And…there are very few fat dancers???

WTF?  Here’s a good Monday Morning WTF moment for you.  Not only is the entirety of this Oh-So-Cleverly crafted article on childhood obesity and how it is now the Schools’ Fault just full of head-shakingly biased assumptions and mis-information; but it ends with this statement that just made my head boggle: “And there are very few fat dancers”.  This as the cool whip of snide derision to top the cake of social stereotypes and Think About the Children tripe that makes up this wondrous article extolling the virtues of adding strength training to school fitness programs; since studies are showing that just running around aerobically doesn’t seem to be “combating” Soaring Obesity Rates in Children! (Wait, what’s that?  Obesity Rates AREN’T spiraling Out of Control?  There IS no Epidemic? “Children are no fatter than they were 10 years ago, prompting experts to warn the focus on an obesity “epidemic” is increasing the rate of eating disorders?”  Pish Posh I say, just LOOK at all those chubbies running around!  Anecdotal evidence is KING! This can’t be just another attempt to keep that sinking Obesity Scare Panic balloon afloat, you’re just in denial!)

Now I can’t even summon the energy to address what I feel has been so eloquently covered numerous times over before by others willing to go even more in depth than I; namely the myth that Childhood Obesity and the resulting Poor Health and Early Death is some sort of doubling, tripling (over the 10 years during which BMI cut-offs were arbitarily adjusted lower) We KNOW It to Be the TRUTH so Stop Denying it Fatties reality that just isn’t being addressed loudly enough for the public to care about how damaging it is to Just have SOOO many visible fatties roaming the planet… ThinkOfTheChildrenTM!

And let’s not focus on the fact that what SHOULD be the most disturbing in this article is perhaps this line:

“(New York City) public schools have gym only once a week,”

I can’t imagine being a teacher in a public school when kids aren’t allowed the chance to physically blow off steam for an hour or half an hour each day!  What about focusing on the dire lack of physically engaging options available to ALL students as a means of remaining physically active instead of focusing on this idea that kids run around only to lose weight??  And then it looks like Diane Gallagher, who has been trying to introduce dance as a fun activity into schools has COMPLETELY the right idea about just keeping people active with FUN activities, for it’s own sake:

“My goal is to introduce kids to the pleasure of dance,” Gallagher said. “There are no wrong answers in dance.”

YES!  Perfect! YES!  Moving around is fun.  Do it because your body loves to do it!  But then the editor has to take that last jibe and ruin what could be a perfectly healthy mental approach to dance and physical activities in schools by adding:

And there are very few fat dancers.

Well maybe I’m one of those “Few” but I’d like to argue against this article’s assumption and assert that since the visual reality of What is “Fat” would likely give a double-take reaction, let’s go out and say that No, actually, there are PLENTY of fat dancers.  Asserting that there aren’t is just WRONG and assumes that the only dancers who ARE fat just haven’t been dancing long enough and will Someday Be Thin; that all any Overweight or Obese person really is boils down to one fewer bite of food and one more salsa number away from Thin Beautiful Perfection. Well the heck with that nonsense.

Everyone should dance: from the tips of their toes up to the top of their heads! Dance like everyone is watching and clapping, dance like no one is watching and you are moving to express your own inner rhythm.  Dance because it Just Feels Good! So on behalf of the “Very Few” of us who are actually the average (The AVERAGE woman is overweight); here’s this here Round Shape’s own fat dancer doing her best to enjoy the pleasures of dance.

(This IS the Chicken Dance polka done as a belly dance choreography.  You HAVE been warned…)

26 thoughts on “And…there are very few fat dancers???

  1. My memories of gym only involve running on the day that we all ran a mile (not me, of course, the teacher mocked me for walking a lot of it–and I think there may have been a timed dash of some sort. Mostly I remember standing in line or standing in my tiny tiny section of the court knowing that if the ball ever came anywhere near me the nearest sporty kid would reach over and hit it before I ever had the chance. Well, when we did soccer I could run around the field in the general direction of the ball if I enjoyed utter futility. (I did enjoy tag and freeze tag as a kid but we never played that in gym… heck, I never played that at recess either, because that would involve not being a total outcast.)

    Don’t they have recess? I found it to be much less loathsome than gym. (Many gym teachers absolutely hate their fat students.)

  2. Meerkat I agree about Gym in general. Ours in HS involved spending 5 minutes Running around the gym in laps to “warm up” and then by the time teams and games were chosen it was about 10-15 minutes of standing hoping the volleyball didn’t come near or tugging at my shorts waiting for the soccer ball to come wizzing into the goal. BOOO-ring. I would have killed for a good outdoor playground with a jungle gym for crying out loud! Monkey bars! See-saws! Places to just run in the grass if you wanted to….

