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  1. #1
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Students and Weight Issues

    So i've noticed that some of my students seem kind of offended by some of my cyomments. I say things like "Yay that's good I see booties shaking," or "Let your belly go I wanna see everything giggling," or "The dance looks different on everyone depending on their size, shape, build, and individual expression," or "jelly is good, booty is good, belly is good, let's leave ouside all the negativity they tell us about our bodies," or "Having something to shake is good in this dance, no one wants to see a six pack shaking or a muscle butt."

    Now a little background about me. I'm very tall and thin but I think I have Body Dysmorphic Disorder in a good way. In my mind i'm curvy and thickand I feel good about that. Now I do have some curves but i'm actually quite thin. So i'm always praising curves and in the dance company i'm a member of we celebrate the feminine form so i'm very comfortable with that. We're always talking about someone being juicy or having a great booty.

    I realize that alot of my students aren't comfortable with it. And don't usually hear anything like that. Plus they don't probably want to hear anything about fine womanly bodies from a skinny chick.

    That said, I don't want to seem like I don't care about their feelings. But at the same time, you can't get very far in this dance form if you're holding in your stomach and feeling fat and unattractive. I know I don't have control over anyone's self esteem but it just breaks my heart. ..cr.:

    I never thought much about it before but lately this has been on my mind. So I went into Victoria's Secret on Michigan Avenue and saw those huge walls of the Angels. It's really sick, no one looks like that. Even tall thin women don't look like that. Why must they have fake breasts and such strange stomach muscles. So I guess my little class is up against alot.

    Has anyone else experienced this? What are your suggestions?


  2. #2
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    I've never observed people seeming offended when I say things like that. You are VERY thin, so maybe that's it? I don't think I'd be offended personally by hearing comments like that from a thin instructor, but I know a LOT of women who seem offended by other women's thinness. When I was really skinny, other women had no problem sneering at me and telling me they hated me! It was very hurtful, and they weren't kidding, those women didn't want to be friends with me on any level.

    I hope someone here has some advice for you.


  3. #3
    Advanced BHUZzer leylalanty's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Can you show them any videos of well known professionals? You say you are thin, so maybe if they see what you're talking about on some dancers with more meat on their bones, that would help them. How about Fifi Abdo's incredibly loose shimmies where EVERYthing moves? I've seen her abdomen wave side to side over 2 inches during a shimmy. (I've got mine up to about and inch and a half and am working on it ..l;,) How about videos of Fifi and other big name dancers like Mona Said showing their backsides really jiggling. Then there's Nagua Fuad and her upper body shimmies which make her breasts really travel! Randa's shimmies make her abdomen and booty really go too - juicy!


  4. #4
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    You are VERY thin, so maybe that's it? .
    Thin? I'm thick and juicy. Lol

    Quote Originally Posted by Lauren_ View Post
    When I was really skinny, other women had no problem sneering at me and telling me they hated me! It was very hurtful, and they weren't kidding, those women didn't want to be friends with me on any level.
    Yeah women have been telling me for a long time that they hate me, i'm so skinny, while smiling. I don't really care because I don't see myself as very skinny and I don't care much what other people think about me. But it is a very strange phenomenon.


  5. #5
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Yes I do show them and inevitably they say. "Wow she's not skinny!" Now keep in mind that i've been telling them that for weeks by then.


  6. #6
    Mega BHUZzer david's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Hi Rakgirl.

    I have had experience with various student issues:
    - skinny students being offended by comments
    - shapy students being offended by comments
    - half&half students being offended by comments
    - female students being offended by comments
    - male students being offended by comments
    - short students being offended by comments
    - tall students being offended by comments
    - etc etc etc

    In this dance, there are various generic or "preferred" looks for various styles. I.E. Egyptian is shapier, Turkish is skinny, Lebanese is big chested, American cabaret is slender to shapy, Tribal style is shapier, Tribal fusion is skinnier etc. It's difficult to change, because students believe what they see - they compare themselves to the famous dancers.

