The Legacy of Body

H has my movement sensibility. She has my height and strong-like-bull stature. I hope she adopts the celebration of my body I am enjoying now and not the criticisms and sense of defeat that have been present at other points in my life.

I have a hard time discerning how much of my feelings about my body are from being a dancer and how much are common for every woman. I realize probably every woman has challenges with body image and developing a healthy picture of how the ideal body should look and feel at least within a phase of their life. Dealing with middle schoolers on a daily basis, and asking them to look in the mirror often, I know this is true.

I am increasingly more conscious of what my body- the concept, the reference, the physical identity- means for my daughter. What will be the legacy of body in our family?

I have been having a fascinating conversation with a dear and brilliant friend much of this summer about the body and body image. We are making important personal connections of how our bodies mark our family lineage not only in physical resemblance but also in how we relate to the women in our families, namely our mothers. My friend has been reading a book that has been inspired some of this conversation.

My own body is very different from my mother’s. So is my health.

I am short. I am muscular. Even in my thinnest of times, I have a roll of skin around my waist that I have feared made me look fat. (ha!)

When I introduce myself as a dancer, I think most people are surprised. In truth, I don’t know what they are thinking but I always think they are thinking that I don’t look like a dancer (sylph or stripper). I think I am glad on both accounts. But I always fight the urge of saying, “I know I don’t fit your image of a dancer”. On some level, I feel like I have to apologize for not living up to the picture in their minds. In truth, how many even have a picture of a dancer in their minds? And even if I looked differently, it still wouldn’t help them understand what I do. But that is a whole other post waiting to be written….

So, what do I want my daughter to inherit?
A sense that if you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
A sense that with strength and flexibility, you can do anything.
A sense that health beats skinniness.
A sense of how to eat properly.
A sense that she doesn’t have to conform.
A sense that happiness is the best feeling of all.
A sense that she is worth it.

And a sense that……

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”

Thank you, Shakespeare.
Thanks, Mom, for it being true. It is one quality we do share.

I think H has it, too.

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5 thoughts on “The Legacy of Body

  1. This is wonderful! I always think of bringing in images for dancers to use for some type of creative project with my students. But somethings has always stopped me. After reading your thoughts I know know. I don’t want to present the students with with what the media often presents as the image of a dancer. Often this is a relection of our standardized society. This is so restricting. They need to look deep inside and develop their own dancer….the one they are created to be.

    1. Oh interesting! Thanks for sharing. I found a quote on Pinterest last year that says something like: “Caution- the image you see is a socially constructed view”. Or something like that. I plan to find caution tape to put on the mirrors and post that quote to lead some improvisation/composition, and class dialogue. I had planned to do it this spring but our other composition experience was too good to give up and I took it further.

      I do post images of dancers in the room and we watch dance. And I intentionally talk about bodies with kids of all ages. I also allow them to look at the images and have their own conversations- jumping in when there is an opportunity or a need. (I wrote about that in one of my MSU posts on EducatingDancers,….will find it and link).

      I think awareness is a great tool for developing their own dancer/person. Thanks for writing. It is always good to hear from you, Kerry. Heather

      1. Hi Heather,

        Thanks so much for your response. I like the caution tape…….I have no mirrors where I teach now (for the first time) and I like how the kids can move without relying on their “mirror image”. It is great to hear from you too!

    2. Kerry, Here is the post that includes how I used the posted images of dancers. http://educatingdancers.com/2013/01/24/cycle-1-how-much-of-what-we-teach-is-curriculum/

      On Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 8:59 AM, Heather Vaughan-Southard wrote:

      > Oh interesting! Thanks for sharing. > I found a quote on Pinterest last year that says something like: “Caution- > the image you see is a socially constructed view”. Or something like that. > I plan to find caution tape to put on the mirrors and post that quote to > lead some improvisation/composition, and class dialogue. I had planned to > do it this spring but our other composition experience was too good to give > up and I took it further. > > I do post images of dancers in the room and we watch dance. And I > intentionally talk about bodies with kids of all ages. I also allow them to > look at the images and have their own conversations- jumping in when there > is an opportunity or a need. (I wrote about that in one of my MSU posts on > EducatingDancers,….will find it and link). > > I think awareness is a great tool for developing their own dancer/person. > Thanks for writing. It is always good to hear from you, Kerry. > Heather > > > On Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 8:36 AM, educatingdancers <

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