusing on now. I’ve nailed down the “I can do whatever I want” part of being body positive. I’ve expanded my horizons and gotten over my fear of other people’s judgments of me.
Now I have to work on my own judgments of me.