I just heard some upsetting news today, so I’m trying to be proactive & DO something to help the situation.
Some of the girls in my old college bellydance club (I graduated, but still keep close ties w/the group) have been hearing some ugly comments made about the club lately. ..Specifically, about the weight of the club’s members. Among the general scoffs and sniggers you might expect a bellydance club to get in a small-town, southern campus, it sounds like some folks are “taking it up a notch.” One girl just overheard TWO separate groups of people- on either side of her, in a main gathering place, openly making disparaging remarks about how “fat” the group is. ..Simultaneously…
She was too shy to stand up and say something to them, and knowing how loud & boistrous some people can be, I can’t say I entirely blame her. For many reasons, sometimes you just don’t want to have to fight the world and its ignorance every day. And imho, this is NOTHING but ignorance. The girls in this troupe are all GORGEOUS, and most of them don’t have anything more on their beautiful bones beyond “the freshman 15.” It sounds to me like some peoples’ expectations are more based on strippers than ACTUAL bellydancers, and their deriding AMAZING young women for adhering to these expectations (in my book) is NOT okay.
Ironically (just a few days before), their new president decided to start an anti-bullying campaign (as part of their aim to involve the club w/a charity). I don’t know about anyone else, but personally I think this is the PERFECT opportunity for them to combat bullying, while simultaneously confronting peoples’ erroneous stereotypes about bellydance in that area. (And heck, maybe even body issues & acceptance as well.)
And that’s when the idea hit me: How awesome would it be to start an image campaign around the school, comparing peoples’ preconceived notions of strippers w/the REALITY (and insane beauty) of bellydance?? (And no, it’s not about demeaning ANYONE. It’s about educating people on how stripping & bellydance are two TOTALLY different things. It’s about encouraging people to have two TOTALLY different sets of expectations between one realm of performance and the other- if any MUST exist- as well as upon their participants.) That way, the club could not only educate people & challenge their assumptions, but also make folks aware of the club; while simultaneously sharing w/others how enriching and empowering bellydance can be! ^_^
So.. what do you think?
The images above are only the start of the ideas flowing, but all I have is Paint on my laptop, so this is the best I can do. ;\ Do you know of anywhere online that speaks of issues like these already? Do images like those above already exist? If so PLEASE, point me to them! *beams* And if you have any suggestions for other things their club could do to combat this ignorance and ugliness, please, pop that my way as well. :):)
I know I’m biased, but I want these girls (and EVERYONE on campus- let alone the world) to be comfortable w/who they are, WHATEVER they are, REGARDLESS of body size, ability, race… You know, all the superficial stuff that divides us…
I guess I’m just weird for thinking that bellydance can be a great means of helping w/ that. ;)
PS: If you or someone you know is in one of these pictures and would like to be removed, please feel free to give me a holler. This was just an attempt at making a visual statement to educate folks in a small-town school, and no copyright infringement was intended. If someone wants ANY of the above pictures removed, please, feel free to contact me, and I’ll happily make something different. :)