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Body Image and Belly Dance

Updated on June 24, 2017
Tricia Deed profile image

Tricia Deed enjoys writing about dance. She has had years instructing belly dancing in cabaret, ethnic and folkloric styles.

Belly Dancers Are Confident

Azizi in performance with double veil preparing for a spinning presentation.
Azizi in performance with double veil preparing for a spinning presentation. | Source

Attractive Body Image

All females, regardless of their age, are faced with body image concerns. As youngsters we are easily impressed and copy the fashions of movie and television celebrities. As teenagers we want to be part of the “in-group” and dress accordingly. Young women are concerned about their wardrobe to be male catchers. The older woman wants to maintain a youthful look representing her youthful feeling and energy level.

Some of us feel socially pressured to dress correctly and appropriately as individuals to make an impression, dress for success in our careers, and to dress appropriately at a variety of functions. Our attractiveness and body image is with us for many years in both social and business relationships.

The error that is made is to dress in an image which has been set by others. It takes time and experience to learn that we set our own image standard and when we find it we are confident and comfortable with our being.

Physical Exercises

Women exercise in the home, office, a gym, or at a health club or spa.
Women exercise in the home, office, a gym, or at a health club or spa. | Source

Exercises or Plastic Surgery

Women are torturing themselves trying to get a slender waistline, flat abdomen, slender and shapely legs, curvy hips, and ample breasts. Women will attempt many different types of exercises looking for a magical solution and if not satisfied will seek the services of a plastic surgeon.

Interestingly, not every woman who subjects her self to plastic surgery is happy with the results. It is not the fault of the surgeon, but the expectations of the patient. When considering surgery do your research and meet with three different types of surgeons before making a decision. If possible, talk to others who have had the surgeries that you may be considering.

Ask the surgeon questions:

  1. Will there be a lifetime of exercises or maintenance after surgery?
  2. Will there be a need for future replacement or removal of implants?
  3. Will the procedure need to be redone?
  4. What are the side effects?

One of my friends had the fatty tissue in her legs removed thinking that her legs would always look attractive. However, after surgery she learned that she would have to do a lifetime of exercises. She thought that surgery would eliminate the need for exercising.

Another friend had breast enlargements after which she was disappointed in learning of the encapsulation problems and negative responses from the men in her life. Sometimes replacements of breast implants will need to be replaced or removed.

Belly Dancer in Motion

Exotic Belly Dancer Isolated on Black Stock Photo.
Exotic Belly Dancer Isolated on Black Stock Photo. | Source

Belly Dancing Body Image

Belly dancing is a path which can be taken to discover and maintain our body image. Every female is a unique being and should not be trying to mold her body into a beauty standard established by others as their definition of the perfect body.

This form of dance and its exercises will help a woman to gain her confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem. The exercises and dance movements will help to rearrange her body to her liking and the costume will help to camouflage or enhance certain body parts.

Most importantly, her thinking and attitude of self will be the primary changes of value to enjoy her uniqueness.

Dancers focus on their dance and discipline their bodies for physical interpretation and communication initiated by the music. The vocalist sings words, the dancer uses her body.

The change of mental focus from external to internal is the magic which creates a positive attitude, respect, and appreciation for her body as it is.

Performing A Veil Dance

Pretty Belly Dancer Performing.
Pretty Belly Dancer Performing. | Source

Body Types and Costuming

Belly dancers come in all body types; slim, medium, and heavy. And each woman delights in her belly dance accomplishments. This dance offers a variety of styles which will allow a woman to enjoy her body’s contribution.

The costuming gives each woman a positive experience which helps with a positive body image of self. Each woman is more concerned with her dance performance rather than her body image. If her dancing efforts are correct and her body produces the necessary movements then the experience is beautiful, fulfilling, and spiritual. This combination of beauty, body abilities, and self awareness makes a woman feel confident and comfortable with her being and sensuality.

