At my last workplace, I was the Wellness Coordinator for the site and the last year I was there they gave me (and the other WCs for the other US sites) a pair of commemorative dumbbells. They’re very nice, bright chrome aluminum with a parabolic curve. They’re the most artsy dumbbells I own. But the funny thing is they’re only two pounds. What am I going do with 2 pounders? A minimum would be maybe 5 lbs for flyes, and otherwise 10/15 and up. But I found a use for them–they’re the great for bellyrolls.
Bellydance has a mystique and if you’re watching a really good dancer you end up thinking, “Man, how is she even doing that?” And that’s because you practice drills, separating out and individualizing the movements and the muscles, and then you integrate them all together again. But now the whole–the whole of the dance and the movements and the dancer are using all of the muscles. And so it seems fantastic and weird and beautiful and mesmerizing because it no longer consists of one note, but of many working together. Those tiny side movements may not be individually discernible in the dance, but you immediately recognize the impact of all.
For me, a challenging move is still the bellyroll. We think of our bellies as one big glob of softness (unless you’re young and hot, and then it’s one big glob of tautness). But it’s not one thing, it’s not just a glob that you either suck in or let hang. Trying to talk to individual muscles is difficult, it’s a kind of magic that you just keep trying until you connect. Like peeing–how are you telling your internal bladder muscles to hold when you’re not paying attention and let go on command? We learn this as kids. So when I was trying to connect to my belly muscles, I found that it was useful to lie on the floor and have one 2-lb weight on my lower abs and one on my upper abs. And then I practiced pushing one up while sucking the other one in. It’s difficult, it takes time. You’re calling to part of yourself, to muscles that only listen in a vague sort of way. Until you just get it, and it takes practice.
It’s interesting, both bellydance and yoga–you learn how to really sit within your body. To just be comfortable when you’re not, when you can’t be as flexible and as graceful as you would like to be. Because really, unless you’re a Victoria’s Secret model, very few women are comfortable with who there are. And even the models judge themselves when they wear the g-strings with their derrieres hanging out–and there’s thousands of pictures of their VS butts.
There’s an old joke that if a man was transformed into a woman, he would do nothing but play with his boobs all day. Yet, we have to tell women of all ages to do monthly breast exams and explicitly instruct them to touch themselves, hand to breast–no loofah, no washcloth inbetween. How sad it that? And how sad that even the word “touch” has been commandeered to always mean something sexual, because Americans have no idea how to be sensual. It’s cool now to be into food (taste), it’s always been cool to be into music (hearing) and art (sight)–but touch! Holy cow–so uncomfortable.
To add to it, besides the shade of 50% gray that separates sensual from sexual, there is the 75% shade of gray that separates sexuality from crass f***ery. Look! We don’t even have words for the distinctions of the thing. Because there is an uncomfortableness to being within your own skin as women. Are you a slut? Or a prude? Are you easy, or hard to get? But there is a middle. It’s hard as a woman to sit within the seeming contradictions of herself-yes, I like sex, and yes I have job that I’m competent and smart at, and yes, you mess with my kids I absolutely will be mama bear–all these things can exist in the same person. But we have no name for that, for balance.
Meanwhile, we forget the best things about the best men–smarts, loyalty, that quality of fierceness and protectiveness, some untamed wolf that wants to ravish you, but not total prickery. Without the ability to discern the permutations, men get unfairly thrown into two camps, the “nice” guy, the one who will father and parent your kids, but can’t make your insides clench with desire OR the jerk who is great in the bedroom but not somebody you actually want to grow old with. But people aren’t just in two camps–there is moderation and messiness, and seeing that comes from wisdom, judgement, and maturity. And if you cannot sit within the different aspects yourself, you cannot discern it in others.