  3. Let me guess, that cute little jibe was aimed, not at “the children,” but at “the girls,” since heaven only knows all little girls want to be dancers as opposed to presidents or astronauts or fighter pilots or writers or social workers, or hell, pink unicorns. I’ve yet to see any mainstream anything chide young boys for not having bodies consistent with their future dancing careers.

    So, on top of reminding children to hate exercise, let’s also make sure our young girls know they’ll never be truly judged on anything other than how fuckable, oh wait they’re young so, er, how danceable, they are.

    And yes, that weird noise you just heard was my head exploding.

  4. The Chicken Belly dance is magnificent!!

    Is this you? Is this your choreography? Such talent!

    I am sending this to my mother, who had the Chicken Dance payed at my wedding reception on the bagpipes, and to my belly dance teacher–maybe she’ll let me do the Bunny Hop at the next haflah.

    • Spoonfork that is me and my choreography, thanks for the kudos! ^^ I totally wish I could hear the Chicken Dance on bagpipes! And for what it’s worth; I think the Bunny Hop could make an excellent belly dance 😀

  5. Sorry–Mom had the song ‘played’, not ‘payed’. Though I expect she did slip the piper a little something for his trouble–laughing while you’re playing the bagpipe is a good way to get a hernia.

  6. My sister wants to be a gym teacher. She is thin, but since she loves me I can’t imagine she will hate all her fat students. I told her I would have loved martial arts in gym class. Or weightlifting.

    My memories of gym are much like all of yours. We only had to take it until 10th grade and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that was over. By then I was so beaten down that the thought of jiggling my fat in front of other people was mortifying, and I didn’t exercise (again) for many years.

  7. Sugar Leigh sorry to make your head explode! Or rather, for bringing up head-explody things. Yeah I too imagine that the comment about fat dancers was not made with male dancers in mind….

    Eve I really hope your sister excels as a gym teacher too! I’m sure it is difficult to create a positive environment in a highschool with all the bullying already going on but we can always have hope that gym will be a fun and safe space for some kids! 🙂

  8. I’ve been a fat dancer for 25 years. I’m 29 years old.

    Matter of fact, I was a fat, competitive dancer for eight years, and my team brought home trophies, yo.

  9. I used to dance competitively and I was fat, as were my dance instructors. I won medals as a fat Irish dancer. Many of my fellow dancers were not slender. They weren’t as fat as me, but they weren’t skinny either. More average sized (and very well muscled).

  10. I hated gym class & got excused all the way through high school, because I do have cerebral palsy & even though the gym teachers in junior high could not understand that I did the best I could & should not get low grades for physical inability to do the things they did in their sleep, I have always been a very active person. I have always been a walker, ever since childhood, & I have never had a driver’s license or a car, so I generally walk everywhere. However, I could care LESS if there are no gym classes as such, as they seem to be nothing but torture & embarrassment for the 95% of the kids are not natural athletes. However, the chance to run around & play outside is a good thing…& so is the chance to dance, if you enjoy it & you can. I tend to look like a wounded moose trying to stomp berries when I try, so I am very loathe to dance where anyone else can see me, but I do keep moving & intend to do so for as long as I can.

  11. And just like the argument that kids should be made to lose weight because other kids will pick on them, that last statement (as well as being untrue) fails to take into account the social pressures associated with participating in organized dance classes. Just like it’s not the fat kid’s fault that other kids are cruel, it’s not the fat dancer’s fault that most mainstream dance schools/environments are so inhospitable to fat that it would take either a really strong kid or a masochist to want to stick around. There are many awesome counterexamples, some of which have been raised on this thread, but fat dancers at dance schools and in competitions are an extreme minority, with the mix complicated and toxified further by pressures to diet and engage in disordered eating in some cases, especially associated with ballet.

    It is always mind-boggling to me how people are so content not to examine at all how bullying and fat hatred might be the real problem in any given situation… it’s all “Just [get your kid to] lose weight! Problem solved!” No, the problem is still there, but it’s not being outwardly expressed for the moment, so you can pretend it doesn’t exist… especially if it’s your kid doing the bullying.

    Of course I do agree with the author’s central point that dance is fun and something that all kids should have the opportunity to do.

  12. That is just such a horrifying way to end the piece, and a really terrible bit of editorializing on what was otherwise a very good point by the dance instructor.

    I had a friend who was a modern dancer in college, and while she wasn’t fat, she certainly wasn’t willowy, by any means. I saw a few of her performances, and remember being surprised by the fact that a good number of the modern dancers were larger than average.

