NEDA Week 2016

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As Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to an end, I am taking the last few hours of this day to think about how my life has changed ever since I entered recovery.

At age 17, I started dieting to lose weight. When the weight refused to come off I went to more extreme and unstable methods to drop the pounds. I would skip meals, cut out for groups, count calories and run for hours on end. I was scared to eat out, refused to eat sweets and choose salads for meals, only to return home later and binge.

At 20, I began purging and I started getting depressed. I did my best to maintain my grades – which I did – but I was slowly drowning. I’d wake promising myself I wouldn’t binge, but I’d fail. I hated the way my body looked and refused to dress in anything other than black. I hated taking pictures. I wanted to lose weight. I was scared of food.

At 21, I became suicidal. I knew I needed help, but I was afraid of telling my mother. At 21, you’re supposed to be young and free, living your life with adventures and milkshakes, laughing at your mistakes and falling in love and traveling with friends. You’re not supposed to be suicidal at 21.

At 22, I started going for therapy, saw a dietician and trying to turn my life around. My psychologist stayed with me for 1 year to help me work on my issues but unfortunately, my eating did not get any better.

At 23, I doubled up my efforts in recovering. I was going through heartbreak and in an effort to reinvent myself, I focused on becoming a better person. Instead of focusing on eating, I focused on mindfulness and discovered the meaning & importance of self-love.

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Every since then my eating has slowly improved. I immersed myself in the eating disorder recovery and body positive community for support and am slowly emerging from my self-created prison. I’m learning to reject the standards of beauty society has, surrounding myself with people who encourage and support me throughout my journey & working on embracing my body for what it is. I’m learning to define myself in more than just physical looks. I’m slowly finding my confidence, becoming the woman I want to be, becoming more experimental with my clothing and style to express myself because my low self-esteem and self-hatred prevented me from embracing my identity.

I’ve been recovering for 3 years now, and I am still recovering. I don’t know whether I will fully recover in the future and I’m scared to think that one day I will relapse, but I tell myself that no matter how hard it is I will keep going. I will try to embrace every bit of my body and imperfections because I do not ever wish to return to the girl I was 5 years ago. I’ve tasted freedom and I want it. Sure there are days when I choose to eat less because I felt bloated and disgusting, and yes there are days when I hate my body and want to curl under my blankets, and yes I have moments when I compare myself to other girls wishing I had her body and okay there are times when I choose to exercise because I wanted to lose weight to be skinnier. But that’s ok because no one said recovery was going to be easy.

I’m not perfect and all that matters at the end of the day is that I choose recovery over quitting. 

I’m not fully recovered, but everyday I do my best to be the best version I can be and do my best to stick to the habits that promote recovery instead of those that support my disorder because I am worth, and deserve to live a life free from an eating disorder. I am not meant to be dieting and starving and crying. Life is not meant try fitting into a small size, gain approval and validation from others, & comparing yourself to other people wishing you were taller, skinnier, leaner and/or prettier.

I don’t want to be spending the rest of my life worrying about whether or not I ate too much, whether I’m skinny enough and pretty enough, how much exercise I should do to burn off all those calories. Instead I am meant to spread my wings and fly to live my life, gain experiences, make the  mistakes I’m supposed to make in my 20s so I can look back and laugh til I cry, go on whirlwind adventures, fall in love, dance to my heart’s content, wear my favorite outfits without shame or embarrassment, watch sunsets, dance in the rain (yes I love doing that), watch cupcake tutorials without feeling guilt and eat exotic food.

I am not meant to be defined by my weight, my size or my physical appearance. I am more than that. Ever since embarking on recovery I have started defining myself by my strength, my loyalty, my determination, my sass, my passion and the love in my heart.

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To all those out there on the path of recovery – you are worth recovery. You deserve to live a fulfilled life and you deserve happiness. It will be challenging, it will be difficult, it will be effortful and it will be painful, but you will find strength from your struggles and you will realize that the person that emerges from the ashes is one who is awesome and who is powerful, and you will begin to wonder why you haven’t met him/her sooner, and you will want to continue seeing how much this person will grow and see who this person will finally become. 

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Choose recovery. Choose happiness. Choose acceptance. Choose self-love. Choose life. 

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#BornAndMade

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I love campaigns that seek to empower women. In a society that bombards us with messages telling us that we’re not skinny enough, not beautiful enough, not strong enough and not powerful enough, its sometimes easy to forget that our purpose here on Earth isn’t to look and be beautiful to gain the approval of others.

The #BornAndMade campaign is a marvelous brainchild collaboration between beauty brand Carol’s Daughter & activist organization I Am That Girl that aims to bring all girls and women together and celebrate their individual beauty, worth and uniqueness. By extending the message of self-love, it hopes to remind women that they are already beautiful and worthy and that they don’t need to fix themselves to live up to the expectations of what other people see as beautiful.

In a world where many of us struggle to find our authentic selves, its important for us women to remember our strength, our worth, our value & our beauty. Whilst making my own personalized picture on the website, I reflected on my journey – the obstacles, the triumphs and the failures, my struggle with recovering from an eating disorder since I was 17 & my journey to developing a more positive body image. It’s made me realize that I managed to overcome every obstacle that life has thrown at me. Up til this point I have survived everything that has been thrown my way. Up til this point in my life I have a 100% survival rate and I’m damn proud of that. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder
  2. Beauty is more than just physical looks.

We live in a society that measures beauty in terms of physical attractiveness; where beauty is defined within the parameters of such small characteristics and by standards are not all women can actually achieve. I mean how the hell am I supposed to get my eyes to grow bigger if you say women with big deep set eyes are considered beautiful? I can put on mascara but once I remove it, am I no longer beautiful? Despite being a modern society, women are still are commoditized; a commodity to be judged and valued based on how small your waist is, how busty you are, how clear your skin is, how smooth your hair feels, how straight your teeth are, the curves on your body, even our sexual orientation and sexual history. If a woman is too thin, she has anorexia; if she’s big she’s obese.

As women we need to be empowered to not only recognize this, but also reject it and bask in our own uniqueness & embrace them. We need to know what we are made of because that is what helps us continue being our true authentic selves. If we are constantly seeking validation from others, then we have lost ourselves; our worth has become displaced.

