Moving Beyond Body Concerns
One of the biggest psychological challenges I faced in my first few years of dancing was body image.
I wasn’t nearly as svelte as I would have liked – actually I was a bit bigger than pleasantly plump. Being very aware of my pudge, I was extremely uncomfortable with another man’s hands anywhere on my body – let alone have our legs or hips touch. Since I was also reserved, other than hugs with friends or relatives, I probably hadn’t had physical contact with a man other than my husband in over 30 years.
And for some unfathomable reason, touching legs was a bigger deal that just hands on my back. I vividly remember the first time an instructor’s legs moved between mine – we were dancing American tango. I am sure (although we’ve never talked about it) that he felt my involuntary flinch. “Oh my”, I thought, “This is more intimate than I expected.” To his credit, we just kept dancing until I relaxed and became somewhat more comfortable.
The next big body hurdle – at least for me – is that I perspire – a lot. I mean I perspire down my back to the point that my top gets soaked or I stop a lesson to wipe my forehead so the sweat doesn’t drip into my eyes. Sweating profusely conflicts with my desire to be pristine – I don’t want anyone to touch my sticky back, etc.
So I’ve learned to:
- buy tops that float and breathe
- bring extra tops to lessons
- tuck a tissue up a sleeve (or elsewhere)
- realize many of us sweat, so our instructors are used to it
Finally, if you compete, there’s another concern – body odor. For those of you who aren’t aware, if you are a female competitor, your dance partner/instructor may not want you to use antiperspirants during a competition – for fear of said products leaving a residue on his costume. Really?
Fortunately, I’ve discovered some (almost) natural deodorants that don’t stain. So while I may sweat profusely, at least I won’t stink.