We really do come in all shapes and sizes

written by Andalee on January 27, 2013 in Plus size belly dancers with 4 comments
Andalee and her student troupe show off their bellies at a Hafla.

Andalee and her student troupe show off their bellies at a Hafla.

Last night I went to a Hafla (basically a belly dance recital) and I love attending these kinds of events because belly dancers from all walks of life are there to display their utmost creativity in a safe and accepting environment. These events aren’t about competition, making money, one-upping anyone else, or anything superficial like that. They are a place for fun, friendship and belly dance!

And while watching all of the lovely belly dancers–from students to professionals–it was so obvious that women come in so many shapes and sizes! There wasn’t one single body that resembled another woman’s body (in the spirit of gender equality, I will mention that there was a male dancer last night, but he can’t really be compared to women). Everyone was so unique and shined in their own special way. I know that sounds super cheesy, but it is true.

It’s especially touching to see women of vastly varying sizes dancing as one group, united in their mission to share their love of belly dance. I was also touched to see some very large women out there dancing. I think it takes extra courage to be a large woman on display in our culture. We know that fat people face stigma, ridicule and oppression on a regular, if not daily, basis.

Then I got to thinking about the stereotypes that fat people face, namely that they are lazy and don’t get any physical activity. And here I was watching those stereotypes go up in smoke. Fat women, such as myself, have to practice and rehearse just as much and just as hard as women of other sizes. They’re all in the same classes and rehearsals. They all share the same stage

And of course, there are some haters out there who will say, “Oh they must not do enough physical activity.” Or “They probably eat a lot of junk food.” You know what? None of that matters. It doesn’t matter what people do in their spare time; it’s none of our business how others live their lives. But do you know what really matters? It matters that there are women out there of all shapes and sizes who love belly dance, and that they have a safe and welcoming environment in which to belly dance and display their beautiful bodies.

End note: I used the word fat as a descriptor for ones size, not as an insult. It’s better than the clinical term, obese, in my opinion. Also, it should be noted that while I am technically fat as someone whose BMI is considered obese, I realize that I face less stigma and stereotyping as my larger sisters…that is why I have worded some of the things the way I have.

About Andalee

Andalee is the founder of Belly Dance at Any Size. She is an Oriental dancer and instructor based in Durham, NC. She has been dancing since 2005 and teaching since 2008. Her mission is to promote Oriental Dance (a.k.a. belly dance) as a respected and valid performance art.