Friday, June 4, 2010

Beauty After Dancing


(This post is inspired by Heather's.)

As someone who has, for her entire life, suffered from various body image disorders, I have never been friends with the mirror.

While using the mirror at home to fix my hair, I would avoid eye contact with myself.

In a public bathroom, I was always careful not to look up from the sink for fear of catching a glimpse or for fear of looking like I was looking at myself.  You see, I assumed that other women would say, "Look at her, checking herself out..."  I don't know what I thought they were thinking about themselves then, since most women have no problem looking in the mirror.

Even now, Marcy and I have a small mirror in the bathroom, and I placed a cheap, long mirror for checking outfits...in the basement.  There is no mirror in the bedroom.  (There is one in the living room but it is one of those mirrors meant to make a room feel roomier and it is easy for me to avoid and not notice.)

Looking in the mirror has always unleashed a litany of imperfections in my mind (sometimes out loud):  this or that or all things are too fat; my ears stick out too far from my head; my eyes are too small; my eyes are not blue "enough"; my lips are too thin...you get the idea.

Admitting anything but imperfection was conceit.

Since I have returned to dance, something is changing.  It is not all Starlight and Fairy Dust; there are times when I flap my arms and say "oh, no...gotta go lift some weights."  These habits of self-loathing are the hardest to break, I think.

I can remember the first time it happened, though, that the mirror and I...got along.

I had just been dancing my ass off.  I was covered in sweat.  I was exhausted and exhilarated, and I walked into the bathroom, flipped the switch, and saw myself.

Really saw myself.

And I thought, for the first time in forever, "Well! You are quite beautiful!"

Now, though I am embarrassed to admit this (and yet should not be), I find myself seeking out a mirror after I have danced extra big and bold, because I relish the opportunity to look into my own eyes and see them sparkling with joy rather than self-judgment.


14 comments:

Ruby said...

This is beautiful!

Tess said...

I'm very pleased to read this.

Lisa said...

Oh! This is beautiful and powerful and soooo inspiring.

How wonderful that you are *finally* able to see the radiance within yourself that we have known and loved for quite some time!

{{Welcome home, beautiful soul.}}

StorytellERdoc said...

Great post, C! Although, and I'm coming from a guy's perspective, a mirror in the bedroom is not always a bad thing! LOL

Have a good weekend.
J

cocosparkle said...

Ahhhhh what a wonderful post! I long for that feeling...good for you!! xoxo

Heather Plett said...

Very cool! I think you're beautiful even when you HAVEN'T danced, so I can just imagine how much you radiate after dancing.

Megan Matthieson said...

smiling!!!!

Emma said...

Fantastic!

sarah said...

what an inspiring post! I have a hard time w/ the mirrored wall in the yoga studio I attend. I appreciate being able to see my posture within each pose, but I don't like having to look at myself. I'm working on it, but it's tough.

Giulietta said...

Hello Christine,

Any talk of mirrors immediately catches my eye. I had an essay published a few years ago that talked about mirrors.

Used to have a terrible time with mirrors, ironically in my 20's when I looked (from a societal standpoint) amazing! Sometimes I couldn't leave the house because the reflection didn't look right. Always had to keep checking, checking, checking in every mirror I passed to make sure I looked good enough once I did leave the house.

Mirror as tyrant.

As I got older and felt stronger inside, I needed the reflection's approval less and less and less. I like what I see now. The power from within shines through.

Much thanks for an awesome post!

Giulietta, Inspirational Rebel

Jan said...

This IS something to truly celebrate - a breaththrough moment. Truly, what could be more beautiful than a woman accepting her own beauty - both inner and outer. I am so very happy for you. :-) boundlessxoxoxo

toliveinspired said...

What a honest and beautiful post.. It's amazing the way we talk to ourselves where if someone else was saying the things to us that we say to ourselves or about ourselves we would not put up with it or be friends with them.. I found this post via Dirty Footprints blog and am happy I did!

svasti said...

Ah... this is a post I've looked at several times now, but have had trouble leaving a comment for. Really, it touched a big fat nerve with me. Which is a good thing really...

Body image issues. Yes. All my life, too. Although I do have a full length mirror in the bedroom (I don't have a basement), I tend not to look at it too closely. It's more for making sure my outfit looks okay than any scrutiny of myself.

After years and years of verbal abuse that included regular declarations of how unattractive I am, it is hard to see anything but my imperfections.

It's a struggle to be able to look in the mirror and tell myself I look "okay" or even (shock-horror!) a little bit pretty. I don't talk about this often because I don't want people thinking that I'm looking for reassurances that it's not true. This is just how my brain is wired and it's very hard to see anything else.

So the way this post ends - it challenges me. Really. I think I can feel like that every now and then, but it's yet to be a regular occurrence...

Vehllia said...

I love your honesty in this blog post. I recently started a blog on dancing and came across yours. Still learning a lot. I would really appreciate your comment on my site. Thank you for shining your light to the world. You're beautiful!