I’m a dancer. Well, I used to be a dancer. I was a dance team girl in high school and college, loved clubbing and taught dance for a number of years. For more than a decade, though, dancing has been relegated to an annual Wild Night Out With The Girls and dance parties in the living room with my husband and three kids. My dancer’s body and the self-confidence that came with it were left in the past, in the time before pregnancies, c-sections and weight gain.
A couple years ago, I grabbed my laptop and glass of wine and headed to the bathroom. I wanted to listen to music and play around online. Alone. No kids, no husband. I’m not the only one who locks herself in the bathroom to get a moment’s peace, right?
After a while I found myself at the end of the internet (I hate when that happens) and a particularly hot song on my playlist was cranking, so I started dancing. I turned off the bathroom light, leaving only the laptop screen to illuminate the room. Thanks to the wine, no eyeglasses and the “mood lighting,” my image in the mirror over the sink was a little blurred. I was surprised to realize that I looked good – hot, even. Sexy? Sexy!
As I danced, I pulled, tucked and twisted my oversized t-shirt so that it was tight around my frame, really showing off my curves. I could just imagine Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear telling me how much better I looked by wearing clothes that fit instead of clothes meant to hide my body. It turns out they’re right! Why had I been hiding my cute self for so many years? Probably because I didn’t see myself as “cute” anymore.
I’d like to say that after one night spent feeling sexy in the bathroom, my self-image was transformed, that I saw my old dancer self again. That didn’t happen, but I did have more dance parties, all by myself. A lot of dance parties, in fact. Sometimes I have them in the living room and sometimes in the bathroom, but the ones I love the most are in my bedroom in front of the big mirror doors of my closet. I put on cute little dresses that I buy and never wear in public, or even skimpier things that I wear for my husband, and I dance. Maybe it’s the wine that usually accompanies the dance party, or the fitted clothing, or the fact that I’m seeing what I look like while I do something I love, something that shows off my body. Maybe it’s all those things. I see myself differently, that much I know.
These days, I like the curvier, mature me. Sure, I’d consider selling one of my kids for a tummy tuck, but even so, I’ve learned to like my shape. I feel like a woman instead of a girl and the impact that has had on my confidence is nothing compared to what it’s done for my sex life! I’ve even danced for my husband a few times when I can find enough courage.
I never imagined I would become a woman who loves her body more at its most imperfect state than when everything was tight, firm and gravity-defiant, but I did. And I do – love my body, that is. It’s still puppy love, though, so I plan to keep up the dance parties.
Ashley works in higher education administration in Chicago and likes to spend her free time (ha!) sewing, talking about social justice and adding hot celebrities to her Pinterest boards. She created the Handmade Ryan Gosling tumblr and still likes to impersonate him on Twitter. You can find her at her blog, ThirstyBabies.blogspot.com.