Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons from Zumba

So who in the blogsosphere loves Zumba?

(Who actually reads this blog?)

Cricket, cricket.

Anyways, I am a sucker for Zumba. I love to move, dance, sweat, swing my hips, burn calories and have fun. Luckily, all words and phrases associated with Zumba!

Zumba, in case you're wondering, is an international dance class phenomenom that began a few years ago using South American beats and dance moves combined with super-catchy songs that you can't help but tap your foot to. It's billed as a "fitness party," with lots of haters of exercise in general joining the Zumba fan club.
And I love it!

My usual instructor of Zumba is perky, skiiiiiinny, moves like she was born in a dance studio and never tires. She's easy to love and hate simultaneously for her perfect body and dance moves. I constantly compare myself to her (not on purpose, I swear it just happens), and sometimes I feel like I'll NEVER be as sexy as her not matter how hard I try. She's so dang cute! She's so perky! She's so perfect! She could be a pro on Dancing with the Stars!

Cue the guest instructor.

A few weeks ago, Shannon invited another instructor (actually I have no idea who she is; maybe she wasn't an instructor at all) to come lead a song with her. This girl was probably 5 years older and at least 50 pounds heavier than me. She had beautiful skin and hair and as she waltzed to the stage, I couldn't help but notice a certain effortlessness in the way she moved.

Shannon and this other girl started dancing side by side. While Shannon hit every move textbook-perfect, right on beat, with no flaws noticeable, Other Dancer wasn't quite as "perfect." She was doing everything correctly; it just didn't look like Shannon did it.

Yet there was something in the way she moved. I couldn't stop watching her.

My whole life I've based a huge part of my self-esteem on how thin my waist is, how low I can get my weight on a scale. Yes, I've read a million magazine articles about how true beauty comes from confidence inside, how men are attracted to women who already know they're beautiful.


In my head, I know I'm thin, but I'm never satisfied. This past year, I've really learned how obsessed with body image I am. Sorry to admit it, but the first thing I check out when I meet people is their body. Are they fit? Do they exercise? And then I make a snap judgment. God and I are working on this, trust me.

But this girl. There she was on the stage, pleasingly plump and moving like she was made to dance. Because she was! I can't explain it, but there was a womanliness, a sexiness that said "I don't care how thin this girl next to me is, my man at home loves me and my curves and I've got something to share with the world through my dancing." Now remember, she was not fat at all -- just more than the average perky perfect dance instructor.

She was so dang beautiful when she moved -- something I never thought possible for someone weighing that much more than me (I've always considered my weight on the fringe. Anything above me at my height needs to diet, anyone below me = skinny and beautiful. See how messed up my thinking was/is?)

So my lesson from Zumba for the year: physical fitness is super-important, yes, but physical beauty actually starts from within. Duh. Just because you are thin doesn't make you beautiful, and just because you weigh more than a model doesn't make you unattractive.

Thanks, Dancer Girl.