I LOVE to dance. Always did. When I was in my early teens I used to have dancing lessons, learning the Latin American dances of the cha-cha and the tango and the classics like the waltz and foxtrot. I got up to my second Gold Bar before I stopped. Looking back, I cannot actually pinpoint why or when I decided to end my lessons.
I started to go out to clubs when I was 16 and loved dancing with my friends. We would stay out way into the small hours, dancing until our feet hurt. We all had an active social life at the weekends for many years, but gradually, my participation on the dance floor lessened. Again, I cannot pinpoint the exact time that I stopped, around my mid twenties I think, but this time I do know why; I got scared.
The stares, the laughs; the comments, the ridicule at the fat girl dancing. It did not happen all the time but regularly enough that on each night out I started to wait for it to happen.
The fear of other people's ridicule grew greater than my love to dance.
I stopped dancing and instead, I was the one stood on the sidelines, watching my friends happily dancing away. Occasionally, fueled by enough alcohol and the combination of a brilliant song, I would join them; only for the fear to return and I would be back to standing at the side.
I do not want to be this way. I have improved every aspect of my life through my growing confidence; yet my ability to go on to a dance floor still eludes me.
The "dancing man" was recently in the headlines. Ridiculed on Reddit for daring to dance whilst being fat (typical for the cretins on Reddit) his story went viral and only a couple of weeks ago he was thrown a party with thousands of people in attendance and with Moby as the DJ. He has since been on numerous TV shows and appeared at a LA Dodgers game.
Would this happen to a woman? It is perhaps a controversial question but somehow, I doubt it. I have been fat shamed by many a fat man who does not seem to see the irony in this. For some reason, it is more "wrong" for a woman to be fat than a man, in society's view in any case.
That said, the experiences of the dancing man warmed my heart. It gave me courage that not all people in this world are horrible people, That, with my new found confidence, it may be safe to once again go back onto the dance floor.
That is my mission to myself this summer. Dance. Without a care of who is watching.