When I was nine years old, my dream was to be a ballerina. I practiced all of the time. I read every book on ballet I could get my hands on and worshipped older dancers. I was in love with Micheal Baryshnikov and I know he was in love with me. I knew some day I would glide into his arms and be lifted into the lights of the New York City ballet. I danced until my toes bled, and then kept dancing. I was nine years old. One day was at the barre, working on a tandu, my teacher came up to me, hit me in the butt and said,”this is a problem. You need to lose weight.” I started my first diet when I was nine years old.
By the time I was 14 I had tried every diet under the sun. I had posters of “beautiful women” in my closet. I was playing tennis, not very well, and my coach told me if I wanted to be faster I could stand to lose a few pounds. Defeated, I went home and decided to deny myself food, until I was so hungry that I ate everything out of defiance.
When I was 16, I wanted to be an actress. I loved the stage. I trained my voice and my body to work on the stage. I was already filled with emotion and drama. One summer evening I was walking across the football field to our summer theatre. Some guys were hanging out in the back of the school and shouted, “check her out, no — and a big—“. Use your imagination. I thought I was going to die of humiliation. I got to the theatre with my body parts and wanted to disappear.
The stories of negative self talk and insecurities are plenty, but you get the point. Today at 41, I finished a ten week training at Farrell’s Etreme Body work out. It has taken 32 years to feel good about this vessel that carries my heart and soul. That’s too much time trying to contort into an image of perfection that is unreasonable. Today I am strong, healthy, and maybe even beautiful.
As the mother of daughters, my hope and prayer is that they have a different story than I. I want them to feel strong and beautiful and confident every day of their life. I don’t want them to spend 32 years of their life looking in the mirror wondering how they can shrink some things and make other things bigger. I want them to run over to anyone who makes comments about their bodies and kick the….
Ok you get my point.
Here’s to beautiful, strong, nine-year girls who love to dance. Dance sweetheart and know that you are beautiful.