    Another side of this - being in SoCal this is an issue I never even thought would be a problem before I started teaching - that people are way focused on being hot in a bikini for free rather than being hot in their $600 costumes and get paid gigs! It's strange to me being a dancer since a young age that someone would prioritize like that. To me I carry my thick thighs and ehrrrm gluteuses with pride and dont get frustrated when my jeans size changes because of them. But many students seem to do. I have started informing them that their bodies will change from who they are today to a dancer's body and in our school, thats a goal so they dont injure themselves and come across as professional representatives in performances.

    Our job as instructors to include everyone and make everyone realize that the MOVEMENTS enhance the parts we refer to as instructors, not necessarily the dancer's body.

    I honestly used to try to be soooo sensitive to people's insecurities and try to make everyone feel comfortable and not be offended - but that just made matters worse really. So now I dont care if they like the focus of the dance or not, while in my class they will adapt to the concept of the dance (which people have done for what 3000 years already) rather than temporary trends in fashion. And since I did, my students seem very comfortable. We all have or have had body issues - you wont believe how many D&G students I have had with so many issues that I almost feel like I should just have a plastic surgery overhaul if THEY are having that many issues. The issues is not whether we have insecurities or not, it's how we as instructors work around them and make our students realize that this dance puts focus on/celebrates whatever you got and puts focus on things that you may not have.

    You have a couple of options, Rakgirl.... either you can quit making comments and your classes become very suffocating for you to teach as you cant be yourself and motivate through such commentary.... or you may use yourself as an example and say stuff like "I dont have much of a booty, but this movement really makes it look like I do" etc.


  7. #7
    Mega BHUZzer david's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    continuing

    It's funny, when I was younger I was very skinny and androgyn looking and everyone were so worried about my potential eating disorder that I was in denial of and they always tried to feed me to beef me up and make me look like a "man". Now that my body changed into a man's body and not a "I'm delayed in puberty" body... I get comments like, yeah, you were REALLY skinny before or you've really gained weight.

    I make a huge deal of showing my students that I celebrate the change, just like I celebrated being slender/skinny. LOL.

    Bottomline is, I dont allow my students to bring their insecurities into the studio. Leave them at the door and pick them up on the way out. If you have small hips and you move even smaller because of it - nothings going to show. If you have big boobs and you slouch to make them look smaller - you just look like you dont have back muscle enough to carry what God gave you. etc etc etc. I'm pretty adement about whipping my students into shape when it comes to leaving their insecurities out of the classroom.

    Mind you, our classes/programs are mostly focused towards professional dancers or aspiring professionals and not too much towards hobbyist dancers... there might be a required "gentleness" when working with hobbyists....that I dont have to take into account too much in my work.

    We do have a bucket which we've named the Bucketiyya. She has arrows pointing into her with words such as "spouse, relationships, work, mortage, diet, food, weight, local dance drama" etc. The students are told to write their "issues" on a paper and put their "issues" in Bucketiyya before class and clear their minds. I think this may be a nice solution for others too. I thought it was a bit "unnecessary" at first, but it's REALLY worked... along with our code of conduct for classes it's made a huge difference in the work dicipline and focus of the students in class.

    Hope this helps,

    DaVid

    PS: D&G girls - dropdead&gorgeous girls i.e. girls that turn heads/look like models etc bla bla


  8. #8
    Kimahri
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rakgirl View Post
    So i've noticed that some of my students seem kind of offended by some of my cyomments. I say things like "Yay that's good I see booties shaking," or "Let your belly go I wanna see everything giggling," or "The dance looks different on everyone depending on their size, shape, build, and individual expression," or "jelly is good, booty is good, belly is good, let's leave ouside all the negativity they tell us about our bodies," or "Having something to shake is good in this dance, no one wants to see a six pack shaking or a muscle butt."
    packs up abs and muscle butt and flounces out

    ~~Kimahri


  9. #9
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Kimahri View Post
    packs up abs and muscle butt and flounces out

    ~~Kimahri

    But you still got juice. In fact I quote your comment about your son to my students as well about the fat on your back. And I think they think i'm crazy anyway cuz I have some abs as well.