If you say I’m beautiful, thank you I accept that compliment whole-heartedly 😀 But I’m not just a beauty. I can’t always base my self-worth and self-esteem on physical looks because I’m never going to truly happy that way. Its taken me a long and incredibly tumultuous time to accept that I have a curvy body, and that I can never be thin enough for anybody. Even now I still struggle with feeling good about myself because I still struggle with wanting to be taller, thinner and leaner. Looks can and will eventually fade, and when they do, its what’s underneath them that will make you who you are. Love yourself enough to know that you are not defined by your looks, your weight or your size. Embrace you who are on the inside, instead of trying to be one that others think you should be. 

So let me ask you: how will you describe yourself if all of us women looked exactly the same? What sets you apart? What makes you special? What makes you you?

Underneath my physical exterior, I’m also insightful, I’m smart and I’m creative. I can make people laugh, I can dance salsa and bachata, I love watching Sex and the City and action movies. I’ve traveled on my own, I wake up everyday and continue fighting the demons that make me exhausted the day before, Some days I love my body but on other days I cry about it. I’m witty, I can be indecisive and I’m a performing arts junkie. I’ve been lost but I end up finding myself. I’m not going to base my self-worth on what you think is beautiful because that’s disempowering. Beauty is subjective and I refuse to be disempowered. Yeah I’m gonna fall every now and then, but I’m going to get back up on my feet because

I am made with strength and a whole lotta sass.

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self-comparison: celebrities vs. peers

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I’ve been going through this phase recently where I started wanting to become thin. Or rather, thinner than I currently am right now. I know what has brought this on, and I can sense the disconnect between two opposing forces. One that pulls in the direction of dieting to lose weight and be skinny, and another force pulling in the opposite direction that knows the possible consequences of such obsessive thinking about weight loss and ideals.

One of the reasons that boosted this increased desire to diet and exercise (and not in the healthiest of ways) to get a skinny body comes from self-comparison. I read a few fashion blogs once in a while, and the reason I read these particular blogs is because the fashion bloggers have a body type that is more or less similar to mine. They’re not thin/slim (like many fashion bloggers I see online), but they’re curvier (though not plus size) & its actually always nice to look at fashion blogs by curvier bloggers because its always nice to look at the fashion choices of girls with body types similar to yours. It serves as a guides of sorts that gives you an idea of how to pull styles off that are suitable for your body type & inspire you to  wear certain clothing types, especially clothing types you never really dared to wear because I always found my body too flawed to wear it, such as sleeveless tops in my case as I’m usually quite insecure about my arms to wear them.

We all know what that is, but I think that many of us don’t truly understand what it really entails. Self-comparison is the thief of joy; Don’t compare yourself to others because we all have different body types. When it comes to understanding what self-comparison really means, we take its definition and understanding at but face value.  

In my sophomore year of university I did an independent research project entitled “Is Facebook Making You Feel Fat? The Effects of Facebook on Body Image Satisfaction”. Its well documented that many individuals who view images of thin celebrities and models experience a range of negative effects such as a decrease in body satisfaction and increase in the desire to eat less and exercise more. With the popularity of social media usage in today’s society, I wanted to extend this above mentioned finding to discover whether exposure to a thin peer on Facebook will lead to a decrease in body satisfaction as well.

Anyway, we all know that when we compare ourselves to celebrities or models with desirable body types, we sometimes tend to get jealous of them because we know we can almost never look like them even if we gave in our 110%. Since when can we afford to hire personal chefs and fitness trainers to give us the top-knotch body that we’ve had our eye on anyway? I admit to comparing myself to media figures in the earlier days of my eating disorder, but I also compare myself to other role models; in other words, the model of comparison is people who are more similar to me – friends, the average woman on the street with a regular job who isn’t a celebrity, the women I see on social media.

The other woman. 

Its well known exposure to thin celebrities can potentially decrease body satisfaction, but its also argued, and empirically supported, that people can a bigger decrease in satisfaction when they see a peer with a thinner body than theirs. Psychology purports that while we compare ourselves to celebrities, we actually sometimes prefer to compare ourselves to our peers. Why? Because we’re not celebrities. Its like comparing pasta to pizza. Celebrities don’t lead the same lifestyles as us. We know we can’t almost like them because they can afford to attain the body that they have. They are a standard that we can’t really reach and so instead, we turn to someone who is more similar than us to evaluate ourselves because being on the same level as us means that they are a standard that we can, and in our minds should be able to reach up to.

Do any of you ever feel envious of your friends at times because he/she has a body shape that you don’t? Studies have found for instance, adolescents tended to compare their weight & height to their peers instead of to models and celebrities. Participants had reported feeling worse about their body when they saw pictures of a thin peer as compared to an overweight one. I’ve experienced this myself pretty often. Take these fashion bloggers for instance, when I see at some are skinnier than me, or bustier than me, I get jealous, because being of similar body shape and body size, I expected myself to be able to look more like them. But I couldn’t. If they lost weight, I felt even more worse, because if she can lose weight, then I should be able to, and must lose weight to, because in my mind, we are more or less the same.

Humans have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others because the information we acquire from self-comparison allows us to evaluate ourselves and check for the need for improvement if necessary. We all the best for ourselves. So do I. When I see that someone I know has lost weight I get envious, because if she can lose weight, so can I. But I’m not losing weight. Its not just fashion bloggers. Even weight-loss success stories of peers and other non-celebrities that I read of on social media; I get more jealous of them than those of celebrities, because celebrities are just so dissimilar to me and I live in a world quite different from them. But my peers, and the average non-celebrity out there on the planet are also struggling to get in better shape the same way I am. If they can lose weight, why the hell can’t I?! This most definitely stems from my competitive and ambitious streak. I don’t just want to get better; I want to be the best. I want to help people, but I also want to be better. Is that a bad thing? Well, I suppose in instances like this, it can be a bad thing. Honestly though it doesn’t mean I’m a Regina George who wants to put other people down. It just means I have incredibly high expectations of myself that sometimes overwhelms me and take control of me.

I am starting to mistake self-comparison for inspiration. 

Its not necessarily a bad thing, but when it starts to become overwhelming and motivate you to be skinny to be better and compels you to start thinking about unhealthy things such as crash-dieting, restricting and obsessive exercising, then something is wrong.

 This is what’s happening to me & this is where I sit down and think to myself like I always do when my mind gets too overwhelmed and I’m trying to find reasons for my thoughts and behaviors.

