Friday, December 17, 2010

From One Athlete to Another...

*Disclaimer: I l.o.v.e. to dance... shake what my mama gave me, close my eyes and let the rhythm move me - and I have a soft spot in my heart for tango and ballroom dancing. I'm talking about the weird world of competitive ballet....*

So you may know that I play water polo. But I am, like, surrounded by dancers. My sister is an amazing dancer; my mom loves dance so much that she even tried to get me (the tomboy) to take introductory ballet classes when I was 15. Yes... this was too late, in my humble opinion - never mind what my mom thought of my arch or my turnout.

And I don't know if it's luck, or the sheer fact that I may be the rare little girl who didn't dance as a child - but most of my friends have a considerable history with dance. Specifically with ballet.

Every single one has a similar story: there came a point in her young lovely life where she began to look less like little girl and more like (gasp!) a woman. You know this as puberty - likely the most fragile period of any person's life - and these girls are routinely shunned and turned away from activities in which they excel. Activities that should fill them with a sense of personal pride and grace, dignity and composure, instead begin to make them hate themselves and what they are becoming. Women. Beautiful, athletic women.

Because, make no mistake, while I'm considered to be the 'athlete' of the family - water polo goalie, hello! - my sister the dancer is infinitely stronger than I'll ever be.

And this is where the heart of my confusion (concern?) lies. There are times when I am swimming and my muscles literally give my brain an ultimatum. Eat something - preferably concentrated protein - in the next ten minutes or we're going to refuse to work. I've actually been so hungry, mid-workout, that I've gotten out of the pool and eaten something, only to jump back in... all so I can keep swimming.

How is it that people dance and leap and generally kick ass for multiple hours a day (I'm talking about dancers who go pro - or whatever) starve themselves into these tiny tiny molds? Of course when you see a ballet, you want to be able to see the movement - and I truly believe that the human body is a beautiful, extraordinary thing - but maybe we could start to accept that people come in different shapes and sizes.

I know I'm 5'9" (175 cm) - but I think that my skeleton weighs more than the target most dancers aim for.... But what if I were really talented? Would I have been turned away in my formative years? Sigh... I know. I'm in 'thinking out loud mode', again. But why are women continually subjected to this mind games?

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