Growing up I always used to envy ballerinas and gymnasts. I used to fantasize about taking classes with a room of girls all lined up at a bar in front of that row of mirrors; flexing my arms and legs. Or, I used to dream about tumbling across a mat in front of judges and fellow gymnasts who would be happy for me as I landed a great combination. The screeching-record moment in all of those idle fantasies, however, was my supposedly over-fat body.
Now, I don’t recall any one particular moment, such as the one so heart-wrenchingly and beautifully described for StacyBias’ Fictional Monologue, (seriously, go read that and tell me that it doesn’t both break your heart and make it swell with fist-pumping hope!) but I knew, even at the young ages between 4 and 6, that I was looked upon as having a body unsuitable to the activities I dreamed of taking up and excelling in. Granted, I will allow that other large inhibitors were the high costs of such classes as well as the time involved, things that my single-mom was likely hard-pressed to even hope to meet even if I DID have the “right” sort of child-body.
It took me 20 years or so to finally set aside the mental barriers I had so dutifully formed which so instinctively told me that I was not the sort of person who could (be seen) dance(ing). It may have taken some time but I can’t tell you how happy I have been to not only dance, but dance WELL and PROUDLY. With a grin that oftentimes outshines that of dancers with bodies far more “Dancer Ideal”, I dance in beautiful costumes, at funky venues, with no shame.
That, to me, is something that Fat Acceptance has done for me. It hasn’t made me “give up” on myself. It has allowed me to “give up” on the feeling that I am never enough, that I can never deserve better, that I should never be seen doing something I love. I may not be a ballerina or gymnast. I’m certainly not the best belly dancer around. But the joy I feel when I dance, when I dance KNOWING that I am seen and (even if not by all) appreciated, is so much better than the feelings of guilty shame I hid away behind for so long. I’ve learned to stop making qualifiers based upon assumptions that I “should not” (be visible, be happy, be me).
Something inspiring me right now as I get ready to settle into bed tonight (thanks to Old Time Fatties):