Am I comparing myself to my peers and other regular women? Yes. Does it make me want to be skinny? Yes. Can you please remember that every woman’s body is different and that comparing yourself only makes you more anxious about your body and given your past tendencies of disordered eating, do you want to risk a relapse? No. Do you know all these negative thinking and considerations about crash-dieting are incredibly unkind to your body? Yes. So now what?

Now I just need to just redivert my energies and change my thought patterns whenever I start thinking these kinds of things and whenever I start comparing myself to others. Do I want to get skinnier? I’ll be honest, a part of me does want to. But after going through recovery for a year, I’ve become smarter and stronger enough to know that I shouldn’t turn to all the negative things I did to my body. I need to continue to learn how to learn myself while becoming who I want to be. Its more important to be healthy than it is to be skinny. These women aren’t celebrities themselves but then they I have qualities & strengths that they don’t. If I start comparing myself to them, I’m just doing myself a disservice, disempowering myself even more AND making me feel even worse about myself.

Regardless of whether a person is a celebrity, a peer, a fashion blogger, a woman on the street, remember that everyone’s body type, metabolism and lifestyles are different & self-comparison is disempowering and robs you of your happiness & your individuality. The only thing I should be doing is focus on my own recovery & the only person that you should be better than, is the person that you were yesterday.

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Meghan Trainor Part 1: what i think about her interview comments on “trying anorexia”

To those of you who aren’t entirely kept in the loop about this situation, Meghan Trainor has unceremoniously rattled some cages because she had made some comments about body positivity and anorexia in an interview with Entertainment Tonight which might not have been the most sensitive towards those struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. They say that pictures speak a thousand words, so in a nutshell, here was what went down:

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Question. Why would you “try” anorexia?

I agree with what Demi Lovato and many other angry individuals have had to say in response: that anorexia, or any other eating disorder for that matter, isn’t about strength. From this comment, Meghan glamorizes eating disorders such that eating disorders are something that require strength and willpower; something that not all people achieve; that only the strong, mighty and powerful will get because they have “what it takes” to get an eating disorder. In another strange perspective, the end goal is something that’s supposedly glamorous and worthy only of the strong. Like Thor and that unearthly hammer of his.

To those who took offense at Meghan’s comments. I understand. I really do.  When I read “tried being anorexic”, I was like ” What do you mean try anorexia. You can’t try anorexia. Anorexia is a lifestyle choice that SHOULDN’T be made at all in the first place. No one just wakes up one day and goes I think I should like to try surviving on 500 calories a day, weighing yourself obsessively and losing your hair and muscle mass? ” Anorexia can kill people. People can spend hours agonizing over whether an apple will make them gain weight, exercise excessively, weigh their food, cut out entire food groups and count calories. You don’t just try anorexia. It is not a dietary option. 

But then I thought, does she even know what it means to have anorexia? Where did she get her information from? Where does her current perceptions of anorexia and eating disorder come from?

She’s actually not the only one…

 You know, I myself made a silly comment once by saying something along the lines of “if you were strong enough to restrict your food intake, then you are strong enough to fight for eating disorder”. Clearly I didn’t know that the word “strength” was inappropriate in that particular context even though I myself was restricting and bingeing.  I thought I was helping others and frankly speaking, didn’t really think my words through because what was on the forefront of my mind was wanting to help somebody. Plus, I was just fresh into recovery myself. I didn’t understand what was happening with me, let along any other eating disorders for that matter.

You know what I think? I think that Meghan probably did have good intentions when she made that comment; intentions that just came out sounding wrong because she, like so many other people, just don’t fully understand what it means to have an eating disorder. They know that an eating disorder is awful, but just don’t know how ago about telling it to another person because they’ve never personally experienced it.

When I started becoming slightly more open about my eating disorder and relayed my experiences to some people, I’ve had some them tell me “Whoa, I can’t be like you, I’ve never really had the willpower to go on an extreme diet like that. Not strong enough”. Seriously. They likened going on an extreme diet to willpower and strength. But I didn’t get offended at that. How could I, when I knew that they really didn’t mean it because they don’t understand something they’ve never personally been through? Well sure you need willpower to go on a diet, but not willpower and strength for anorexia or other eating disorders for that matter. The outstanding difference between the former and the latter is that in the former, you can stop dieting anytime you want, and diets as we all know, are prone to failure. People go on diets almost all the time and they give up almost all the time as well. When they reach their goal, they either stop dieting, or maintain their goal weight by sustaining their diet but less than before. When they don’t reach their goal weight or lose motivation, they just give the diet & go back being happier than surviving on salads but hold the mayo thanks. But eating disorders? It can be addictive. You don’t just stop being anorexic like you stop dieting. Its more than the visceral. Its the mental. People with eating disorders tend to have distorted perceptions about their body. They believe their bodies to be wrong and ugly and needs to be changed. Its about control and perfectionism and the need to coform to a particular standard of beauty than it is about health. People can die from anorexia mind you.

Like many people, their understand of eating disorders come from the media: movies and Hollywood and the like. We read about celebrities struggling with anorexia and bulimia and other forms of disordered eating and we read their accounts of their ordeals and the changes their bodies go through. We read about Mary-Kate Olsen telling us her scary diet she was on & we’ve seen Nicole Richie’s skeletal frame in a bikini. On the surface, we know what involves and will list off things such as “severely underweight”, “think that they are severely overweight when they are actually very thin”, but many of us tend to take it at face value as opposed to truly grasping its meaning. Just like myself and my understanding of gambling addiction. I know the symptoms. I studied abnormal psychology and studied the DSM. I can tell you what is symptomatic of anxiety disorder, but I will not ever truly understand the impulse that comes with it. I won’t ever truly understand the anxieties they feel when they don’t gamble. I won’t ever fully understand why they break therir promise of not going gambling ever again. I won’t ever fully grasp their thought processes. I am not them, and they are not me.

One won’t ever fully understand the journey of another person, unless you are walking on the same path. 

That’s why Demi Lovato is a role model for so many people struggling with eating disorders, self harm and body image issues. She’s been there. She knows what we are going through. She can find words the things we don’t know how to express. But Meghan? Probably not so much. Which is why even though Meghan sings about body confidence, I’d rather turn to Demi because the girl gets me. And I her.

