I respond to criticism about my body by internalizing it. I wish I had a more evolved way to deflect the sucker punches to my ego. But since I was a young dancer, I’ve absorbed people’s words and accompanying body language like a sponge as they commented on my thighs, my complexion or whether or not I could ever become a dancer – because of my body. That whole “sticks & stones” concept is false. Words hurt. And the pain of them lingers in my subconscious, no matter how many times I rattle off “I’m rubber, you’re glue!”.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m most comfortable in my skin when I’m at my performing weight. What can I say? I’m a product of a culture and a career that celebrates specific beauty ideals. I’ve been conditioned to believe that my appearance determines my worth. That my skills and talents can be overshadowed by an appearance that doesn’t match society’s standard. That lives in my subconscious but the critical voices are loud and on auto-loop. I’m not proud of it but, yes, I’d be much more comfortable in my skin if I were at
To me, “body confidence” is… owning my strength, power, & resilience as much as I embrace my vulnerability, softness, sensuality. It’s feeling curious and inspired by my body’s potential, adaptability, and mobility. It’s celebrating its ability to explore the world through my senses, learn new skills, and constantly regenerate through nurturing lifestyle habits. It’s gratitude for my body’s intuitive abilities to facilitate empowerment and healing in others through Pilates and massage therapy.
At the most superficial level, when I look in the mirror I see the aging process at work. As I gaze at my 51yo self, I see decades worth of reflections flash before me: each era staring back as a reminder of what’s shaped me.
I see… the negative voices from my childhood about my appearance that cultivated my own negative self-talk… being a dark-skinned Black girl in a predominantly White town with a love of Classical ballet where no one looked like me either…
meant to be me. And f**k me for choosing careers that are so driven by aesthetics! In hindsight, it feels both foolish and brave after growing up with all the verbal and non-verbal messaging that I wasn’t the “right type” to pursue my dreams. I knew that being called “healthy” wasn’t a compliment and that my “thick thighs” would always stand between me and a dance career. And in the world of entertainment, hardly anyone looked like me! But I did it anyway.
Some of my body’s coolest abilities are…
1. its ability to do cool physical shit
2. its ability to keep getting stronger no matter how old I am
3. its ability to heal
I’ve been highly physical since I was a kid. I was of the “stay outside til the street lamps come on” generation. I’d return home “smellin’ like the outdoors” after riding bikes, climbing trees, playing kickball, and building forts with the neighborhood kids. But this musty wild child also fell in love with her Royal Academy of Dancing Classical ballet training.