The importance of validation

written by Disa on October 19, 2015 in Body image and Plus size belly dancers with one Comment

The importance of validationI suppose I should preface all of this by saying that I’m a huge geek. I love comic conventions and cosplaying at said conventions. If you’re not familiar with the term “cosplay” it just means dressing up as comic/movie/book/anime character. Within the cosplay community, there is a lot of discussion on plus size individuals participating in cosplay. Recently a friend and I were discussing a thread we saw on Facebook in which a woman asked for plus size cosplay advice. Most of the comments were directed at the idea that she should cosplay as whatever character she wanted-regardless of her body type. And I get that they were trying to be supportive. But what if she wasn’t ready to do that yet?

I’ve noticed the same mentality in the belly dance community and, while I appreciate it, I think we need to be careful that we’re not invalidating the concerns of the individual we’re trying to support. For example, I wear a belly stocking when I perform and I NEVER show my stomach during workshops or classes. Although it’s my choice what I want to show (or not show), I’ll share with you why I don’t show my stomach any more than is absolutely necessary. I have the worst stretch marks I have ever seen on any human being ever. Honestly, it looks like I was mauled by a tiger. Now some of you may be reading this and wanting to encourage me to love my body as it is and to proudly display those stretch marks I “earned” through pregnancy. Well, thanks for that, but don’t invalidate me. If I’m self-conscious about a certain area of my body, don’t make me feel worse about it by making me feel, well, worse about it.

I know I should love my body and I would never tell any other person with stretch marks to be ashamed of them. But isn’t it up to me how I work through that? If we’re going to be supportive of one another, I think we need to be careful about validating concerns that individuals may have regarding their own bodies. I appreciate when I hear someone say “I think you look great, but I can understand where you’re coming from. I feel the same way about my (fill in the blank).” That’s the kind of support I’m looking for. The kind that comes without what feels like judgment. Someday I may feel comfortable showing off my belly–stretch marks and all–but maybe not. And that’s okay. It’s my journey. And some journeys take a little more time and little more work than others.

About Disa

Disa is a single working mom and belly dancer in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is also the director of The S’Moores, a fan group for Australian actor Toby Leonard Moore. Her life is a whirlwind of motherhood, work, social media and dance lessons for herself and her daughter. She dances with Allure as part of Belly Dancing by Thia in Salt Lake City. She is also an avid reader, screenwriter, filmmaker, movie-watcher, and self-proclaimed feminist geek who loves spending time with her daughter.