So back to Meghan

Neither you nor I know Meghan personally. I don’t know the extent of her disordered eating or the extent to which she attempted eating disorder. As of now I do know she doesn’t completely understand the complexities of eating disorders as much as other people who’ve struggled with it for years, who’ve read up lots about it, who’ve shared their personal stories, who know how to speak about it & approach sensitive issues because they’ve been speaking about it for a long time to others. Miss Trainor’s been on the scene a few good months and I don’t know this for sure, I highly suspect that she wasn’t fully prepared for this interview and probably might not have bargained on sharing a lot of details about her personal life, including the “trying out anorexia” bit. So in all honesty, she probably just should have just kept quiet about EDs because she clearly isn’t sufficiently educated about eating disorders to make a comment. I mean its pretty straightforward. If you know nada about an issue, then don’t comment on it, or throw in a disclaimer: “I don’t claim to know much about eating disorders” or ” I’ve never had an eating disorder so if my comments offend anybody, forgive me.” etc. Communication skills, girl. Communication.

So why is she getting so much flak when she’s not the only one?

For the record, Meghan isn’t the only celebrity who actually said she tried being anorexic:

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That’s right people that’s Kat Dennings.

She’s our feisty Max Black in 2 Broke Girls and she herself had said that she had “tried being anorexic for 4 hours” before needing some bagels in her interview with Philadelphia back in 08’ which you can read here. I tried Googling to see I there was the same kind of public outcry that Meghan is now receiving, but I didn’t. No blog posts, none on message boards. Her’s quotes been immortalized on Pinterst and Tumblr though. So why Meghan and not Kat? Why didn’t anyone glitter bomb and throw roaches at her? I don’t really know. My guess is back in 2008, she wasn’t a very well known celebrity, and campaigns for body positivity and eating disorder weren’t the rage and nobody really paid any attention to mental health and body love. That is until celebrities started singing about it. Mary Lambert and Selena Gomez and Colbie Caillat and John Legend and Nicki Minaj all started singing about being beautiful and embracing your beauty and curves and all your imperfections. Only then did the world start paying more attention to self-love and our distorted perceptions of beauty.

Meghan sung a song about body positivity which has gotten super popular and she’s got many people loving her right now. She’s a media figure. A public role model for everyone everywhere. Her songs are playing everywhere. On the radio, in the supermarkets, even in my gym. Everyone’s just listening to what she has to say. And sing too. Her words are in the spotlight and because of her role as a celebrity, this means whatever she discusses and sings will be scrutinized and/or taken as inspiration. My own momma herself called me stupid for getting an eating disorder and commented that only stupid girls get eating disorders because they only care about themselves, but since she’s not a global media icon, her words went unnoticed except by me. So unlike my mum, Meghan has to be extra careful and sensitive about the things she says and sings about because everyone is listening.

So what now?

Well I don’t really know what now, but based on the comments I’ve read on message boards, blogs, Twitter & Instagram, you have people who continue seeing her as a role model, people who request that she retract her statement & issue an apology for her comments, & also people who just don’t care about her. My opinion? Like I said, she probably shouldn’t have said anything about eating disorders to begin with since she hasn’t a clue about the intricacies of eating disorders. But let’s also throw in some sympthaty and think about the fact that she was affected enough to actually not want to not eat to lose weight. She’s similar to many of us who are struggling with body image issues and eating disorders. She just hasn’t a clue how to go about discussing it. So I suppose an apology or a clarification would be sufficient to appease our angry souls. We want her to admit she’s been careless with her remarks and promise to never cast eating disorders in such a casual “oh let’s give this a shot its like a challenge” manner. You know, when I’m told, or hear of comments about body image and/or eating disorders that are just a little misguided, I post something like this:

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Yeah so follow me on Instagram too ? 😀 😀 

 So, maybe Meghan could do just that. Selena Gomez does it. When the media glamorizes eating disorders or focuses on unrealistic beauty standards, she tweets informational things or posts motivational messages on Instagram. Awareness & education are key, ladies and gentlemen. In the mealtimes, hating on Meghan won’t really do anything really. Sure, you can boycott her music but let’s give just a teeny bit more time and see how her approach to issues body image and eating disorders to develop. People make offhand comments without meaning to so all right I do think it’d be appropriate that she issue an apology; a clarification of sorts to explain herself because after all, she still is somewhat glamorizing eating disorders and making them out to be a fad diet with no negative repercussions.

If she continues making the same crazy remarks of anorexia as some diet fad, then by all means, I’ll join you in sending her cockroaches in her mailbox and glitter bombing her. You and I are aware of it, but we can’t be sure of other women, men & young adolescents and children who are unfamiliar with eating disorders & eventually end up thinking that eating disorders as “something that you can try”, only to find out that “trying” to eat ice and vegetables was just what it took to set the path for more disordered eating in the future. Meghan, honey, if you ever read this, and the other blog posts out there discussing this, you might want to do something about it.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know.

since when must I be skinny to be able to dance?

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Do me a favor and think of a female dancer. What kind of body does she have? Tall? Short? Curvy? Skinny? Slim? Muscular? If the image you conjured is one who is lean and toned with flat abs, then you as well as hundreds of thousands of people around the world, most likely possess the stereotype that dancers are slim people.

Most of you readers may probably know this, but just so you know, I’m a dancer. I started dancing since I was 17 during which I first did belly dancing for a year before joining my school’s dance team and did hip hop, street jazz and reggae (and probably about 5 lessons of contemporary dance). I did street dance til I was 21 before giving it up because of my ED and when I went to New York on my student exchange program at age 22, I picked up latin dance in which I did salsa and bachata and have been doing so ever since coming back to Singapore in January 2014. I’m doing much more salsa and bachata now though I attend street jazz open classes every now and then, have tried my hand in a lyrical jazz class and am considering going back to belly dancing lessons as well because I miss it.

A strong reason behind why I stopped dancing when I was 21 was because I hated the way my body looked when I danced. I’m not a slim dancer. I’m muscular/curvy. A lot of dancers I’ve come across, be it in person or on screen, are pretty slim, especially contemporary dancers, and I was jealous of them. They had slim or skinny bodies which gave no doubt gave them an advantage because dance requires you to be fast, strong and light on your feet. Some routines – though this may usually apply for stage performances –  require the men to lift the girls and being petite is an added advantage because it makes for easier lifting. Ballet dancers are perhaps the most extreme. The ones we always see are usually pretty thin and you always hear stories of bigger and/or muscular ballet dancers being asked by their dance directors to lose weight and/or being rejected because they weren’t willowy enough. I know that curvy/muscular female ballet dancers exist, but rarely do we hear about them do we? Rarely do we all see curvy pole dancers too, do we? The perception of a pole dancer is a woman who is more muscular than skinny but lean and toned at the same time. Not one who is curvier.

