By MARY WARD
With my leg above my head.
And a slightly awkward set up behind me because my sisters and I had to move a lounge to find a decent spot to take this photo as my ability to judge when sunset will occur is quite poor and, thus, my vision of this occurring in the backyard was thwarted.
So, yeah. Mind the power cords.
But, back to me with my leg above my head.
I dance. I’ve danced since I was eight years old. Nothing too serious – just me and a bunch of friends (taught by one of said friends’ mums) in a local community hall – which is why dance enthusiasts will note that my foot in this picture is embarrassingly sickled. Apologies.
I’ve done a few eisteddfods as a member of a dance troupe here and there, too, but not a lot of the big ones, and with not a huge amount of success (*cough* 1st in 15/u jazz at the City of Ryde Eisteddfod 2008 *cough*).
But, when I tell people that I am a dancer, I get a bit of a strange look.
Because I don’t really look like one.
This is not a self-deprecating statement. It’s a matter of fact. I don’t have the slender legs of a prima ballerina. My broad shoulders bear no resemblance to those of the mannequins presumably used by the leotard design team at Bloch.
I have both boobs and a butt. They have been created in the customary way: by the fatty tissue that is biologically required to engineer those body parts, but that is rarely a feature of the dancer’s body.
The dancer’s body: There was a stage where not having one really annoyed me. Over a decade dancing and yet no dancer’s physique to show for it? What a rort! All those fee statements later and my parents still had a daughter who looked nothing like Margot Fonteyn.
Even now, although I like to think that I am older and wiser, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and feel out of place. Awkward. Like I should pack up and go home because this is a fun thing for thin, hot people and that is a club that would turn me away at the door.
But, then, I need to remind myself:
My legs are strong, with a strength that comes from the muscle mass that they carry. My splits are excellent, because: gravity (duh.) My solid inner core can pull off pirouettes, even though the tummy it’s sitting behind has taken out a permanent residency.
Don’t get me wrong – there are some parts of my body that can be a hindrance. I’m really bottom-heavy, so things that involve my top half lifting my bottom half are an instant veto (handstands – here’s looking at you.)
But some of the most fantastic dancers I have ever met don’t have ‘the dancer’s body.’ Some of the most inspiring and talented teachers I have ever had don’t have ‘the dancer’s body.’
The gorgeous girls I take class with every week can’t possibly all have ‘the dancer’s body’, because we all have really, really different bodies.
We range from 5’ nothing to around 5’10”. Probably from size 6 to size 16. Legs that go on for days to legs that end almost as soon as they’ve left the hips. E cups to mosquito bites. Different races. Different ages.
Which makes sense. Because we are, after all, different people.
Maybe some of us fit closer to the ‘ideal’ than others but, at the end of the day, we’re all in class together. Learning the same skills. Performing the same routine.
I don’t have ‘the dancer’s body.’ I have a dancer’s body.
Each week here at Mamamia, we’re challenging you to take a photo of yourself for our Body Positive Challenge. The first week we dared you to go makeup free. The next, we asked you to take a photo of yourself completely owning a part of your body you used to hide.
But this week?
This week we want to see what your body can do.
This week of the challenge is for those of you who just did a PB on the treadmill. It’s for those of you who can eat the world’s biggest curry for dinner and know that your body will still stay strong. It’s for those of you who use your bodies to walk to work. To win team sports. To bring new members of your families into the world.
This week of the challenge is for the runners with stumpy legs. For the swimmers with narrow shoulders.
For the dancers with boobs and a butt.
This week is about proving that it’s not about what your body looks like. It’s about what your body can do.
So, go on. Post a picture of your body doing something awesome.
Body Positive Challenge #3: What I’m proud my body can do.
We focus so much on how our bodies look rather than what they’re capable of. Maybe you can do a handstand, or run 100m mega quick. Perhaps you can do the splits or you’ve given birth to a HUMAN BEING. Take a photo that reflects the awesome achievements of your body.
Upload a photo of yourself to the social media platform of your choosing (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc) with the hashtag #mmbodypositive
Alternatively you can email your photo to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can upload the photo directly in the comments section. We will then collate the images and bring you an amazing gallery of beautiful body parts.
You can learn more about the Body Positive Project and read about the other upcoming challenges here.
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