It was just a typical Thursday. A day scheduled full, class and rehearsal and gym and homework.
I was standing in my dance theory class, shoulder-to-shoulder with my classmates as we circled up in the center of the room, all the desks pushed back against the walls.
We had a guest lecturer that day, a performance artist who used her dance background to create art that challenged political, social, and cultural norms. She spoke to us about her training, how she started making performance art, what she hoped her work did. And then she told us, I want to you to try. Let’s explore a bit.
So we did. We found ourselves there, shoulder-to-shoulder.
“I’m going to say a phrase, and I want you to complete it. Whatever comes to mind. Just spit it out. Ready? Performance is…”
We stood, shoulder-to-shoulder, throwing out words, nervously, quickly, quietly, loudly. We nodded and laughed and smiled.
“Performance is…Performance is not…I dance because…Dancing is…Dancing is not…My body is not…”
- My body is not beautiful.
That was the sentence that filled my mind. My body is not beautiful.
I stood there, confused. My body is not beautiful? How could that be the way I completed the phrase, that first word that I grasped out of my consciousness?
You see, my body and I have a long history. There’s been hate, there’s been anger and harsh words. There’s been not-good-enough and not-skinny-enough and not-pretty-enough and not-strong-enough. And lately, slowly, persistently, there’s been love. And acceptance. And deciding, declaring, believing that I am beautiful. That I am enough. That I am loved, that I am worth loving, no matter what.
So why was that the only thing I could think?
My body is not beautiful.
Because years of believing that beautiful is tall, skinny, flawless, not-me – those years don’t erase quickly. Because that lie has burrowed deep, deep down into my soul.
When I look in the mirror, the first thing I spot is whatever is wrong with me.
And I am tired of that. I am so, so tired of that. I’m tired of my default being not beautiful. I’m tired of that lie owning my life. I’m tired of letting other people define my worth in sizes.
Beauty is not paint-by-numbers. Beauty does not have a single definition. Or rather, it does: You.
You are beautiful.
So I will shout from the rooftops, whisper into my reflection, ink on page after page: my body is beautiful.
I will repeat it to myself, day by day by day, until it is as steady as the beat of my heart. Until it replaces the lies.
- Until it is the only thing I believe.
My body is beautiful.
My body is beautiful.
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