Achieving a “dancer’s” size: on costume-induced body panic

You know that weird mix of excitement and dread?

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My first ever show! On campus at Pratt Institute in 2008. I was so terrified, I purposefully didn’t wear contacts so I couldn’t see the crowd.

It always reminds me of the feeling I used to get as a kid, when I couldn’t wait for my birthday, which happened to be a week before school started.

So, the big news is that my belly dance partner and crime K and I are debuting February 13th at Jebon on St. Marks place. I am so. Freaking. Excited. We’re been rehearsing really hard for a few months now with all original choreography, so now that we’ve done the work, it’s the fun part: costumes.

Hahahahaha fun? Bitch please. Try horrifying.

Let me first clarify that I like my body. It has served me very well in my time. That said, I am (ew barf I can’t believe I have to use this word) “womanly.” I have visible abs, but I’m also a little soft in places. This seems to me to be perfectly natural since, duh, i’m a woman. I eat healthy and I got plenty of exercise (in the studio, the gym, and carrying groceries up to my 4th floor walk up).

My body does what I ask of it on the pole, on the floor, and every place in between, so I’m thoroughly happy with it and the worrying ends there.

That is, until I put on the belly dance costume.

(NOTE:: ****I should clarify that the top half of this costume i’s not so much a costume as it is a balconet bra I bought at H&M. I have ginormous boobs, and “real” belly dance bras only come in small, medium, and large. I’m quite small (32″ band) AND large (D-DD), so, my options are limited.)

Me and K now, after a show

So anyway, here I am in the studio, under florescent lighting, in a freaking BRA, undulating my way down into a crouching position from THE SIDE. SO YOU CAN SEE ALL THE FAT ROLLS. AHHHHHH. And I’m panicking. Is 2 weeks enough time to lose 5 pounds? Can self tanner somehow magically help?

The really f***ed up thing is I’m in the greatest shape of my life right now. I LOVE how I look in clothes (thanks, pole!). But I feel like the standards for a body being displayed during a dance performance are totally different.

Like the hardcore-ness of your body is directly related to your amount of skill and self discipline in dancing.

Like no matter how hard I work nailing difficult moves, a soft middle screams “wannabe” anyway.

It’s very discouraging. And it doesn’t help that K is TINY. She’s both petite and about 90 pounds, so not only do I look a little on the flabby side next to her but I look like a freaking giant too. This is bad, guys. Please help me. I have two weeks.

Here’s my plan so far:

1. Focus on healthy fats and protein

I can’t starve myself right now, mostly because I really do need a lot of food for my lifestyle. I’m talking back to back pole classes and THEN a workout at the gym. None of these places are convenient locations for fainting. Also, fuck starving yourself. No.

BUT. If anything dials down on belly pudge, it’s skipping bread and sugar, right? Can’t hurt anyway.

2. Take care of my skin

I feel extra repulsive when all that extra flesh is also dry and icky looking. Now until February 13th is officially Exfoliation and Lotion Time. And performance night is going to require a shit ton of freaking shimmer, I don’t give a fuck. Yes.

3. Fluids?

This one I’m a tad sketchy on. A trainer friend of mine who also happens to be a show wrestler (hulk hogan type as opposed to skinny guys in jumpsuits, on mats) swears by this: chug tons of water in the weeks leading up to the event (to flush out bloat), then scale way back on fluids the day before and day of the event. I think I remember reading that Adriana Lima does this before Victoria’s Secret shows. I also remember thinking that it was batshit crazy.

Honestly I probably won’t do this one, except for the “drinking tons of fluids” part. That part seems good.

4. Self tanner

Yeah, actually, maybe not. Flabby and orange isn’t really an improvement on flabby and pale. Strike this one.

5. Beg K to let me change the angles on certain things

Crouching from the side… eesh. Or maybe we can incorporate some veil work here? Specifically holding up a veil to cover ourselves as we crouch from the side?

Here’s a funny story: one time, a woman came into my spins class and said she’d been wanting to take my class for months. I asked her why she waited so long. She said she thought she needed to lose 10 pounds before she could take a class like pole. (She was very, very slightly overweight by the way, this was not a safety issue).

Wait, did I say funny story? I meant a sad story, about a woman who didn’t think she was good enough at her current weight to take a damn EXERCISE CLASS.

WTF society, look what you’re doing. Stahp.

Anyway, how do you guys feel about the weight issue with pole? It’s hard to see all the top people in our sport looking soooooo tiny in their equally small costumes, and feel like we still have permission to even try.

Does fear about your body hold you back from performing? From wearing certain clothes to class?

Have you ever tried to lose weight for a show? (if so TELL ME ALL OF YOUR SECRETS)

Pole Pleaser, Pole Spins, and Intro to Pole tonight! 7,8, and 9pm, respectively. Hope to see you!

And here’s your official invitation to the belly dance show! Yes, they spelled my name wrong. Come for the frozen sake, stay for (possibly orange), nervous-looking belly dancer 😉

Happy Twirls!

Cathy

2 Comments

  1. um i’ve been to two classes so i dunno if i’m qualified to answer the weight thing but i’m going to. rebel.
    yeah i waited 2 and a half years promising myself id lose weight then go…. then i decided NAT! imma go! i need a buddy…. my friend lisa ( who btw is over a foot shorter than me and realllllly tiny) agreed to come with…. then i messed her about for 3 months with dumb excuses because i felt too fat…. she forced me to go two weeks ago which at first i was really upset about because i felt so ridiculous but no-one treated me differently, i’m not taught differently, i’m just a girl on the beginner side of the room…..
    i mean i still am aware when i’m the biggest in class but….i just get on with it…. i’m always gonna be the biggest in class if i don’t get my ass on the pole!
    <3

    • as a teacher, you have no idea how often I hear this–“I want to come to a class, but I need to lose 10 pounds first.” So crazy to me! Everybody is so focused on their own progress and what THEY look like in the mirror. They’re not looking at you, I promise. And yes, pole is an incredible workout, especially if you continually push yourself. So if the goal is weight loss, why wait? Get started! I’ve seen girls that stick with it from spins to inversions get into INCREDIBLE shape. (and PS. In my experience, the girls that hate on other dancers are coming more from a place of how they feel about themselves, not you. And if the haterade is coming from OUTSIDE the studio, pardon my french, but bitches be JEALOUS. Trust me. It takes balls to get on a pole. They wish they could do what you do, but they’re too scared! Don’t let ’em stop you, life is too short!!)

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