My current dance instructor always scolds me because I make my movement too restricted. She’s constantly forcing me to make my legs longer, open up and release my hips, extend the space between my ribs, stretch tall from the pointe of my toes to the top of my head.
Everything she tells me feels counterintuitive to the way I’ve learned to move through the world. To take up less space, to always lose more weight, or hide the pounds I can’t lose. The greatest magic trick we know for our body is how to make it disappear. Eat less or throw up what you ate. Try all the latest diet craze and make it slumber party talk with your girls. Don’t go out to parties, and if you do, don’t wear bright colors, form fitting outfits, and be sure to not take pictures. The challenge is always, how little of you can be allowed to exist?
We’ve mastered the art of shrinking ourselves, of disappearing. Then I walk into my dance class and I have to throw it all out the door. Expand! release! stretch! go wider! run farther! take more room On the stage! And it’s weird, and vulnerable, but oh so empowering.
What does it look like for you to unapologetically take up more space? Not even in defiance or anger, but with awe for your whole body how ever it is right now. To rediscover its magic not based on your ability to make it disappear, but the true magic in it. The carefully orchestrated rhythm of breath and heartbeat, the reflexes that take your hand off a fire in a nanosecond before your brain even processes what happened, the way your skin closes wounds and has scars like roadmaps to a life well lived.
There’s too much magic in you for you to shrink down so much. Expand! Stretch! Live!
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.