luna_virgo: XVIII The Moon, Victoria Regina Tarot (Default)
[personal profile] luna_virgo
When I was in high school I took four years of dance class instead of PE. It was an alternative to the competitive, macho team sports that I was never good at. In my dance class there were a couple of girls who were real ballet dancers, taking lessons since childhood, unlike the rest of us clumsy amateurs. They could do splits, stand on their toes, and keep their balance far better than everyone else. I was incredibly jealous.

I am 5’1“. I reached this height in fifth grade. From that point on, I watched my friends continue to grow up as I only grew out. Destined as I was to remain short and thick, these graceful swans in my dance classes were just cruel examples to me of what I could never be. At the time, I didn’t realize that they probably had eating disorders. I just thought, why can’t I have a flat stomach like that, elegantly jutting hipbones, long thin limbs, blistered feet? Yes, I even envied them their gnarly dancer feet. Teenage me was dumb.

But dance class was a way of connecting with my body that I had never felt before. I was a sickly child, never encouraged to be physically active. Dancing (and the other physical activity I discovered in high school, sex) was a way to finally fully inhabit and enjoy my body, and it was accompanied by music, which along with reading was my constant companion and escape since early childhood.

So watching Black Swan brought all this back. My dance teacher, Mrs. Lindsay, shouting “Plie’! Plie’! Arms up, chest out!”. The focus on bathrooms - it was in high school that my panic disorder began, fleeing to the safe bathroom stall, intense self-scrutiny in mirrors. The ideal of perfection that was so painful as a teenager. The close shots echoing a narrow self-conscious view of the world.

I feel somewhat accomplished that I can look back now and see my former self with more kindness than judgment. I don’t ever want to go back to that teenage insecurity. But I would like to start dancing again.
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