Monday, May 6, 2013

The Thigh Edition

(NOTE: I've opened up the comments so if you want to share a story or a photo or a link to your own post about this issue, please do.)

This is pretty much what I wear when I teach.

When I first started this work, I was coming from the yoga world to re-enter the dance world and so I wore the costume of the yogini.

But I have a lot of tactile issues and I started to get more and more uncomfortable in yoga pants as my own method of teaching evolved away from yoga to ideas more purely based in dance.

It hit me that dancers have NOT run out and started wearing yoga clothes so I started experimenting with tights again and finally came up with what worked for me. Tights but not a leotard -- layered shirts instead -- and either knit dance pants scrunched up (like in this picture) or yoga shorts OVER the tights.

My costume, as I like to call it, is based in comfort of the physical and emotional variety.

Because no matter how far I have come from disordered eating, the body dysmorphia still visits in waves, and those tights hide my most vulnerable space -- my knees and thighs -- from my own cruel eyes.

It can be bad enough that it takes my breath away -- this dark, hidden hatred of my own body parts when I teach other women to LOVE themselves, to care for themselves, to accept the beauty and strength that is their inherent nature.

But I think I teach this because I didn't get it...from the time I was very little, I was told that I had been unlucky enough to inherit my thigh genes from the wrong side of the family. Every summer, when it was time to wear shorts, I was reminded. Every summer.

I internalized that voice and that shame and now I work with other women, hoping that I am creating a space in which those voices can be forever silenced or a space, at least, where the voices can't get us -- the safety zone of the studio and our togetherness.

Don't worry too much -- it is not like it used to be. I used to live 24/7 with those critical voices and so to have them visit only occasionally feels like a big victory.

But I do not feel victorious when I am surrounded by them. Yet again: Why am I here? Why do I keep failing? Why do I keep FALLING?

That place. I am betting a lot of you know this place. Judgment layered upon shame layered upon judgment...


This past week, I went to the studio for my alone time, as I try to do twice a week.  It was a warm and beautiful day.

I wore capri tights. Which I hate. They are also short waisted and I hate where they hit me. Very uncomfortable, but I thought footless regular tights would be too much and that I could deal with the capris.

Turns out that I could NOT deal. They were so annoying that I could barely move, much less really focus on the work at hand.

Fuck it. I went into my office and took them off. Put my dance shorts on. Over my naked legs.

Over my naked knees and thighs. My dance shorts. Which are, well, VERY SHORT.

I went to work.

Right away, I felt better. Those damn tights were gone.

Then. The. Mirror.

Oh. Those. Mirrors.

The studio only has a few little ones and most people are not near them in classes.

I think mirror-less work is important but I also think looking in the mirror, facing ourselves, facing those fears, is just as important.

I became mesmerized by the sight of my legs. And not in a good way.

Their size, first and foremost. The way they...moved when I moved.

I was almost crying. Getting to that point of the crying-trying-to-come-but-just-hurting-my-chest.

I decided to try something new. There is this floor work that I am practicing lately. Think of like dancing planks to the extreme. Takes tons of strength and focus and has been a place of wonder and discovery for me the last few months.

I went to the floor. And something shifted. My legs looked SUPER long. And twisty. And strong.

I stood and started to dance (still with the I said, it's important...) and this time, I wasn't distracted. I was just back to being fascinated by my process.

I was proud of myself.

This issue is not gone, for sure, but I did not pack up and leave the studio at the first sign of this difficulty. Even when I was almost crying, I did not put my pants back on and go home.

I kept trying.

And in order to push myself WAY further, here I am in those shorts and no tights.  This is NOT for you to comment on. This is to inspire the rest of you out there to share that body with which you find only fault -- or that part that makes you angry or sad -- share it and love it. Come out of the hate closet and into the light.

(You can share photos, if you like, over at the studio's Facebook page.)