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Body Positivity: A Former Dancer’s Point of View

Shoulders back.

Suck in stomach.

Arms straight.

Head up.

Point feet.

Having these orders barked at me and having to stare at my body in the mirror for hours a day, picking out every little detail that was not viewed as “right,” morphed the way I saw myself. When I walked down the street, I would find myself rolling my shoulders back, sucking in my stomach, and keeping my head up. It became natural to keep my posture that way. It became natural to wish I looked perfect, so I wouldn’t need to be a marionette doll every day.

I decided I was going to do all that I could to get the “perfect dancer body.” Instead of eating healthier, I didn’t eat as much. Instead of working out on a schedule and giving myself rest days, I worked out multiple times a day. I was going about it in all the wrong ways. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I discovered my own body positivity.

It is not about working your body, it is about working your mind.

Yes. Body positivity can be loving yourself while working out, but it is more about training your mind. When you hate how you look, your self-esteem will slowly reflect that. The most important part of body positivity is finding your confidence again, so you can own your body.

There is no one way to find confidence in yourself. For me, I became a vegetarian and cut out dairy. I started working out on a regular schedule, and I looked to friends for moral support. Feeling physically healthy made me want to show others how good I felt – and that lead me to being more confident.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Realize the media is fake.

I know with the media and the fashion industry being everywhere, it is hard to look away from all the pictures of these beautiful models, but know it isn’t real. Unless an image says, “no retouch,” the picture was retouched and edited.

Fully grasping the idea that magazine images were retouched to the max helped me to not look up to those models as realistic body standards. I wanted to look how they did, until I realized even they didn’t look how their pictures did.

The fashion industry has been taking a step forward by showing different body types in their shoots. Many celebrities have also started calling out their retouched images, so everyone can see how they really look. These two minor steps are impacting the media a lot. It is bittersweet, but in fashion, body positivity is a fad right now. Let’s just hope it’ll last.

Love yourself!

Now, I know that it’s easier said than done, but it is time we become fearless. 2018 has been about female empowerment and standing up for what you believe in. Be unapologetic about who you are and how you look. Embrace your beautiful body. Show the world your confidence, and they will see how empowered you truly are.

Take notes from models Ashley Graham and Kate Upton, or singer Alicia Keys. These girls are breaking walls by being plus sized models on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Alicia Keys says she hasn’t been wearing makeup because “I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.” It is time we start to look up to girls like these and not photoshopped images.

As I stated earlier, I got my confidence back when I improved how I felt physically, but I also got it back when I left the dance lessons in the studio. Dance is beautiful, but it is very strict. Everyone is always talking about the ballerina body. If you do not look a certain way, you will never be a professional dancer.

Once I separated the dance world from my everyday life, I began to stop picking out my imperfections and noticed all that I love about myself. They started off as little traits, from my light freckles, to how my green eyes pop in the sunlight, and then on to bigger things like how all my years of dance have given me strong thighs. What helped me find my self-love may not be what will help you. It’ll take time but being you and being proud will stay with you forever.

Photo Credit: Flickr “YOU ARE WANTED. Big, small, tall, short, pretty, plain, friendly, shy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, not even yourself. Especially yourself.” ―Jennifer Niven

 

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