These ads appeared in my Sunday newspaper.
Right next to each other.
I don’t know how the “lipo” center felt about being right next to the dance studio ad — maybe the person who determined the ad placement thought that it was a similar audience interested in both of these services.
But the contrast. Wow.
I’m thinking “no general anesthesia, immediate results, short recovery time” all also apply to the “Have Fun. Be Active.” motto of Debbie’s Dance Etc. “Have Fun. Be Active.” really is such a HAES statement. No “consult with Board Certified Surgeon” necessary.
The Debbie’s Dance ad worked. I had heard of the studio, and there are a surprisingly large number of dance studio in my relatively small tri-city area. In fact, the women I heard of the studio from are gorgeously not slender.* I’ve been wondering where I would like SuperHeroPrincess to take classes for dance (if that’s even something she would like — like me, free expression seems to be more her thing. But it’s nice to have a foundation). And Debbie’s Dance — your ad worked. You had me at “Have Fun.”
Sometimes, I feel like I’m just on top of this wave that is sweeping through most people’s consciousness about weight and fatness and the ridiculousness of the dominant paradigm, not only about weight but about health and what we can and can’t control.
Which reminds me of this piece of brilliance from Laura McKibbin, LICSW, creator (with input from with the amazing Jon Robison, PhD, MS): The Food for Thought Pyramid**. This satirical work highlights the overemphasis on “healthy eating and exercise as the primary determinants of good health” when in reality, genetics, luck and socioeconomic factors play a much larger role. Other determinants of health, such as relationships, social supports, a sense of meaning in life, and our ability to bounce back from hard circumstances play a huge role, in comparison to diet and exercise. And weight loss advice that tells us to ditch family and friends with “bad eating habits” or prioritize eating healthy or exercising over social interactions undermine and erode those things that have a much deeper impact on health. Sure, it’s nice to go walking and talking with friends. And the dance practice I do satisfies my needs for physical activity, but more importantly, expression, creativity, belonging, and self-exploration. But the “friends” part is the more important part, for me and for most (but not all) people.
Speaking of dance, and juxtapositions, I was at my practice on Tuesday, and our regular instructor/leader/guide/DJ (who I love) was expectedly out, and his sub was someone I also love but who I hadn’t had as an instructor/leader/guide/DJ before. And she did something amazing. She had us explore the concept of our “shadow side” and what that looks like, moves like, feels like. For some reason, this particular evening, my defenses dropped and I really allowed myself to explore that shadow side.
Interestingly, I found myself thinking of my shadow as bigger, fatter, heavier, hungrier, weaker, grouchy-er. It was weak where I feel the need to be strong these days, full where I feel the need to be empty these days, nice where I feel the need to be tough these days. It was just great to have a space to explore and expose all that I haven’t been able to allow myself to be. It felt so freeing to be able to feel bigger — to be inhabiting more rather than less space. There was something deeply integrating about that. Like it’s okay to actually be a bit smaller because I can visit feeling bigger anytime I like. I can carry all of that internally — accessing it when I need to — not having to feel guilty about my size, larger or smaller, as some sort of rejection of what I’ve been in the past. I have this worry that it will come across to those reading as a sort of “psychic fat suit” — and I didn’t experience it that way — having actually been quite a bit bigger (and smaller) as an adult than I am right now, this felt like an embrace more than a parody.
Because of a conversation I had been having right before, I went into dance practice with a thought about how loving myself is really important role modeling for SuperHeroPrincess. And exploring the idea of feeling loved, valued, appreciated from within, rather than from outside. And when this instrumental blues song came on (this was before the “shadow work”) I thought of slow dancing with myself as a partner, the way I always wanted to be danced with. I heard me saying to myself all kinds of good things — what a sensual dancer I am, how great it feels to dance with me, how adorable I am, how nice it feels to lean up against me, what beautiful eyes I have, how amazing I am overall — that’s what I remember. But it didn’t feel hokey, or silly, it felt authentic and true. And not like I was imagining someone else saying these things to me the way I did when I was younger, before I had the experience of someone actually saying those sorts of things, whether as a come-on or not. When I juxtapose how it felt to hear those things coming from me, next to the kinds of things I more frequently hear from myself about how unacceptable I must be to others, what I notice is the locus. The center. And with me at the center — how I feel about myself, to myself, the idea of unacceptability drops away. Or, what I find unacceptable shifts, and it’s not acceptable to carry an outdated, illogical, inaccurate vision of myself as some sort of protection.
Now, I know that old perception doesn’t just drop away. But the veneer has slipped just enough to allow a more accurate perception, at least some of the time. I think continuing to live with/in what I can see beneath the veneer and allow it to come to the forefront, that’s the trick.
Thanks for reading about this journey. It’s nice to feel it’s not happening in a vacuum.
Wishing you slipped veneers and joyously enlightening juxtapositions,
* I am still not comfortable calling women who haven’t self-identified as fat, “fat.”
** I’m ordering one of the pyramid posters soon, I swear. To put up in my cube at work (as opposed to my cube at home?).
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