Lucinda used to be a keen dancer from the age of five years old. After an unplanned break, she rediscovered her love for dance and shares how it helped her feel empowered and confident with her body.
As a female twenty-something, body confidence is a hot topic. It's something that I often struggle with along with the majority of the population. Of course, it's not something that's unique to women, men are becoming increasingly affected by issues around their body confidence, let alone the growing trans community. But I write this from the only way I know how, from the perspective of a women. I'm not trying to speak on behalf of all women but, rather, to share my feelings and observations on the issue.
Our insecurities manifest in different ways regardless of what we look like or what body type we are.
As a tall, mildly active twenty-something, I am affected by ever-present insecurities of how I look; I don't need to be overweight or anorexic to have these body hang-ups. Body confidence, or a lack of, is so widespread that at times we become normalised to feeling negative about ourselves, how we look and feel. The media is often cited as a significant contributor to a lack in body confidence which I completely agree with but I think that it's very easy for us to perpetuate things. By this I mean that we're very receptive to our surroundings and I think that we can very easily let popular culture creep into our way of talking, thinking and feeling. How often do we find ourselves gossiping about the way a female celebrity doesn't look her best? How often do we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to fit into that smaller sized dress?
Why can't we just be? This is all the more heightened for my friends who are currently in wedding-planning mode, who are trying to challenge social pressures of how they should look on their big day. Needless to say, I'm immensely proud of how they're embracing their bodies and focusing on how they feel rather than look. This will, in turn, enhance how they look: happy and healthy on this very special occasion.
Without thinking about it at the time, I owe a lot to my younger years spent training in dance.
Attending ballet and tap classes from the age of five in the local village hall was a great creative outlet for me. I made friends, had fun and learnt to move in new and exciting ways. Wearing a pink Lycra leotard was a little daunting because you naturally compared your body to others but we were in it together and enjoying ourselves so, more than anything, I felt empowered.
With your body as an instrument, you learn to take care of it; to give it the right amount of fuel, to rest when needed. More than that, you learn about discipline, timing, posture, alignment; all of which can be applied outside the studio too. These aspects of dancing can give you the feeling of confidence and power even when you don't feel it inside almost like you're tricking yourself into being the super sassy woman you can be.
After an unplanned three year hiatus from dancing, I returned to my first love, dancing, last year and I haven't looked back. For me, dancing is the best way to contrast an office job: realigning your curved posture from hours spent at a desk, allowing yourself to release your built up anxieties from the working day, to channel your mind to focus on something creatively stimulating - a truly feel-good technique.
As I approach my thirties, I'm starting to grow into myself and be more at peace with who I am.
I'm very aware of my weaknesses but I'm also learning about my strengths. Ultimately, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important one because you will always be here throughout your life while others will come and go.
We need to accept who we are in order to live our lives to the full: to raise our own aspirations to take on a new challenge, to know our needs and ensure that they are met, to trust our instincts so that we feel the most confident and prepared for whatever life throws at us. Body confidence is probably the biggest, most personal struggle of our lives but it is the most important one and it's worth fighting for because we're worth it!
Lucinda is a young professional with experience in the arts and charity sector. She writes about her lifelong search for her cultural identity on her blog:The Syrian Burian. As well as writing and dancing, she is a keen long distance runner and recently completed her fifth half marathon.