  10. #10
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    shapy
    Best new word for not-thin EVER.


  11. #11
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Thanks David. You're right. They will be upset anyway. I'll just try to make the class a body image problem free zone.


  12. #12
    Mega BHUZzer indigostars's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    They may perceive you as an "outsider" and that you should comment on being not thin because you are.

    I really like the idea of a movie night where you let them see all sorts of beautiful bodies. Thin, curvy, etc. Perhaps, though, not make it so blatant that you're doing this specifically for the women to feel good about not being skinny; I think, even though your intentions are commendable, that you might come off as patronizing.


  13. #13
    Master BHUZzer Michelle75's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    I highly doubt you are doing this to upset your class but women are weird. I'm allowed to say that b/c I'm a woman. Hehehehe!!!

    Now, my best friend in the entire world is a 0 and she has to wear a belt.Sometimes she has to shop the Jr. department. She complains about her belly sticking out and I just roll my eyes and look down at my size 12/14 belly and cry. I know she isn't meaning to rub it in my face that she is ULTRA tiny but it does in a way, SO maybe that's how your class feels. Seeing a tiny framed woman saying things like, let your belly go, I want to see everything jiggling COULD come across as crass. Shrugs. Just sayin.

    I don't care. That's how my teacher instructed and we managed to survive and become descent dancers.
    Last edited by Michelle75; 11-29-2008 at 02:32 PM.


  14. #14
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by leylalanty View Post
    Can you show them any videos of well known professionals?
    This is an excellent idea. I'd share videos of dancers with lots of different body types (and ages). Rachel Brice is beautiful- so is Aida Nour. Share the joy in beautiful variety.

    Quote Originally Posted by david View Post
    ...
    I make a huge deal of showing my students that I celebrate the change, just like I celebrated being slender/skinny. LOL.
    I try not to focus on size either direction. To me health is something to celebrate. Yes, one's BMI can effect health, but it's a different perspective and for me a different priority.

    Quote Originally Posted by david View Post
    ... there might be a required "gentleness" when working with hobbyists....
    I agree with this. If your classes are mostly hobbyists they might not want to hear much at all (if anything) about size.

    I might have to flounce off with the whole six pack comment, too...l;, ..l;, Seriously, though, are you making negative comments about healthy bodies in class? That's not something I'd find too inspiring. Healthy bodies come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, including athletic / small.


  15. #15
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Michelle75 View Post
    I

    Now, my best friend in the entire world is a 0 and she has to wear a belt.Sometimes she has to shop the Jr. department. She complains about her belly sticking out and I just roll my eyes and look down at my size 12/14 belly and cry. I know she isn't meaning to rub it in my face that she is ULTRA tiny but it does in a way, SO maybe that's how your class feels. Seeing a tiny framed woman saying things like, let your belly go, I want to see everything jiggling COULD come across as crass. Shrugs. Just sayin.

    .
    I never make negative comments about my body. I'm the type to get excited about being bloated. I don't talk to my students about it because i'm aware that it bothers people. But I do talk to good friends about it.

    I don't know how else to get them to quit sucking in their stomachs. I guess I could just say that.


  16. #16
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by SamiraShuruk View Post
    Seriously, though, are you making negative comments about healthy bodies in class? That's not something I'd find too inspiring. Healthy bodies come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, including athletic / small.
    We can't assume all skinny bodies are healthy bodies. I don't make negative comments about it I just celebrate jiggle. I just think its way more interesting to watch a shimmy on someone who has something to shake. Well I guess its obviously that I think exactly opposit of most of them.


  17. #17
    Established BHUZzer patrisha's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    On the opposite end of things, some of our very best and talented dancers that have been with us are a bit on the "Zaftig" side, it was a struggle convincing them that they didnt have to make their moves small because they were bigger ladies. They had the misconception that if they moved smaller, they would look smaller when in reality, their shapi-ness enhanced the dance movements. It really is a great idea to let students see the "stars" of dance and how different all of them are built, I will bet that somewhere on some video someplace is a body type that they will identify with.


