I’ve always thought belly dancing was beautiful. Provocative, as well. Maybe a bit taboo? Perhaps. After having spent roughly nine hours—yes, nine—watching a myriad of dancers my opinion hasn’t changed.
It has been utterly transformed.
Long Beach, California. The Belly Dancer of the Universe Competition 2015. Dancers from all over the US, as well as Turkey, Japan, Russia, and Taiwan came and shook their all on the stage.
My initial reaction to the very first dancer was, “Wow. I can’t believe she’s moving her hips like that—in front of everyone!” My second thought was, “Wow. I can’t believe she’s moving her hips like that!” My third thought was, “Wow. I wish I could move my hips like that.”
A few more dancers came out on stage, and my reactions moved from the initial prudish shock to a more mature appraisal of talent. Then, it was my sister’s turn.
As soon as I saw her, a wash of sisterly pride poured through me. That was MY sister. My little sister. Then began a tumultuous churning of emotions coursing through me. I remembered her as a baby, a little girl, a teenager.. As I sat in that seat, breath held, eyes glued to the stage, I saw her—for the very first time (consciously anyway)—as a full grown woman. She owned her sensuality with such grace and beauty, it humbled me.
And, FYI, she won People’s Choice. ‘Cause she’s the shit. Just sayin’.
I’ve always thought I’d done okay being a woman. I mean, I smell good. I wear cute clothes. I get my hair and nails done. That’s good enough, right? Maybe. But, watching these women, my sister especially, I figured there was room for growth here. I watched their eyes as they moved and wondered what it must feel like to be fully in my body. To own my femininity in its entirety, without criticism, judgment, or doubt. To love all of my curves, flaws, and imperfections unconditionally. After all, they are what make me…me.
I might like to dip my toe in the water.
Well. Jump in the deep end is probably more like it.
I admired each of the women for getting up on that stage and performing, allowing their souls to shine. The freedom they experience must be a heady thing. While I’m sure some or all of them feel the aching judgment the mirror sometimes gives all of us, I know for a fact—because I saw it with my own eyes—they don’t let that judgment get the better of them. They show up. For the art, for their peers, for themselves.
The idea, perpetuated by our society, that women should hide their sensuality, reject their sexuality, and diminish their emotions hit home far stronger that day than it ever has before. These women did none of that. They flirted, undulated, and flaunted their feminine asses off. They were bold, beautiful, and brassy. Their emotion captivated, their strength inspired, their vulnerability enthralled.
They epitomized femininity. They exemplified beauty.
Each and every one of them, regardless of their size, shape, or color was a stunningly beautiful woman.
It’s time the rest of us show up. Show up for our daughters. Our sisters. Our friends. Show up for ourselves.
Because, we are all beautiful women.
“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode, but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows.
The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”