New Years Day ! - the day when the diet adverts start, the offers from the gym come through the post and the wrinkle cream ads fill up Facebook. Isn't it wonderful to be reminded that you are old, fat and unfit !
If there is one thing that belly dance has taught me, it is that I am perfect. I don't want to sound self centered (although I am - and that is fine too), but this is as good as it gets. I woke up this morning, therefore I am perfect for the day ahead. I have food for my family, a roof over their heads, time to laugh and smile - that's perfect. My body may not be your idea of perfect, but as long as it processes food, gets me up the stairs and doesn't hurt, then its perfect to me.
Being body positive is knowing that today is a happy day, which deserves to be shared in photos. Its about loving that pink jumper but buying it in the size that fits today, so you can wear it tomorrow. Its about knowing that some people don't like your body shape/hair color/height/sex, but that millions of other people think you are red hot - and neither group matter as long as you and the person you snuggle are perfect. Its heartbreaking to see people who put their life on pause, until they are perfect. Perfect is here and now, its you and me - it can't be a wish for the future, when today is already here.
I feel sad when students tell me they are too big, too tall, too old, too "not perfect" for belly dance. Its simply not true. Because belly dance works with your body, and not against it, you are perfect for belly dance ! There are no rules, only ideas: when you dance a love song, you don't need arms that open wide, or ankles that can support your weight - you need a heart, you need honesty, you need fearlessness....
A great teacher can help you increase your strength, flexibility and coordination. Some people who take belly dance classes loose weight, some tone up, some get great abs. Everyone gets more confident. Confidence comes from learning how far your body will take you, how it can move to the music, how beautiful you feel and look. Confidence is sexy and sometimes it can be life changing.
Take a moment today to say thank you to your beautiful body for all it does for you. Pamper it with good food, lots of water and rest. Put on some music and move, relax and unknot the tensions of the holiday season. Take a look in the mirror and look at the belly dancer. You are the belly dancer, and you are perfect x
Sara Shrapnell is a belly dance writer, teacher and performer.
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