October 6, 2016
Confidence Is The New Beautiful
Hello Beauty Shakers!
So I met this fabulous woman a little over a year ago in August 2015. I was at the Jewels of the Orient Bellydance Conference in Delaware and she was vending her gorgeous apparel. I was not only drawn to her shiny and sparkly tanks, but I was drawn to her beauty. She had an infectious smile from ear to ear and eyes that lit up her face. Well, we talked for a while and she told me her story of why she does what she does. And when I left her vending table, I thought, “Dang, I want to be her when I finally grow up!” So, I felt compelled to share her story with you. Enjoy.
The Secret to Un-wavering Confidence
Quick – if I asked you what body part you could change if you could, what would it be? Bat wing arms? Thick legs? Is your butt too big or too small? Would you lose that abdominal pouch or “apron”? (and not the one with strings)
You may be the exception, but studies show that women, on average have 13 negative thoughts about their bodies each day, and 97% of women admit to having at least 1 “I hate my body” moment EVERY day. The question is: why? How will having thinner arms, a flatter stomach, or a perfect round “onion” change your life? The truth is, it won’t. You won’t be any smarter, funnier or more successful. Some may argue that having less of this or that will give you more confidence and that may be true, but then what? What happens if (when) you gain it back? Do you kiss that confidence goodbye and go back to being a wallflower? That’s certainly an option but it’s not realistic. So what is? What is the key to confidence that remains consistent throughout weight fluctuations and other imperfections? The key, is loving your body no matter what state it’s in. Impossible? Not at all.
I’ve been plus size all my life but not the most confident person in the world. I hid in the shadows, fearful of being noticed or ridiculed for my size. I’d tried diet after diet and nothing changed. Then one day a friend called and it changed my life forever.
Several years ago, a friend invited me to take a bellydance class. I looked at her like she’d lost her mind. “Big girls don’t belly dance,” I said while giving her the side eye. “oh yes they do,” was her reply. Unconvinced, I turned back to the task at hand. She persisted but I was unmoved. She’d been taking classes for several months and when she realized I wasn’t having it, she invited me to her first recital. “Sure” I said. I was willing to help but NOT willing to be noticed. I planned to sit in the dark auditorium, clap appropriately and go home. But that was not to be. I went and was shocked at what I saw. Women (some of whom looked like me) dancing freely (and beautifully) across the stage. Costumes were flowing and bellies…..were exposed! My mouth opened, and the myths began to shatter. I was in awe. I sat there, blinking and sure I was dreaming. The audience was responding–clapping, and squealing, “ooohing and ahh-ing”. As I watched, the women formed a circle and each dancer had a brief solo. To my amazement, the thicker girls were getting the biggest responses. One woman stood in the center of the circle. All eyes were on her. She began to pump her legs back and forth, slowly at first then very rapidly. As she did, her whole body began to vibrate, her mid-section was jiggling and it was beautiful. She jiggled from one side to the next, hips in motion. The crowd went wild and I was hooked.
A few months later I took my first class and it was love at first shimmy. Sure, I felt awkward and clumsy–hip drops, undulations and 3/4 shimmies are not the easiest things to master, but I stuck with it. Why? Because I started to feel confident, sensual and sexy. I carried myself differently, I spoke with confidence and I loved what my body was doing. I moved through the world like I had a secret. And, in a way I did.
Those of us who dance know how powerful and transformative it can be. It’s better than any mood-altering drug and more intoxicating that your favorite girly drink. Some may not agree but I insist: If you want to start loving your body, teach it to move in ways you never thought it could……dance.
Learning to dance was only the beginning, stay tuned and I’ll tell you how bellydance changed me professionally as well.
Born in the caribbean, Iona always had rhythm but never felt comfortable dancing until she discovered Bellydance. She lives in Maryland where in addition to being the owner of ShimmySista, she is the director of marketing for a state agency. She loves all things creative and seeks to inspire women of all shapes and sizes to live boldly and to “own their fabulous”. Her motto: dance like no one’s watching, and if they are, invite them to join you!
“Helping you look as beautiful as dancing makes you feel”™