I am hoping that some of you aren’t looking at this title and thinking that I am going to come out and support dancers who are larger. I am not. I am also not going to come out and specifically support dancers that are thinner. Or anywhere in between. There is an ongoing trend of criticizing dancers based on their size and I just don’t like it. Sizeism and bellydance has been around for a long time and will probably be around for even longer. Given that it is a profession or an art, that falls under the category of an entertainment industry, size will always come up. It is unfortunate but it is. Just like actresses will be criticized and commented on for their size, we will as well. When I say size, I don’t just mean weight. I mean height, width, all of it.
I have my own experiences to add to this discussion. I have been the victim of the you’re too skinny to dance, you need to eat a sandwich talk and it’s very hurtful. The impression that someone who is “skinnier” has this easy road with no issues is just not true. I have also been told that I am tall for a dancer. I know I wear heels when I perform but still, really??
I did not ask for an opinion on my dimensions and I don’t need one. The critique of my size and what it is or is not has even gone so far as to doubt the measurements of costumes I am selling. The prevailing opinion was that it’s not possible that I wear one with a 38inch bootie. Well, it is possible and I do. I am proud of the body that all dancing and the eating that I do has built!
I am not the only one. My dance sisters have heard things like that they don’t have the build for (insert style of dance here) and should try another style. That your size is more important than whether or not you can dance. We have heard many terrible things from audience members over the years; specifically if we don’t fit the mental picture of what they consider beautiful and/or a bellydancer. It is very disappointing to us that people can’t look past the superficial. The whole point of bellydance is to embrace your body. Whether you have a little to jiggle or a lot.
All of the above is why I know that my fellow bellydancers are very strong individuals. We put ourselves out there every time we advertise to teach, attend a class, and perform to being criticized for something. In this case, it is our size and shape. Even with that, we still go out there and share this art with the world. I am very proud of us for that!
Feel free to share your stories below as I think that acknowledging that this exists may be the start of helping to eradicate it.