Monday, November 3, 2008

Belly Dancing as Woman Power

Today I witnessed what would happen if women loved each other, instead of competed with one another. I learned that smiles among pre-teen girls can be genuine, and that women can be sources of great power and beauty, even at the young age of 9.

I saw twisting hands and shaking hips. I saw shoulders sway and feet pound the ground as bells shimmered and twirled. I saw tall girls, overweight girls, skinny girls, short girls. I saw girls smile and cheer each other on, no pretense, no judgement. The room was brightly lit with persian rugs on the floor, mirrors everywhere, the ceiling painted sky blue with cotton candy clouds. Throughout this room, Middle Eastern music jumped and weaved its intoxicating, foreign beats. The instructor told me belly dancing is a dance made for women, by women. It's a way for these young girls to get confidence and empower themselves, no matter their shape and size.

This was my news story today, how lucky could I be? At first, I felt so uncomfortable with all those eyes staring at me, asking these girls penetrating questions:

"What do you think of your body?"

"How do magazines influence you?"

"What's it like at school and are you pressured to diet?"

I got honest answers from these girls, their ages spread between 9 and 13. One girl's voice shook as she told me how brutal people are at school over her weight and height, but that there, at the belly dance studio, she belonged. One 9-year old who's very short for her age tells me people make fun of her all the time, and she feels bad for awhile, but decides she likes her height.

Here girls whoop and holler as they show each other belly dancing "moves". I never would have thought of belly dancing as an exercise for young girls. I thought it was meant to be "sexy", to be done "for men" but I see how empowering it is to shake that rear without thinking anyone is looking at you funny.

I felt elated after interacting with these beautiful girls. Two of them came up to me and gave me big hugs afterwards and said, "thanks." The instructor also gave me a hug. It feels so good to be included, to not worry if someone is thinking, "why is she wearing THOSE shoes," or "her hips are too big" or "her teeth are crooked." After leaving this class I felt empowered, just being in their positive energy. I hope girls like this are the future. TAKE THAT Glamour and Cosmopolitan and MTV.


dance said...

Many different styles of dance shoes are available for you depending on the type of dancing you do. If you are into ballet, you know you need flexible, soft sole shoes that allow you to move your feet as freely as you do without any shoes on.

Neo said...

interesting. I have heard that rather than dressing for men, women dress for other women. Could be a little off subject, but then I just type what I think

Colleen said...

neo - I think it depends on the situation. Are you looking for a date? Then you're probably dressing for a man. But I know well enough that we (women) also dress for women.

What a great story Kristin! A sweet story about young girls finding their way. I only hope they can hold onto that confidence. It took me a few years to finally say 'Fuck it! I love me!' Heehee.

Lisa said...

Kristin, I can't wait to hear your story! What a positive experience!!

McJumpguez said...

Oh, what a great story! I wish I'd have had that growing up.
And yes, women dress to compete with other women, even if all those women have guys. Yep, I'm guilty. But again, it all comes back to how you felt when you were 9 years old. If you felt like the ugly, fat kid, then when you grow up, you might always feel this need to impress . . . which is probably why I do it occasionally. It's kind of like Drew Barrymore stated in "Never Been Kissed": 'I'm not Lucy Goosey any more!" Us grown-up fat kids have to keep reminding ourselves that were are not the 9 year old with fat kid, and perhaps we do that by competing. But I personally, would rather not, but it is hard . . .

Emily said...

This is such a cool story...I don't think many people realize how difficult it is for girls to grow up in this day and age. When I was in high school, going to school was more of a beauty contest than a place for learning. If you didn't look/dress a certain way, you would be the topic of conversation for the entire school. I wish I would have had a place like this to just hangout and not worry about being judged. Lindsay and I have talked about starting a company that promotes positive body image and self-esteem for young girls...maybe it would be similar to this belly dancing place :)