The Body Struggle is Real.
I spent the better part of my life extremely under weight. It wasn’t an eating disorder. I was a strange child and was not picky with food. I would order salmon at restaurants when I was ten years old. I ate a ton of really terrible fast food. I loved subs. Ramen Noodles were my jam. I think the only thing I didn’t like was mac and cheese or too much sauce on things. Gross. Still won’t eat saucy things. I’ve literally thrown up from too much sauce on my pizza.
I should have been huge honestly. But, being a dancer my metabolism was insane. Also, being a dancer I spent my entire life staring at myself in a mirror.
Hours upon hours a day. “Pull up, suck in, belly’s in, straighten your legs, head up, chin up, tail bone under, shoulders back, shoulders down, push up, longer, stronger, lengthen, higher, faster…” Always comparing yourself to the next girl. Always a competition.
This is just the reality of it. Dance has been my entire life and I would not change one thing about it. But, the reality is.. my sense of what my body has looked like over the years is incredibly… skewed.
There was a point when I was a teenager that people actually did think I had an eating disorder and would have conversations with my mom about it. She would continuously have to say, “I can’t get the girl to stop eating!”
Ha. Clearly still my problem.
I just could not gain weight for the life of me. I remember specifically one time someone saying, “OMG you FINALLY have a roll when you bend over!!” I can’t forget the, “you are such a twig.” Or, “Put some meat on those bones.” I don’t understand what makes it okay for people to say someone is “too skinny.” It is the same to say someone is “too fat.” Not to mention the years of hearing, “you need to eat a burger.”
I was obsessed with hamburgers thank you very much.
Well, then I started working on ships. I remember for years I was a size zero in jeans. One day, towards the end of my first contract, I just couldn’t fit into the size zero jeans anymore. I was trying everything. Laying down, standing up, sucking in, jumping, I had half of my cast literally trying to pull them up for me.
It didn’t bother me so much, yet.
I think after I got breast implants is when my weight really hit me. I remember walking up to my boss in rehearsals and apologizing for my weight and telling him I would lose it as soon as possible. He giggled a little and told me not to apologize because I looked very healthy. It was probably the first time in my life that I looked like I was actually eating. In saying that, this was the first point in my life where I remember thinking how huge I was.
Yes, Huge is the exact word I would have used on myself.
So until I was about 22 I thought I was too skinny. I hated my body because I looked like a child and not a woman. I got my breasts enhanced and then gained a “TON” of weight, or so it felt like. Since that point I have, in my mind, been “HUGE” and overweight. And once again, have hated my body.
There came a point that the “you are way too skinny” and “put some meat on your bones” turned into “you have really big legs”, “you look like you are pregnant”, “you are a fat ass,” “shouldn’t dancers be skinny”, “you should work on your diet”, “you are pretty big to be a dancer.”
It’s crazy to look back at photos during times when I “thought” I was fat. What I would GIVE to look like that right now. There were times when I was in great shape. The best shape I was ever in was when I was an aerialist on my contracts. But even then, I wasn’t “skinny” enough in my eyes. I don’t think I was skinny “enough” in the eyes of my directors either. I recall one time specifically where I knew I didn’t get the part because my legs looked bigger in the costume than the other girls. Can you imagine you are about to get promoted and your boss brings you in and says, “actually the other person going for that just looks better in a suit than you do.”
And this is what it’s like.
My thighs are too much thigh. My butt has too much cellulite. My hips are too wide. My belly is too fat. I have too many rolls. When I lift my arms they look too big. When I walk my legs touch. My arms are too long. My hands are too big. My scoliosis makes my left shoulder higher and that’s not pretty. Every single time I see it, it bothers me. My boobs definitely weren’t big enough. My lips are too small, my nose is too stuck up, my eyebrows aren’t perfect.
Of course I feel this way. I stared in a mirror correcting and criticizing myself almost the entirety of my life.
Isn’t it strange though, if I said I liked all these things about me, then everyone would say, “too cocky. Not humble enough. You love yourself too much. Your ego is too big.”
God forbid you allow people to love their bodies the way they are.
I’m not saying other people don’t have these thoughts about what they look like. But for dancers who have to look a certain way.. Well, it is more “normal” for us to have these ideas in our heads about what we “look like”. Sorry, more like what we think we look like.
Years of weigh-ins, staring at yourself in a mirror, not getting work because of your body and having to take photos in a bra and underwear will do that to you.
I have always joked that I can’t wait to get pregnant because it will be the first time in my life I can be big and not feel bad about myself. And my God I hope that is true. Because it would be a miracle for me to get pregnant, so I really pray I appreciate it when the time comes.
I would be devastated if I went the route I have my whole life and hated my body for what it looked like instead of what it is capable of.. For once..
This isn’t a post actually about how to look at the positive of it. Because I still have yet to figure that out. I can say all day to my friends and family that they are beautiful inside and out and have beautiful bodies. That our bodies are strong and incredible and can do these incredible things.
Which is true, they can and they are.
Maybe I’m just trying to say. I get it. It is difficult loving your body. It is difficult in times of photoshop and social media to love your body. It is difficult as a dancer to love your body. It is difficult as a mom of three children to love your body.
It’s a work in progress I guess. Loving your body the way it is.
I look forward to the day when I can be proud of my body and love my body for what it is, in the present. No looking back at what it once was or hoping for what I want it to be.
Loving what it is in the present. Loving what it is capable of.
Always a work in progress.