Street jazz was my preferred style. Think of the dance routines you see on music videos by Britney and Christina. Its sharp, its fast, its sexy and its spicy. However, I felt my body was too big for that type of dancing. In the mirror I looked big and lumbery. I felt like I took up too much space and my movements  whereas the other dancers’ movements looked swift & razor sharp in comparison. Asian girls do tend to be smaller than their Western counterparts and since many of the female dancers I come across are Asian & I just so happend to be an exception, this just made me want to lose weight even more. Some girls wore clothing that showed off their lithe figure. Cropped tops. Tight pants. The works. On MTV and dance shows like So You Think You Can Dance, I never once saw a curvy female dancer like myself, unless you count the ones with the big butts dancing next to Nicki Minaj. But all in all, most dancers I came across are pretty slim and fit. I would have thought that the many hours of street dancing I put in would have made me lose weight but apparently it didnt because my restricting and binging cycle wasn’t quite resolved. Nevertheless, one thing was for sure to me: many dancers (at least for the types of dance that I do) have slim figures and this made me feel incredibly conscious of my own body to the point that I concluded that my body just wasn’t good enough to be a dancer’s body. I decided that my body was wrong. Sometimes for performances, dancers are required to wear costumes that showed their bellies and I always dreaded that because I knew I’d be the only girl without the flat tummy. I didn’t think a wobbly belly would look very good on stage compared to my counterparts. Most dancers I saw had flat abs, toned arms and slim calves. I had none of those.

Having said that, its not true that all dancers are thin. I’ve come across dancers who are curvy.  They’re curvier girls like me but I didn’t see many. I’ve seen YouTube videos of other people dancing and they’re not skinny themselves. They have bodies of all shapes and sizes. Curvy, muscular, big buts or ample chests etc. My belly dance teacher was plus size but she belly danced like a queen. In salsa and bachata, I meet some female dancers who are bigger than me but they’re still dancing. But sometimes I experience this strange pressure to lose weight so that I will have the stereotyped “dancer’s” body because it makes for easier dancing, especially in salsa where the men have to at times, guide and/or dip the woman”. I’ve heard some male dancers tell me that they find it easier to lead a woman who “isn’t so big” because if she is, she’s slightly harder to lead.

It made me think about my own body and how men find it easy to lead on the floor. Were the men using a lot of force to try and guide me to a certain position as compared to girls who were lighter than me? Logically speaking, girls skinner than me will be easier to guide because they’re lighter. When I was performing bachata in New York, I was afraid of letting my partner lift me because I was afraid that I might be too heavy. I even thought I could hear him grunting with effort to carry me. It felt…not good.

I love dancing, but sometimes, I feel the pressure to diet and lose weight so that:

  • I’d look more lithe, graceful and supple on the dance floor
  • Men will find it easier to lead me and lift me, especially for salsa
  • I wouldn’t feel like a giant lumbering on the dance floor by taking up more space.

Shows like Black Swan, the Step Up franchise, So You Think You Can Dance and even music videos reinforce the desirability and idealization of having a thin body to dance in and such can be a draining and damaging and overwhelming notion because dancers are required to look at themselves in the mirror, more so for women who tend to be more critical of their bodies. Body diversity is (very) slowly making its way into mainstream media but I think body diversity still isn’t a celebrated aspect in the dance scene. I don’t see why I’m being judged on my ability to dance because of my body shape. Dance should be more about technique, about spirit of the dancer, his or her stage presence and connection to the audience, the story of the choreography and the passion than about my body shape. Just because I’m bigger than the “stereotypical” dancer doesn’t mean she’s better than me. Hell I’m curvier than many female Asian dancers here in Singapore but I look sexier dancing bachata than some of dancers because they can’t do body waves and hip gyrations like I can thanks to my belly dancing and reggae background. Men have complimented me on my bachata and have told me I look good okay so don’t give me that “oh you can’t dance because you’re not skinny enough” crap.

Yeah maybe I don’t have a skinny waist, small arms and skinny calves but that doesn’t make me less of a dancer. Part of me still does wish I can have a slimmer body (hey I’m human after all) but the thing is, I’ve spent a lifetime hating my body and I really don’t need anybody giving me another reason to hate dance, or my body even more for that matter by making me feel like I can’t engage in my love for dance because of my body shape. I work out and continue engaging in my intuitive eating (for ED recovery) for more my health and sanity than to achieve a skinny body and to me that’s good enough. I dance because I feel free when I do so. I enter a different world. I feel like I’m telling a story, like I’m expressing myself. I want people to look at me and say “wow that girl can dance her technique/style is amazing and she has such amazing stage presence” instead of saying “wow that girl can dance even though she’s not skinny”. I know that I can never achieve a certain body shape because of genetics but honestly its just so daft of you to expect me to lose weight to be skinny as minnie just so I can dance.

Here are some videos for you to watch about big girls challenging dance stereotypes.

“Obviously i’m a bigger lady and i’m just hoping that people see that i’m good at what i do”

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And yes, that’s me with my choreographer, Martin Gonzalez of Alma latina Mexico 😀 I performed a bachata routine on stage last month for the Singapore International Latin Festival andwearing a body suit was slightly nerve wrecking because I was self-conscious about my body shape and calves from the front view but stage fright made me forget those body woes.

International Women’s Day: reflecting on what I’ve learned about empowerment

It just dawned on me that we’ve already entered March. Its baffling how time flies by so quick because honest to God, it felt as though it was only a few weeks ago that it just turned 2015. Its making me reflect on how time waits for no man and reminding me to appreciate the little things in life. I’ve been stopping more to marvel at sunsets and array of clouds spread across the sky, staring at fallen flowers and thinking how pretty it looks even on the harsh hot cement ground, petting stray cats near my apartment and bringing them cat food.

I’m dedicating this post to mark International Women’s Day (8th March 2015), a day for celebrating the milestones and achievements of women, calling for gender equality, raising awareness about the subjugation of women’s rights in countries with regards to issues such as reproductive rights, fair wages and domestic violence, as well as women’s empowerment.

There are quite a number of women’s issues that I’ve felt very strongly about on based on the readings I did, such as reproductive rights, the LBGT community, domestic violence and child marriage. For today’s post, however I wanted to talk about what I’ve learned about being empowered.

