Belly dancing for the public
I was inspired by Princess Farhana’s post about children as audience members.
She was totally right about how children are the best audience members. They don’t have the strictest ideas about beauty and they appreciate being entertained. Their joy is the absolute purest – they get excited over everything and it’s so much fun to watch their reactions.
For the most part, I have performed mostly for other dancers. I’m totally comfortable in my own skin in front of them. My community is absolutely amazing and very supportive. But that’s kinda the point of a good community (one hopes).
Now dancing for the public, I always have a little fear about my body. Being plus sized makes it harder for me to feel comfortable in front of the public because I feel like I don’t fit into their beauty standards…particularly for exposing my belly. But it all goes away when I know there’ll be kids, especially little girls.
At the last Belchertown Fair, my troupe performed at the Children’s Tent. I love being at this tent. For one, the organizers understand that what we do is actually family friendly so we were place with typical family events. It’s definitely nice to be understood and respected, especially in the town that I lived in for several years.
The other reason I like being in the tent? I like being the subversive idea planted into young minds that beauty is not always what is presented to them by our culture. There’s nothing wrong with people who fit into the molds, but I like showing the young kids that you can be confident and pretty at any size and age.
The little girls, however, are the absolute best. In their minds, we are the closest to “princesses” that they may ever meet. There were a couple little girls that wanted pictures with the “princesses” – meaning us. It was so cute, especially since we were just in our cover ups!!
After the performance, we had a bunch of teenage girls (also happened at previous performances) also came up and wanted pictures. I do these photos without my cover-up because (besides the fact that costumes are gorgeous and whatnot) I’m not going to show any fear or reluctance with my body. I want to show these young women that they can be confident in their own skin.
Besides the responsibility of representing this dance and the culture it comes from respectfully, I feel responsible for showing young women and girls that you can be confident and sure of yourself no matter your size. I would like these women and girls that I reach to feel comfortable having their photo taken, even if they are overweight. Yes, I’ve got some pretty unflattering photos, and the photos that the aforementioned families took probably have some “unflattering” photos and I’ll never see them, but it doesn’t really matter in the long run. (photo at right showing unflattering photo of me and the cat)
So from now on, I will be the Princess for those girls and young women. I’ll be happy to take photos with them with my belly out and my double chin.