Belly dance costuming and body positivity

written by Sophia Ravennna on February 1, 2017 in Costuming for any size with 2 comments
Belly Dance Costuming and Body Positivity

Photo of Sophia Ravenna by the Dancer’s Eye Photography

I had a request to talk about flattering costumes, but in a body-positive way. So I’m going to take a stab at it. If you want advice on how to dress for your body type, look elsewhere. This is going to be about dressing to feel good about yourself.

A belly dance costume is so much more than a couple pieces of sparkly fabric. It’s a way of communicating who our stage persona is. For some dancers, it says “I’m a baladi girl!” and for others “I’m the queen of darkness!” and for me “I wish I lived in a Mucha painting!” and all of those are valid choices.

A costume should make you feel like the truest version of your dance persona. It should also fit you right, and work well with the sort of movements you like to do.

Here’s my advice on how to build a costume wardrobe that will make you feel like a million bucks:

  • Buy things that actually fit well or only need really minor alterations, like having the straps shortened.
  • Consider whether a costume is actually practical for you. If you like to do veil wraps, avoid anything with prong-set rhinestones. If you do a lot of floorwork, long beaded fringe is out. If you never do ATS, stop buying 25 yard skirts (talking to myself with that one).
  • Before buying a new costume piece or prop, ask yourself the following questions…
    • Do I already have something almost identical to this? (How many black mermaid skirts do you really need?)
    • Will this go with anything I already have?
    • Does this look really good on me? Do I like the way it looks and feels?
    • Does this fill a specific niche in my wardrobe, or am I just buying it because I want to buy something?
  • If you have a piece that you love when you look at it, but hate when you see it on your body, try to figure out why. If you can’t pinpoint it yourself, ask a trusted friend (especially if you have a friend who makes their own costumes). Try to figure out if you can fix it, if you can pay someone else to fix it, or if you have to admit that it’s just not for you and needs to be sold to someone who can make it work.
  • Don’t let other people tell you what you can and can’t wear. Some people say short girls shouldn’t wear long, full skirts, but tiny Violet Scrap wears full skirts that drag the ground, and she makes it look awesome. Attitude matters a lot more than stuff like body type and coloration. If you really love something and it makes you feel like a badass bombshell, you’ll find a way to make it look good.
  • Unless you are a professional and you need to for gigs, don’t feel pressured to wear shapewear or bodystockings, or to conceal your scars, stretch marks, and tattoos. Your body is your own and it’s up to you whether you want to try to present the illusion of “perfection” or if you feel more authentic showing your “flaws”. It’s also OK if your answer changes from day to day.

Is there anything you’d like to add to this list?

This article was originally published at

About Sophia Ravenna

Sophia Ravenna lives and dances in the Seattle, WA area. She has a special love for fan veils of all sizes, live music, and training intensives. When not dancing or blogging, she works in marketing, reads voraciously, and drinks copious amounts of tea.