I’ve been doing some reflecting and I realized that I’ve actually grown quite a fair bit as a person.  I can say without a doubt that I’m not the same person as I was before. I’m a little more confident, a little more wiser and my outlook on life has changed. I used to hold such overly idealistic perceptions about life, about love and about relationships and I think my ongoing recovery from, and battles with my eating disorder, from heartbreak, from meeting people of all walks of life last year and the type of travels I did have sharpened my expectations and given me a real dossier on the realities of life. To me empowerment means strength, knowledge and bravery.

The trials and tribulations of 2014 and I guess even 2013 has taught me what it means to be empowered in various contexts:

Relationships

I used to want to maintain good relationships with others all the time and making them happy at the expense of my own personal happiness. Now I’m slowly, and still learning to let go of that. I’m learning to speak my mind more. I’m less inclined to wanting to please people, especially if they’re not close friends, or get them to like me because my wellbeing isn’t in their hands. I’m not afraid to burn bridges if it means distancing myself negativity, especially people who don’t know me as well as my good friends do. People will walk away from you, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do the same if they aren’t making you happy or making you doubt yourself. If you’re going to cry about every single person that leaves you every time, you’re only displaying a weakness within yourself.

Empowerment means to know when to distance yourself from negative people instead of wanting to please people all the time, from people who don’t make you happy, from people whom you should have let go of a long time ago, of people taking advantage of you. Empowerment means to know which relationships are the ones you should keep and which are ones you shouldn’t.

Love and Romantic Relationships

I used to have such idealistic perceptions about love. I held this fantasy that there’d be a Prince Charming somewhere along the way who’d sweep me off my feet; that heartbreak was something that wouldn’t happen to me. But after the months it took me to get back up on my feet again after being broken, hearing personal stories from female friends, and meeting different types of men along the way, I’ve learned how absolutely naive I was, and how I’m still very much unaware about romantic relationships and about human desires. I used to like romantic movies and swoon over them. Man meets woman. They fall in love. He does something corny to get close to her: learn a new dance, lose weight, take part in competitions, learn a new sport etc. Now I can’t stand them because I know that’s not how it will always be in real life. I’ve friends who’ve fallen for the charms of sweet-talking suave men who end up having sex with them and then dropping them like a hot potato after. Not just here in Singapore, but some European friends too. I’ve had some men – not all but some – who hit on me in bars being a little too sexually aggressive for my liking and when I reject them, they immediately turn their heads away and target another women using the same tactics. 

Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there’s a Prince Charming in the future for many women, and that not all men are conniving foxes who want to only have sex with you and run off. But I personally don’t want to hold myself to that by holding the mindset that all men are romantic beings who wouldn’t want to hurt me and put myself in a vulnerable position, and know I might meet some bad ones along the way who life doesn’t always give you what you want straight away. Its probably a hard thing to do because I’m a sensitive person and human behavior, especially when intoxicated by love, can be hard to predict, but here’s to doing the best we can. We might go about making mistakes a few times, but after that, we will know, and we will learn, and we will do our best to not repeat that my changing our behaviors because nothing ever goes away until it finally teaches us what we need to know.

Empowerment means to protect yourself from vulnerable situations by being smart and being aware. Empowerment means to know how much you’re worth and to think twice about accepting a man who cannot keep up with you. Empowerment means to question a relationship that isn’t giving you what you want, making you sacrifice more than your partner does and eventually decide to walk away from a relationship if over time, isn’t making you happy, isn’t making you grow or if its not giving you what you truly deserve.

Body Image

In the years I’ve struggled loads to be healthy and love my body without hurting it through starving, bingeing, self-harm and compulsive exercise. I always strived to be as thin as possible because I hated being bigger than my friends. I didn’t like my tummy rolls, my chubby face, my calves. Pretty much everything about my body because it just wasn’t skinny. I only started putting in a lot more effort into taking care of myself last year by altering my eating habits (i.e. no restricting and no bingeing), running more and going on a dance rampage. Through improving my health and learning to change my thought patterns I’ve slowly come to understand the true meaning of loving your body and accepting it. I reflected about this my post on discovering what body image empowerment means through a striptease workshop I did a few weeks back.

Empowerment means to accept that bodies come in various shapes and sizes, because everyone is different. It means to reject the ideals that society and the mass media has enforced upon us for decades and to not compare yourself to other people. Empowerment means taking care of your health and being the best you that you can be without the need to gain validation and approval from others about your look.

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This doesn’t mean that I’m now a guru who now won’t make the mistakes that other people make and will go on on to lead the best and happier of lives. At the end of the day, I’m still human and if there’s one thing I learned from my education in psychology, human behavior can be hard to predict at times. I’m only 24 and I’ve so much more about life and love I need to know but with this increased level of knowledge and awareness gained from self-discovery and interaction with many different others (especially people older than I am), I hope that I will continue growing in strength and knowledge and passion so that when I’m 90 and looking back at my life, I will do so with pride and awe instead of disappointment and regret.

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY PEOPLE. I’m grateful for the women who helped fight for the rights of women around the world and for women who have pushed me to discovering myself and becoming the best version of me 🙂

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********** can i interest with you with some bloopers*******

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I had already removed my contacts and disposed of the pair before realizing I wanted my sis to take these pictures for me so I ended up holding my glasses like these half the time just so I wouldn’t need to keep taking them off and putting them on again!

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MEEP

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HAIRFLIPS ARE NOT AS EASY OR NATURAL AS THEY LOOK. LOOK AT THIS UNNATURAL ONE

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Glad to see my mum enjoyed having fun with photos as well 😀

