This post is a reaction to conversations I hear almost every day, to comments I’ve read on YouTube links and posts on Facebook. Somewhere a woman is tearing apart another woman for reasons related to appearance. Oftentimes the women are strangers with nothing but visual presentation to go on– so they pick each other apart for their weight, their hair, their “enhancements,” or their supposed need for enhancements. Several years ago, I had to remove a photo I had posted of a guest dancer from one of my events because a total stranger called her a “skinny bitch.” All this woman saw was a reminder of her own insecurity about her weight because – let’s face it – nobody who feels healthy and balanced criticizes a stranger for looking incredible in two-piece bedlah. This is the sort of thing that reminds me how lucky I am to have a community of students that value a supportive environment. It reminds me of the intrinsic value of dancing with a non-competitive group.
Recently, a student approached me to say, “Thank you for giving all of us a place to feel safe and to celebrate each other’s accomplishments.” It was incredibly sweet but it also got me thinking about how hard we are on our fellow women and how fundamentally unnecessary that is. Just this morning I listened to Senator Barbara Boxer’s speech on DHS funding and I was shocked to see the amount of comments about her hair. This woman just delivered a kick-ass speech with conviction and resolve, but, many people saw value in discussing her appearance. *facepalm*
To be honest, I am pretty fed up with this. I understand that groups of women find comfort and a certain degree of bonding while engaging in a bit of gossip but when it reaches levels of hostility, we have to really think about what good this does. I realize it is impractical and impossible to be friends with everybody. I am not keen on that enormous purple dinosaur who suggested that we’re all a great big family, but, I do think we could all ease up on the cutting words we have for people we don’t even know. Perhaps there will always be jealousy, insecurity, fear and far too much value placed on impossible standards of beauty. What’s a gal to do? Well, the only answer I have is this: dance!
Dancing won’t solve the world’s problems but it will put you in touch with a group of women and suddenly you’ll find yourself cheering for someone when they’ve mastered a movement. You will be surrounded with hugs if you return to class after missing a few weeks. You will probably leave a studio feeling better about yourself than you did when you arrived. It takes time and it takes a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and commit to something larger than yourself. No, dance cannot prevent hatred but if it lifts a group of women to feel camaraderie, in spite of their differences, that is a giant step in the right direction. Before anyone jumps in to say I’m being overly harsh or decides to educate me on where the blame truly lies, just remember this is a blog post of my thoughts. I’m not conducting a research study ( I have spent many years devoted to research studies in the past so I know how labor-intensive they are ). Of course, I cannot speak for every dance form or every dance class. I’m really just asking if we can stop being so hard on each other?
PS: Don’t just take my word for it:
Am J Public Health. 2010 February; 100(2): 254–263.
Tava is a professional bellydancer in NYC and CT. She performs regularly for all family friendly events, galas, weddings and corporate events. Tava also performs in creative/theatrical endeavors and enjoys her balance of commercial and artistic fulfillment. To learn more about classes in Fairfield County, CT or to inquire about hosting Tava for a workshop, please visit: BellydancebyTava.com