I used to purposely dress in baggy clothes and wouldn’t wear makeup or do my hair so that other girls would like me. I remember the specific moment when that became a practice for me. It was in the locker room at a swim meet in middle school. A few of my “friends” were all gathered around and talking about the things they didn’t like about their bodies. I remember so clearly when one of them looked over at me and said in a condescending tone of voice “What about you Maria? I bet you don’t have anything you would change about yourself.” In my young and vulnerable state and strong desire to fit in, I quickly made up a few things. That was only the beginning.
I was also a really good swimmer and athlete in general as well as excelled in academics. I was pretty good at everything I did because it was important to me and I put a lot of effort into everything. However, I was not in an environment where I felt comfortable or even safe being that person anymore. I continued to learn that in order to fit in, I must not be so good at things and definitely not look good. I must do everything I could to not stand out. I was unaware of the psychological damage that was taking place with that mentality but I just went into survival mode.
When I found belly dancing. All this would begin to change. Suddenly I was surrounded by women who showered me with compliments and acceptance. As I continued going to classes, I began to feel major changes in my body and spirit. I was becoming addicted. The circular undulating movements were helping me bring to the surface these old memories and patterns and I literally shimmied and belly rolled all the layers of shame and disapproval off again and again, until all that was left was who I am at my core. I began transforming back into the little girl that had no reason to think there was anything wrong with her. I learned to enjoy wearing clothes that were flattering and even got to play dress up again (one of my favorites when I was little)! My teachers and fellow dancers became my tribe and my sisters. They are rooting for me and I for them. We have an irreplaceable bond and I continue to grow and shed more layers of learned behavior every time I dance. The San Diego Tribal Belly Dance community is loving, supportive, and accepting of everyBODY! We celebrate differences and lift each other up. We laugh a lot and don’t take things too seriously.
Come play with us!
I teach weekly classes:
Thursdays 6:30-7:30pm (cardio flow drills) and 7:30-8:30pm (technique)
at Aerial Revolution 5370 Napa St. 92110
Or come dance under the stars with me at an outdoor workshop:
Friday May 13 at Elka Yoga & Wellness Center‘s beautiful deck
I also highly recommend Sabrina Fox’s amazing beginner class to LIVE DRUMMERS: