It is common knowledge that since the advent of the famous supermodel, Twiggy, from the 60s, changed the view of female beauty from curvy to extreme thinness, women in the Western world have suffered from low self-esteem with regard to their figures. Fashion and society have taught women to reject their curves, going to extreme measures to rid them. We all know about eating disorders, extreme exercising, and body image obsession in order to achieve this unrealistic appearance. The result – low self-esteem. Culturally, women’s self-worth has largely revolved around how thin they are. As well, trying to achieve a body image that is only natural to a very small percentage of the female population is a sure fire way to feel bad about oneself. It’s a rejection of who a woman intrinsically is.
Step in bellydancing. This dance counteracts the cultural bias toward thinness. The nature of the dance emphasizes the natural curves of a woman. Despite its name, hip movements are central to belly dance. Students of bellydance learn to extend their hips to its maximum ability to draw focus to this area. Also, the costuming of the dance accents the hip area by using hip scarves and hip belts. For many women, once they start belly dancing, they start to embrace their hips and grow to love them. After all, the pelvic region, is arguable one of the most powerful parts of a woman’s body since they are wider than men’s to allow for childbirth.
In Toronto, some eating disorder treatment centres have introduced belly dance classes as part of the recovery protocol. Because bellydance embraces the natural curves of a woman, women’s need to starve themselves often dissipates.
In short, belly dancing raises women’s self-esteem because it embraces and emphasizes women’s natural physiques alleviating the impossible pressure to be something most women are not naturally – Twiggy thin.