I’ve been taking ballet lessons, once per week, for three months now. And I love it. Like, crazy-want-to-marry-it-and-have-its-babies kind of love.
The thing is, I didn’t expect it to affect my body image so much. Even more strangely, it has impacted it in both directions.
The bad: typical ballet attire is skin-tight. Leotard, the aptly-named tights, and I get away with a wrap skirt to disguise my holster hips. So, while I’m wearing nothing but stretchy material pulled soundly around each bulge on my body, I’m in a room with walls that consist nearly completely of mirrors. And I’m expected to jump around in this environment.
This is a total buzz kill. At last week’s class I was leaning backwards on my elbows against the barre, and when I looked in the mirror, my stomach pudge in my black leotard looked more realistically like a spare tire than the one hidden in the trunk of my car. TRUE STORY.
Though, some of my anxiety was relieved after my teacher told me that the mirrors in her classroom are bowed outwards, making everyone appear ten pounds heavier. I breathed a sigh of relief after hearing that one, though my inner annoying voice chimed in with “The mirror didn’t create that spare tire!”
Most often, the mirrors don’t bother me. Honestly, I’m too busy trying to make my body move in ways it never has before. The after effect: I feel totally graceful nearly 90 percent of the time now. Walk to open the door of my apartment? No way, why not grand jete? Merely bend over to pick up an errant piece of paper? Pfft. Arabesque all the way. I point my toes when I walk, jump out of bed, step out of the shower, etc. I don’t turn around – I spin. I even stretch with my arms in the proper positions.
So I’ve come to the conclusion: ballet makes me feel pudgy, but graceful. And I can work on the pudgy part. 😉 I will never have the perfect ballet body. I’m not built to be a stick – I’m built to be a shaped more like a gnarly tree trunk. I don’t have a ballet body – I have a ballet booty, and I’m proud of it.