Femininity and Sensuality

A belly dancer communicates sensuality and femininity with her mind, body, and spirit.
A belly dancer communicates sensuality and femininity with her mind, body, and spirit. | Source

Sensual Dancing

People view belly dancing as being sexual. However, the dancer does not portray her body in a sexual manner as portrayed in erotic dancing; such as strippers and burlesque.

The dancer is more concerned with sensuality for herself and for her audience. What is sensuality?

Consider sensuality as bringing the beauty of music through body movements producing mental and/or physical pleasure and joy. Both the dancer and the audience will experience the slow and gentle movements in reference to softness, gracefulness, and warmth.

The dancer may feel the sensuality both physically and mentally and the audience may sensually relate to mental and vicariously experience physical sensuality. Sensuality can be experienced without sexual implications.

The performing belly dancer illustrates on stage:

  1. A woman’s beauty and femininity
  2. Emotional changes of smiling, happiness, and fun
  3. The athletic abilities of muscle control of difficult and intricate movements
  4. Interprets and communicates the lyrics or the rhythm of the music with her acting skills
  5. The audience admires the dancer’s physical and personality beauty and appreciates her choreographed dance which may represent a particular culture or style.
  6. The performance is sensual for both the performer and the audience to experience their senses of pleasure.

Erotic Dancing

Strippers and erotic dancers are a category of their own. There is no relationship between their concept and belly dancing.
Strippers and erotic dancers are a category of their own. There is no relationship between their concept and belly dancing. | Source

Strip Teasing and Burlesque

Erotic dancing is sexually suggestive and contains direct sexual messaging. This form of dance should never be compared with belly dancing. Unfortunately these performers will wear risque versions of the night club costume styles worn by Egyptian and Turkish dancers in their acts which suggests to the audience that belly dancers are also erotic performers. This is a grave misconception and very erroneous.

Strip Teasing and Burlesque Described:

  1. Displays the emotional and physical teasing and taunting as well as physical sexual movements which are done in the privacy of the bedroom then illustrated in a stage presentation with a live viewing audience.
  2. The performer glorifies her body and intentionally displays her body for sexual reasons.
  3. The dancer struts on stage to advertise and sell her sexual abilities. The dancer taunts and teases the audience with intent of sexual arousal.
  4. Costuming is designed for sexual arousal and easy removal towards nudity.
  5. The dancer uses sexual gestures to suggest or imitate intimate sex.
  6. Soft to hard pornography for sexual arousal.

Belly Dancer With Long Black Hair

Side pose of a belly dancer with long hair.
Side pose of a belly dancer with long hair. | Source

Positive Body Image

The American society is very challenging of its females to accomplish tasks which are assigned or demanded of an industrial nation. The stress and tension of these expectations tend to slowly wear down many females and they are seeking a form of release which can be fun for those things which females like to do. For those who are struggling with weight issues, physical beauty, a need for creativity and self-accomplishments, and mental stimulation for excitement to escape boredom and repetition this dance is often their outlet.

This art form is a retreat for all that is feminine. This dance offers a world of imagination, creativity and outlets for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual participation. This is the quickest and easiest method for building the desired personal body image.

Building A Body Image:

  1. The belly dancer builds her body image from the internal to the external.
  2. Her confidence is reinforced.
  3. She has built her self-worth and self-esteem with her natural abilities and talents.
  4. She discovers that there is a beautiful woman within as well as her body being beautiful.
  5. Knowledge helps her intellectual powers.
  6. Optimistic social relationships build strength and well being (classmates)
  7. Mentors with high standards elevate her being (instructors and celebrities)
  8. A spiritual uplift of her feminism

Building Your Body Image

What type of exercising or dancing do you enjoy for changing your physical image?

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    • Tyrse Fayewood profile image

      Tyrse Fayewood 

      12 months ago

      Really appreciate your wisdom around this topic and the exposure thereof. Thank you, Tricia!

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