  18. #18
    Kimahri
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rakgirl View Post
    We can't assume all skinny bodies are healthy bodies. I don't make negative comments about it I just celebrate jiggle. I just think its way more interesting to watch a shimmy on someone who has something to shake. Well I guess its obviously that I think exactly opposit of most of them.

    Celebrating jiggle is fine but you can do that without tearing another body type down... "no one wants to see a six pack shaking or a muscle butt" IS a negative comment.


    ~~Kimahri


  19. #19
    Mega BHUZzer SamarDahab's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Kimahri View Post
    "no one wants to see a six pack shaking or a muscle butt" IS a negative comment.


    ~~Kimahri
    Maybe but then again none of them have a six pack or a muscle butt. None of them seem particularly bothered by those comments. Not like they seem when I comment positively about jiggle.

    I hear you tho. I'll watch out for that.


  20. #20
    Master BHUZzer Bahtya's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    You just keep being you rakgirl!

    I think the more we obsess about being sensitve to every little thing, the more over sensitive people get about everything!..c::

    As women we need to just get over ourselves and be thankful we even have a functioning body and two legs to stand on and dance (even if the two legs are knock kneed, bowllegged, lumpy, shapy, skinny, chicken legs, spider veiny, cellulite-y, muscled, flabby, bony, or WHATEVER)..l;,


  21. #21
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Zumarrad's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Maybe they just feel uncomfortable with jiggle and are embarrassed rather than mad?


  22. #22
    Established BHUZzer yaalini's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Hey, sometimes it's uncomfortable when the jello is a-jigglin!

    (Seriously. If I get the voluptua going it makes me a tad queasy)

    But why can't you just say "you can't get very far in this dance form if you're holding in your stomach" like you said here?

    Demonstrate the difference yourself.


  23. #23
    A journey of ten thousand miles begins with a single post. Lauren_'s Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    The more I think about this, the more I think there are topics that an 'outsider' just can't talk about too much.

    I taught a large private group of black women for about a year. If I'd made comments about their "black-ness" regularly, it wouldn't have gone over well. (I did tease them about their weaves a bit, saying things like 'If you have long hair today, you can toss it with this move' but they all know I wear fake hair to perform, so I was an insider on that one -- otherwise they would've strangled me).

    Maybe a teacher who isn't very jiggly just can't make the same comments as a teacher who has some extra juicy goodness? In that case the best you could do would be to show video of all body types, bring in advanced students with different body types for them to see at the front of the room with you, address the jiggle issue whenever it comes up, and talk about your own body but NOT theirs. You could say things like 'I wish I had a little more meat right here so you could see how gorgeous this move looks on an extra-juicy woman.' and maybe point out a particular student who illustrates your point.


  24. #24
    Advanced BHUZzer AngelaDiCaprio's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rakgirl View Post
    That said, I don't want to seem like I don't care about their feelings. But at the same time, you can't get very far in this dance form if you're holding in your stomach and feeling fat and unattractive. I know I don't have control over anyone's self esteem but it just breaks my heart. ..cr.:
    Hey! How did I get pulled into this conversation! <Tosses head and flounces out!>


  25. #25
    Master BHUZzer SamiraShuruk's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rakgirl View Post
    We can't assume all skinny bodies are healthy bodies.
    No one here said that. I said that healthy bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes including (but not limited to) athletic/small.
    Definitions might help in this discussion. ..g.:
    I've discovered people have different definitions of "skinny". To me, "skinny" is "too skinny; too much skin and bones". That is very different from "athletic / small". I also don't equate "athletic/small" as the only "healthy" type, merely one possibility. As someone who has been teaching fitness/movement/dance over 20 years; "healthy" to me is a combination of factors (BMI, cardio health, flexibility, strength, endurance. blood counts, blood pressure, resting pulse etc) that combine as a measure of health- not a size issue in any direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kimahri View Post
    Celebrating jiggle is fine but you can do that without tearing another body type down... "no one wants to see a six pack shaking or a muscle butt" IS a negative comment.
    ~~Kimahri
    Thanks for saying that Kimahri. I agree with this 100%.
    This is the equivalent of saying "no one wants to see (insert your body type of choice or body insecurity of choice here) shaking." It's a put down.