what a striptease/lap dance workshop taught me about body image empowerment

Wow its been a while since I posted anything in here. I’ve been swamped ever since my last post, owing to the fact that I’ve been working on my final year thesis and attending more dance lessons in the evening. Working on a 10,000 literature review can be a nightmare after a while. My 2 project mates and I have to skim over hundreds of articles and revise our report multiple times and after a while, I just lose the motivation to write a blog post. This really makes me wish I had a Quick Quotes Quill like Rita Skeeter does in the Harry Potter series where it automatically writes down everything you say. Or in this case, a Quick Quotes….something so whatever I want to post magically types out here by itself. To write is to bleed. Anyway this is going to be a long post so if you actually manage to read on to the end, congratulations! I went for a striptease/lapdance workshop sometime last week. Yes you heard me right. A striptease / lap dance workshop at an exotic dance studio held by a pole dancer called Chili (though now that I think about it, Chili could have been her stage name) from Australia who’s been pole dancing for a couple years now and she runs around the country performing and giving classes and stuff. A friend signed us up for this striptease workshop and my experiences with the workshop made me reflect about body acceptance and gain some perspective into what empowerment means in the context of body image. By the way, if you’re reading this post to look for pictures, you come to the wrong place so if you’re looking for nudes because you saw the word ‘striptease”, sorry not sorry. Anyway, the workshop involves performing an (imaginary) lap dance and stripping our clothing after. Chilli had sent an email a few days before the workshop telling us to bring extra bikinis or underwear because we’d be stripping and honest to God I thought it was because we’d be pouring chocolate syrup or body glitter on ourselves on our underwear after stripping our clothes off and so the extra bikinis were for us to change into after the class. Sadly I was wrong. So there I was, happily bounding up the steps leading to the studio brimming with anticipation because seriously what a GREAT way to spend 2 hours on a Sunday learning how to do a lap dance and strip your clothes off in a sexy way. LIFE GOALS PEOPLE. LIFE GOALS. LEARN HOW TO STRIP YOUR CLOTHES OFF IN A SEXY WAY AND LEARN A LAP DANCE. They’ll come in handy one day. So N and I stepped into the dance studio, and we were immediately greeted by the sight of a dozen half-naked women tottering around the studio in the highest heels I have ever laid my eyes on and talking and laughing in their skimpy  underwear. And they had sexy underwear. I’m talking lace and buckles and cross straps and Victoria Secrets. I pretty much froze on the spot, with my eyes as wide as dinner planes and just trying to process the scene in front of me because can you imagine, expecting yourself to enter a studio with people dressed in regular clothes but instead you’re treated to the sight of near-naked women prancing about without a care in the world? All I could do was just gingerly make my way to the side of the studio to deposit my bag and casually asked one of the other girls why she was already in her underwear and she just said “Oh Chili says we’ll be starting the class in our bra tops and underwear and stripping it off. So just wear 2 tops and bottoms”. Wait. What? Nobody told me that we’d be dancing and stripping in our bikinis to start with. Where was it stated in that email? I have read that thing at least 3 times and it mentioned nothing about dancing 90% naked to start with. I mean okay I came prepared such that I brought extra tops and bottoms but i was working under the assumption that we’d be lap dancing in normal clothes before stripping to our bikinis at the end. With my body image woes, I  most certainly was not prepared to be dancing near-naked for the entire 2 hours. I had bargained for dancing in clothes for about 1.5 hours and being near-naked for the remaining 30 minutes. I was in such a dither and was stamping on the spot like a frustrated bull and torn with indecision & seriously contemplated wearing a black shirt over my bikini top. My tummy is my problem area; I don’t have flat abs. I have folds. My tummy isn’t toned no matter how many sit ups I do and I don’t have an hourglass figure. Its one of my biggest insecurities and I most certainly did not want to see myself in the mirror dancing with my belly jiggling like Jello. Nuh-uh. I mean I want to feel sexy when I lap dance and strip, not be grimacing at myself. And so right there and then, Chili came parading into the studio with her sparkly gold string bikini and sky-high heels which she calls “stripper heels”. She gets to the front of the class, claps her hand to get our attention and goes “Okay girls, gotten naked yet? Time to get sexy and lap dance for our men tonight okay?” And everyone just laughed and immediately started getting in lines to do warm ups. It was in a split second that I decided to just screw it all and so I just whipped off my black shirt and quickly sprinted to a free spot on the floor and trying very hard to stare at my own reflection. We did some stretching, some body isolations, and shoulder rolls and some shaking of the booty. So while doing the warmups I got to get a better look at the rest of the girls in the class and honestly, I expected most of them to have the typical, or rather common Asian/Chinese body: small, petite, skinny, small hips and a flat butt, and I expected women to turn up looking like models with perfect hair and skin but  I was wrong. I was seeing a dozen different body shapes and sizes. Sure some were skinny with flat tummies but there were also women who didn’t have that body shape and honestly it was the first time that I was in an environment that really and completely made me aware of body diversity. Some women were skinny but they had tummy rolls, some were skinny but had big thighs, two or three were plus size. And they were all in their underwear. After warmups Chili immediately went to break the stripping/lapdance routine for us. Here’s the thing: I have never seen myself dance in my underwear before. And having to stare at myself in the mirror and looking at my physical insecurities up close scared the bejesus out of me. I know that my tummy is my biggest physical insecurity but I’ve never actually been in a situation where I had to actually reveal this insecurity to virtual strangers and really confront this insecurity. I can only liken this to seeing the Pope. You know the Pope exists but when you see him for the first time, you just can’t quite accept the fact that he actually exists. Like “oh my god you’re real!” I have never felt so much more conscious in my life ever and I’ll admit, throughout the entire 2 hour class, there were some a few quite a number of times where I would suck in my tummy because just looking at how my tummy wasn’t flat irked me a lot. I was uncomfortable in certain positions because I couldn’t hide my tummy right. Lying flat on my back was fine because come on, your tummy looks flat that way. I kept trying to hike my bikini bottom higher so it’d cover more of my tummy even though it was meant to rest at my hips, or I’d sit up straighter and not slouch so my tummy rolls don’t show, or I’d just cross my arms and slouch ao my arms cover my midsection. Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, the routine was so much fun! We used a chair as a prop and I was doing body rolls and arching my back like a swan and shaking my ass and thrusting my butt out and biting my lips and flicking my hair and stripping my 1st bikini off and throwing it onto the floor. When Chili demonstrated this move, she actually brazenly removed her bikini top and revealed her naked breasts for us all. Now I’m a woman and I’ve seen nude women before, be it in a sauna room or in a movie but never in real life, and somehow to actually see your dance instructor take off her bra top in front of you was…interesting. Chili is my first topless woman. And she wasn’t even bothered by it. She just paraded up to the chair, reached behind her back and tugged at the strings and pulled the bra top away from her body in the most nonchalant fashion ever as though removing her bra top in front of strangers is the most natural thing that she does everyday. Actually now that I think about it, given her profession, maybe removing her bra top in front of strangers is a natural thing for her. But for someone like me – it sure wasn’t. So there I was staring at Chili and waiting to see the next move and expecting her to do something sexy with the chair and she suddenly rips her bra top off and I’m staring at her boobs. I somehow was able to keep a straight, impassive and nonchalant face as though women ripping off their bra tops to show their breasts to me happens everyday as well so that having Chili do so didn’t come as a surprise. I don’t remember thinking anything dramatic when Chili removed her bra top but a small part of me was all “What is the social convention for this? What do I do now that she’s removed her bra? Where am I supposed to put my eyes? On her boobs? It seems like I should because they’re now obviously the focal point but then again she’s teaching us and trying to tell us something so I should be looking at her in the face but then her breasts are showing and since rarely do I see another woman’s naked breasts in person all the time, such becomes an exotic spectacle which clearly warrants an ogle.” I couldn’t tell whether the other girls in the studio were ogling at her breasts in fascination or just neutrally eyeing them because their passive facial expressions didn’t indicate any hint shock or bewilderment. But anyway, back to the story, I was also pretending to pour body oil on myself while perched on a chair and laughing while gyrating on a nonexistent man on the floor. But the fact that I was so conscious of my tummy might have dampened the experience a little. I couldn’t execute the routine properly at the end of the lesson because half the time I was conscious about how my tummy looked and was trying to make it look like I have a flat tummy but to be honest, when you’re without proper clothing you really can’t hide much of your physical flaws. I was placed in an environment where I was stripped of my clothes, my protection that covered my physical insecurities, and where I had to bare my vulnerabilities to virtual strangers and my insecurities were most definitely showing by the way I was trying to unsuccessfully flatten my tummy. Then here’s the other thing: the other girls in the studio didn’t really care. They were just following Chili and rolling on the floor and gyrating to the music and looked so incredibly comfortable being near-naked. Unlike me, they weren’t awkwardly trying to adjust their bikinis or slouching to hide their tummies. They were having such a good time dancing and feeling sexy. The girls with the big thighs didn’t come in leggings. The girls with tummy rolls didn’t come in shirts. The plus size girls didn’t come fully dressed. Everyone was semi-naked and didn’t give a damn that that they didn’t have a model’s body and that their thighs and their tummy rolls were jiggling while they were dancing. It was then that I realized something: If you accept your physical insecurities, no one can use them against you. Most of the time when I think of women dancing in skimpy clothing I think of professional dancers: dancers who train hard all day everyday and end up with fit and athletic bodies and end up dancing for celebrities. The women in this studio however, aren’t professional dancers. They don’t train 7 hours a day dancing. They are but recreational dancers with a passion for exotic dance. To be able to dance semi-naked and performing seductive dance moves means that you have to be really confident and comfortable in your own skin and with your body to be able to do that. You can’t be trying to hide your tummy while gyrating on the floor; nor covering your thighs while you twerk (yes we twerked). You have to accept your body for what it is and not care about the fact that you don’t possess a thin and tone body. You have to accept that yes, I have tummy roll or have big thighs and no I don’t give a damn that they jiggle now because I’m having the most amazing time of my life. When you accept that, you are empowered and you feel confident. Take Chili for example, she’s has performed many lap dances for performance in her native Australia and at the beginning of the class before teaching the routine, she just grabbed her tummy rolls and shook and jiggled them around for us to see and bluntly said “Look at this, I’ve got a tummy and no matter how many sit-ups I do, these babies are still here and they’re never going to go away, but I’m going to teach you how to dance in a strong and sexy way because when you’re strong and sexy, you won’t even be thinking about your body flaws” The fact that she actually acknowledged her physical imperfections with such openness and confidence was very motivating indeed because here is a woman, fully aware that she doesn’t posses the most thin and toned of bodies, yet she continues to go on stage in skimpy lingerie and performing sexy dance routines without a care in the world that her tummy jiggles. She accepts that she doesn’t have a flat tummy and because of that, she is confident. She may not be the most confident but she’s confident enough to be able to dance near-naked and strip off her bra top because she’s confident the body that she has. Even the plus size girls for that matter. There has been so much flak online; plus size women being ridiculed for dressing in skimpy clothing or posting pictures of themselves in bathing suits and getting bullied for not having a thin body, but these girls in the studio? They didn’t care that they were the biggest girls in the studio. You could argue that the the studio is a safe environment for them to be able to dance half-naked, but that’s not the point. I’m not plus size but I certainly spent 10 minutes trying to decide whether to leave my shirt on and spent a fair amount of time awkwardly trying to hid my flat tummy which was such a waste of time because other than a sarong (which we used only at the end), there was nothing to hide myself with. But these plus sized girls were rocking in. Hell, they actually danced better than I did! They were so confident about themselves and it showed. Me? I was an awkward mess half the time. And I think that’s what body image empowerment is about – accepting that you don’t have the perfect body and being comfortable and confident with the body that you have, because when you accept your imperfections, you begin to love yourself and feel less of a need to get approval from others. When you are insecure about yourself, people will eventually spot your weaknesses and can use them against you to being you down and crush your esteem. When you accept your imperfections, you don’t see a reason to hide your body or be embarrassed by it. You retain the power and control you have about how you feel about your body. And that’s what I gathered in this workshop. When you’re confident and empowered about your body, you don’t see a reason to hide it. You are in control of how you feel and you alone determine how you feel about your body. When you’re confident, it shows in your actions. This striptease/workshop allowed me to explore my body in a way I’ve never done before. For the past few years I’ve looked at my body and only saw something imperfect – small butt, lack of nice abs etc. But learning how to pose sexy, walk sexy, sit sexy, and even undress sexy made me realize how feminine I can be even though I don’t have a supermodel’s body.  When I wasn’t awkwardly trying to conceal my belly, I felt really really really good about myself. I was flirting with the mirror, throwing coy looks at myself, rolling my hips and sliding on the floor, teasing an imaginary man in front of me and touching my body and feeling very womanly indeed. Learning this simple lap dance and striptease routine made me realize how much something is innocent as dancing and stripping can make me feel good about myself because during that moment, I was bringing out the feminine and sexy person in me – someone whom I’ve never seen before and you what? I like her.

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Some snapshots from class. And no as much as I felt incredibly womanly, I won’t be posting a ton of pictures here because of privacy reasons! See how I blemished the pictures? I don’t think it’d be ver polite to show the other women here in this blog without their permission so I had them erased.

Once again excuse me for the long post. If you’ve read this til the end, you deserve a nice medal! Really.

Plus, if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes in this post – SORRY. Really if there’ one thing I cant stand, its grammatical errors. I was so zonked out last night while typing this and literally had no energy to go through the post 5 times for proofreading before publishing. I’m starting to lose my perfectionist streak. Heh.