My first time at school, I was 10 years old. By the time I’d been there a few years I had a very low level of weight and I was worried because I didn’t want to get a bad attitude from the other boys. We couldn’t have kids in class if they were thin because it was so bad that we lost so many students and that was a big problem. I didn’t know what I was doing. That’s why it wasn’t until I started to try to be a fat girl.
That’s really interesting, because many people have talked about how this kind of attitude is the big problem, that our children don’t want to feel rejected by fat people, like there’s a fatphobia, when it’s really the other way round.
That’s true. A lot of it is that they have a lot of people talking about them, and the whole idea that we’re all a bunch of fat-hating fags. I felt shame because I didn’t look like most of my classmates. And I was told, “You don’t look like me.” That’s when I realised that you don’t have to be skinny to belly dance.
We’ve also talked about the stigma around female body image. In the early days of the fat acceptance movement, when it was a new field, there was a strong taboo around discussing this subject — no one wanted to talk about it because, you know, fat men might be offended. There were two sides to that and it was kind of a polarising thing.
I’ve been through a lot of weight-related experiences, but there’s never one moment that’s the trigger for me. It’s always how I look at this moment, at this moment, when I hear someone talking about the fatphobia that I’m dealing with on a daily basis. As that person tells me that this person that’s talking negatively is probably overweight, or what do I do, what do I talk about? What do I do? What do I say? And I know when I have these moments that will be a huge, huge, huge turning point.
Now, having been there for so long, you must have an idea of what it’s like to be a young person who is overweight.
I did actually! I felt so bad as a child. I knew that my body was too big and that my weight was never gonna fit around my body. And I knew, as a kid, that I would
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