    Quote Originally Posted by HOOKEDNOVICE View Post
    As women we need to just get over ourselves and be thankful we even have a functioning body and two legs to stand on and dance (even if the two legs are knock kneed, bowllegged, lumpy, shapy, skinny, chicken legs, spider veiny, cellulite-y, muscled, flabby, bony, or WHATEVER)..l;,
    ...and this is something I also can get behind 100%. Health and beauty come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes.
    Encouraging health and encouraging feelings of self worth related to beauty are not mutually exclusive. I think it's detrimental to individuals and society when they are.


  26. #26
    Master BHUZzer Souzan's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Could it be that they are simply insecure about talking about any body shape? A couple of years ago I paid for a month worth of belly dance classes for my sister and niece for Christmas. They lasted two weeks because the teacher's mentioning breasts, butt and belly in her description of movements made my sister feel uncomfortable. It wouldn't have bothered me but my sister saw it as confirmation of her belief that belly dance was sexual. Not that this could be an issue with your students, but you might have women in your class who are dealing with some body issues to begin with. Closet anorexic or concerned with weight gain or with some deep seated issues we could only guess at. Or if they are "fluffier" ladies they might view your comments as somehow disingenuous as you are thinner. Not that they are, but as a "fluffy lady" myself I can tell you that body shape and weight comments relating to the dance can be very painful even if they weren't meant to be.

    Perhaps they don't realize who fortunate they are to have you as an instructor telling them that jiggle is beautiful and that womanly curves are gorgeous in this dance form. So much better than being told that you are too heavy to properly see isolations or that no one wants to see a fat woman dancing to a taqsim.

    Souzan


  27. #27
    Advanced BHUZzer da Sage's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by rakgirl View Post
    So i've noticed that some of my students seem kind of offended by some of my cyomments. I say things like "Yay that's good I see booties shaking," or "Let your belly go I wanna see everything giggling," or "The dance looks different on everyone depending on their size, shape, build, and individual expression," or "jelly is good, booty is good, belly is good, let's leave ouside all the negativity they tell us about our bodies," or "Having something to shake is good in this dance, no one wants to see a six pack shaking or a muscle butt."
    I'm working on precision and control, and it would frustrate me to have a teacher imply that I just need to "shake it". I also hate it when people call dancing "wiggling". By bringing up the negativity of the outside world, you are reinforcing it in a way.


  28. #28
    Established BHUZzer yaalini's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Quote Originally Posted by da Sage View Post
    I'm working on precision and control, and it would frustrate me to have a teacher imply that I just need to "shake it".
    But you can't master precision and control without knowing what it is like to be "out of control" first, right? I think that's the problem she is having, the students refuse to let themselves go, and they are hampering themselves in the process.

    I admit it, I don't care to let go fully either, in dance or singing. Much more so in singing though, to the consternation of my voice teacher! ..l;,


  29. #29
    Established BHUZzer CFerhat's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    In thinking about this post, I realized that the language I use in class, especially with new students, tends to be more formal. My classes are small, I give one-on-one, hands-on correction from day one, so a bit of formality in the language lessens the intensity of the experience a bit. The students may be feeling out of water and undignified in their first efforts, so I talk about abs instead of belly, glutes instead of booty, shimmies instead of jiggling, etc. I don't really talk about bodily bits and pieces and their goodness at all.

    As a student, I think if I had had a teacher who communicated body acceptance messages in class, it would have made me uncomfortable - I would have assumed that the teacher looked us over and decided that there was body acceptance work to be done.

    I agree with the above posters that simply showing various-sized professional dancers will say what needs to be said most eloquently.

    Christine


  30. #30
    Official BHUZzer wayauwohali's Avatar
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    Re: Students and Weight Issues

    Maybe the most productive thing would be to show the same move on different professionals' body types. Then you can point out things like, "See how this move looks smoother and bigger because of the size of her hips." And don't just concentrate on weight-related, maybe more body type oriented.


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