H has my movement sensibility. She has my height and strong-like-bull stature. I hope she adopts the celebration of my body I am enjoying now and not the criticisms and sense of defeat that have been present at other points in my life.
I have a hard time discerning how much of my feelings about my body are from being a dancer and how much are common for every woman. I realize probably every woman has challenges with body image and developing a healthy picture of how the ideal body should look and feel at least within a phase of their life. Dealing with middle schoolers on a daily basis, and asking them to look in the mirror often, I know this is true.
I am increasingly more conscious of what my body- the concept, the reference, the physical identity- means for my daughter. What will be the legacy of body in our family?
I have been having a fascinating conversation with a dear and brilliant friend much of this summer about the body and body image. We are making important personal connections of how our bodies mark our family lineage not only in physical resemblance but also in how we relate to the women in our families, namely our mothers. My friend has been reading a book that has been inspired some of this conversation.
My own body is very different from my mother’s. So is my health.
I am short. I am muscular. Even in my thinnest of times, I have a roll of skin around my waist that I have feared made me look fat. (ha!)
When I introduce myself as a dancer, I think most people are surprised. In truth, I don’t know what they are thinking but I always think they are thinking that I don’t look like a dancer (sylph or stripper). I think I am glad on both accounts. But I always fight the urge of saying, “I know I don’t fit your image of a dancer”. On some level, I feel like I have to apologize for not living up to the picture in their minds. In truth, how many even have a picture of a dancer in their minds? And even if I looked differently, it still wouldn’t help them understand what I do. But that is a whole other post waiting to be written….
So, what do I want my daughter to inherit?
A sense that if you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
A sense that with strength and flexibility, you can do anything.
A sense that health beats skinniness.
A sense of how to eat properly.
A sense that she doesn’t have to conform.
A sense that happiness is the best feeling of all.
A sense that she is worth it.
And a sense that……
“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”
Thank you, Shakespeare.
Thanks, Mom, for it being true. It is one quality we do share.
I think H has it, too.