  13. Wow. I wasn’t aware that being a fat polynesian and bellydancer made me unique! Both of my young daughters are also rounder and both also do bellydance and polynesian dance. I’m sorry but my baby’s shimmies kicks ass! LOL

    I am thankful that they made it mandatory for our schools to have all the kids in elementary grades to run (or be active) 30 mins a day.

    BTW, such a fun video! *insert zaghareets*

  14. I like that you celebrate who you are and don’t buy into the culture of THIN that makes women feel bad about their bodies. Creating shame does not help people get healthy, nor does guilt about food or eating.
    I have seen plenty of “fat” people who are really good dancers and very graceful. Prejudice and ignorance come in all forms, many thin people promote many idiotic ideas.


    But back to the main topic: it’s bullshit that there are not many dancers. There are just not many *commercial venues* for fat dancers. Even outside of the belly dance world, there are plenty of talented plus-sized dancers. Big Moves is proof enough:

    But coming back to MED: I think the most powerful thing about belly dance is its lack of a single ideal body type. In most western dance forms, the limb-focused movement vocabulary and tradition of partnering and lifts selected for bodies (and especially legs) that were as light as possible. As my size 6ish friend put it: “in ballet, no body is ever good enough”.

    In belly dance, EVERY body is good enough. It looks equally good, but entirely different, on every woman’s body. Dancers like me who have wide hips get a big range of motion and look super articulate. Dancers with lots of belly fat get amazing shimmy reverb. Slim dancers get a snakey, muscular quality to their movements. And since you usually improvise or create your own choreography, you’re free to choose the movements that look and feel best for you.

    Any exercise is “good for you”, and, sure, you might lose a some body fat by dancing a lot. But dance is good for your soul; it just feels good to MOVE, and it will help you see what you body loves to do, and help you love it for that.

  16. Hi, I hadn’t known of this until I read about it and thought it was funny, and true! But I think this dancing thing is for everyone, no matter what shape you’re in!

    Dancing is truly an awesome excercise!

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  18. You’re the best. I LOVE your Chicken dance and I would pay money to hear the chicken dance played on bag pipes. A belly-dance polka – that takes a certain kind of mind to envision it. Once again you took a turd day and made it good for me.
    I actually enjoyed gym class. I’m not athletic per se, but I enjoy being physical and the structure of gym class was good for me. We had all sorts of fun things going on from elementary through high school. There was boring running and stuff too, but we had games and fencing and martial arts, and rope climbing.
    I so need to find myself a belly dancing class. And, btw, all the belly dancers I know (well, both of them) are round. But a short enough time ago I would have agreed with that snide comment. Thank you April for introducing me to all of these wonderful blogs (especially yours) that have challenged me to think more critically.

    • Irrational Thinker I’m awesomely glad to make a day better, especially if I can do it with polka and belly shakes 😀 Oh and I totally WISH I could have had fencing and rope climbing at gym; that would have been…I don’t know, something I think kids these days call “fun”… 😉

  19. I love chicken dancing to the kind of music that makes the grueling cardio sessions totally fun! 50’s twisting music is awesome! DANCE DANCE DANCE!

  20. A smaller sized reader here. I liked gym class but as a skinny kid with no strength, poor co-ordination, couldn’t swim and a fear of heights I peaked when I managed to do a cartwheel aged 5. It was all downhill from there…But I had ME during my teens and reading running magazines meant I desperately wanted to get active when I was well. And I’ve run on and off for the past 14 years. I’m always at the back but I’ve had a lot of fun in races and even traveled to the US to do a half marathon. For me, recognising that I have a healthy body and enjoying it is really important. Folk of any size who abuse their body, including with underuse, when they have no other health problems make me mad. I don’t discriminate in my wrath.

    Dance doesn’t suit me as I can’t remember the steps- its a major source of stress and embarrassment (although I adore tap). Country Dancing (or Prancing) as the kids call it, is a staple in Scottish schools just before Christmas. But I can’t even cope with the Macarena! But I’m LOVING the belly dance interpretation!

    What I have done though, since uni, is actively sought out news sports and activities to try to see how they go.
    Disasters: Caving, Trampolining, TKD, field hockey, badminton, climbing, downhill skiing, x-country skiing
    No talent but enjoyed: Karate, lacrosse, netball, swimming
    Did well but didn’t enjoy: dinghy sailing, archery
    Love: tennis, gym, hill walking, field hockey goalie, coxing

    People just have to make the effort to get out and try things they might want to pursue or indulge a friend who wants to share a sport with you. And most of these, except perhaps caving, climbing and coxing would suit anybody (pun intended).

    • flat-footed it IS a wonderful thing to get out and do what feels good and you love to do! What about the caving and badminton were disasters? I’m sure all of those have stories but those two really make me curious! 😀

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