James and I took dance lessons with Windy City Wedding Dance leading up to the wedding. After following owner Jessica Mays on Facebook for a little while, I noticed all the costumes and the hair and the makeup for ballroom dancing competitions, and thought that perhaps body pressures were intense. Jessica (who is an AWESOME STRONG WOMAN) wrote this post for Body Boop to explain:
My name is Jessica and I currently reside in Chicago. I moved here from Texas in 2008 and I love beer, pizza, and ballroom dance! I am a teacher, competitive ballroom dancer, and dance studio owner.
This past year I had the opportunity to spend quality time with James and Nicole while they prepared for their wedding and their First Dance.
Towards the end of our dance lessons we exchanged social media information. It wasn’t until I connected with Nicole on Facebook that I was able to learn more about her victories and her journey. It was her blog that let me in behind the scenes into Nicole’s life.
As we continued to communicate after the wedding, we talked briefly about the pressures behind ballroom dance and body image.
It was just six years ago when I walked into my first dance lesson on Michigan Avenue. After just three weeks into the lessons, I was ready to sign up for a ballroom dance competition. I was hooked. Everything was going as planned. I bought the shoes, the dance tights that sucked you in like the jaws of life, and I paid for the competition. I was ready to go, but wait, what was I going to wear? I was told a local costume maker would be in the dance studio and we could rent dresses from her. Perfect right?
Okay, so now the competition is one week away. Bonnie, the dress maker, comes over to the studio. I make sure I’m the first one to arrive so I get my first choice. We talk and she points me towards my sizes and I grab several dresses. I hate shopping for bathing suits, and this was comparable. Everything was spandex, and there was nowhere to hide. To top it off, I had to walk out in the middle of the studio with mirrors on every wall and show my teacher. I thought I would just die. I was so squirmy and couldn’t wait to put my clothes back on! I picked the best dresses and then rented two for my competition. I had no other choice.
Next, I booked a custom spray tan. Excellent choice by the way, when you are competitive dancing in a dress that looks like a youth small. So, after I got my hair and makeup done, put on my pantyhose, and squeezed into my body condom, I was ready to go. Still feeling a little hesitant, I walked into the ballroom, and saw all different shapes, sizes, and ages of women and men embracing a sport I now call my career, ballroom dance. Every competitor looked like a walking disco ball. We could have lined up on a runway and waved in a few planes. Everyone, no matter their size, felt like a million bucks.
What’s changed today? My own self body image is completely different. I may not be as firm in some places as I was several years ago, but I feel better today because I perceive myself in a different light. Those costumes don’t terrify me anymore like they did. For the first year while dancing, I couldn’t even look in the mirror. It made me feel very uncomfortable. I didn’t like the way I looked. Today I embrace my curves and height at 5’9″. I feel like the Anna Nicole Smith of ballroom dance, when she was healthy and curvy. I know that ballroom dance changed me and forced me to explore a new me out of my comfort zone. Ballroom dance changed the way I felt, the way I walked, and made me stand up very tall. I transformed from a insecure tomboy into someone different and confident.
My next competition is two weeks away. I have been meaning to stop eating pizza this week and then I got busy and forgot and I’ve now had pizza two days in a row.
So, in conclusion there is nowhere to hide and no need to hide. Eat a pizza and drink a beer.
For more information on ballroom dance go to www.windycityweddingdance.com.