fun is good for you
June 10, 2004 11:26 AM

I wrote a little in my LJ about watching other bellydance/raqs sharqi/whatever students perform and how much the experience of dance training has distanced me from external body projects. That is, I do not think of my body as fat, or at least not of fat as problematic, in the context of training.

It's not an experience of being totally divorced from appearance [it's not that noble], but of recognizing exactly what you are as attractive in movement. Most belly dancers are beautiful. Except that they're not, as far as predominant cultural norms are concerned.

When you think about it, though, how much of your personal feelings about what is and isn't attractive matches perfectly to what you've been told? Not much in my case; I don't know about you. It's no big shock that people can be beautiful and not meet whatever the norm or ideal of your culture may be.

Most of the belly dancers I know are at least in their thirties, and many of them are quite a bit older. And size-wise, they're all over the place. The only common physical characteristic I can see is that even us beginners pretty quickly develop more prominent bellies than other folk. One of my friends has a particular fondness for belly dancers, a fondness that verges on pervy, really. Whatever.

As I thought about the belly dance thing, I assumed that the supportive, all-female environment was a key component of this "yay! my body!" thing. I don't doubt that the environment helps, but I realize that I also have this attitude in the context of all my other physical training, and in play or art - which constitutes the vast majority of the "exercise" I get.

[A total side note, but I've noticed recently that I use "the ______ thing" a lot. Sorry about that, lovely reader. Think of it as an homage to the use of "the ______ question" freaking everywhere in early 20th century political writing, and not in fact a sign of my own sloppy articulation.]

I remember, dimly, times in the past when I treated exercise as a punishment and kinda sought out the worst, most suffering-inducing, ways to exercise (not intentionally). And those are the times when my thinking most aligned to "ew, I'm fat and gross and bad" where things bodily were concerned. Which makes me wonder if the gym isn't hazardous to your mental health. Movement is undoubtedly good, but if you're moving and hating it, maybe you end up hating your body. And conversely, if movement is pleasing, maybe your body seems more attractive for its physical talent.

Not to mention all the other cool stuff that fun movement does for you.

You should read Go Animal, which is all about being healthy by having more fun.

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your wicked thoughts

The gym is on my list of "I hate this. I'm not going to do it anymore, because I hate it and I'm a grown-up now and I get to decide whether or not to do things I hate." Right up there with makeup and dieting. I hate it, and I don't wanna, and that's the end of it. What horrible places most gyms are, anyway. Smelly little dungeons that they are.

Belly dancing's a good idea. I walk, personally.

these are the thoughts of house9 on June 21, 2004 07:00 PM

You should have seen the belly dancers at the Solstice parade! All over the map traditional looks-wise, and all hothothot. I tried to get a picture, but wound up with a lovely shot of my thumb instead. *sigh*

these are the thoughts of jess on June 22, 2004 12:02 AM

"smelly little dungeons" indeed. if the world collapses tomorrow (which might help us with that little walmart issue, not to mention world peace), i suspect archaeologists of the future will be shocked at our willing self-torture.

these are the thoughts of april on June 22, 2004 09:08 AM

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