Overcoming Whispered Bullying

I awoke at 4am today, tummy grumbling, heart heavy, and a mind full of dreams where I was fending off beautiful and dangerous butterfly winged insects from biting me. Those dreams are classic symbols of suffering from minor stress — pesky little things bothering me, yet I managed to keep them from biting me, which I take to mean I will bounce back from these distractions. There is no greater killer of passion than worries over money, health, and food. Anytime I am unsure I will be able to make it through one week, I lose motivation to do anything. Well, let’s just say I am great at starting things, yet then as the pressure from going without these mundane things I depend on to survive builds, the steam putters out, I don’t move around as much, and my desire is lost. How did I lose it this week? Well, it wasn’t just over being broke ass, oh, no, not at first. My pesky insects of a problem first came at me in the form of a group of young women laughing at me because I am a belly dancing fat woman.

For over a month I had been soaring confidently on this joyful high over belly dancing.  I have been doing well, too.  Building up my repertoire of moves, doing my best to follow my dance troupe’s choreography, and really happy to be making new friends, yet something had to set me back a little to test my strength.  Only a little something.  I know I will bounce back from it, but for now I have to bend in order for it not to break me like it has done me in my past.  All the ladies in the troupe have been very supportive.  The practice dance hall had become like a second home to me, a safe place for me to be myself, to move as I pleased, and not be embarrassed of making mistakes.  Mistakes are meant to be made in the process of learning the dance.  Being corrected and given criticism is essential to perfecting performance.  I enjoy the way my body has become more graceful and elegant.  Even while still at an ample size, I can hold myself with dignity, poise, and class, as if my fat were really made of fluff, and my belly nothing but a pillow.

When I dance, I forget I am fat.  As I move, I feel as if I have already lost my weight.  I do not lose my breath.  My heart beats faster, I smile more, and feel as if I have fallen in love with myself.  I watch how I move in the mirror, becoming more conscious of each step and each move I make.  I become oblivious to anyone else in the room.  Unlike being in a public gym, I am at peace in the little university practice room where I meet with my fellow dancers every Wednesday night.

Eventually some young women who use that room more regularly had to take notice that I was fat and they could not get over it.  They did not point at me and call me names, nor did they follow me around and harass me for being different.  They did something that irks and hurts me more than the obvious kind of bullying:  they whispered harshly about me with their attitude, their eyes mocked me, they were bursting with  laughter whenever I turned my back, they kept staring at me and then turning away when I looked back at them, their body language was all school-girl-giggles and pointing fingers.  But, on top of it all, was their false politeness, the way they pursed their lips to hold back how amused they were as they looked at me and addressed me, pretending to be respectful.  I gave them only one excuse — they did not know me — and that was all.  I did not show them any emotional weakness, but as soon as I left the practice room early to let them do their exercise routines, the peels and squeals of ridicule were finally released.

I did not cry about it for days.  I continued to practice at home, but my energy drained.  I did not want to step outside or go anywhere public.  I did a series of nude drawings of myself, trying to really confront my body head-on and not hide from my big belly.  But I could not block out what one of those college cheerleader girls said on my way out the door: “She looks like she’s pregnant!”  It made me feel like destroying something.  Well, I didn’t destroy anything.  However the defeated feeling I was left with drained me of joy and I hid in my home, suspending even the writing I had planned to do on this blog.

I can be brave at times, intimidating sometimes, but I’m an old softy at heart.  A man can reject me, but when I am put down by other women, it tends to hurt my confidence more.  I think this is because I tend to feel safer when I am with other women.  Regardless of age, and even though my friendships with women are not without drama, most women and girls warm up to me.  I also can easily make friends with men, but do not trust them as easily when they become affectionate.  With women I know that when they hug me and tell me that they love me, I can believe that they mean it, but men?  I need more time to believe that they are sincere.  I want to believe there are good men out there, yet I do not feel as safe emotionally with men.  I have had a lot of bad experiences with men.  I have been sexually assaulted, hit, cheated on, betrayed.  It is easier for me to expect men to ridicule me, and they usually do so, especially if I step inside a bar, or any social place, if I go alone.  So when women make fun of me and bully me, it feels more unexpected.  It just takes the wind out of me.  I expect women to like me more.  I should not be so sexist in regards to this matter, because there are no exceptions, all people have it within their nature to ridicule those who are different, or worse still like to put down other people who have it bad to make themselves feel more superior.

It would be different, I believe, if I could challenge such idiots to a duel of some sort to defend my honor, but, despite the ridiculous romantic side of me who wants to avenge herself in some slap-happy swashbuckling way, that would be just as idiotic of me.  Why should I have to prove anything to those girls too ignorant to see how beautiful I have become while dancing free and joyfully?  I have not felt so good in months!  And why should I let them spoil my good time?

During the days I took to mope about this, I missed out on a few public belly dancing events in town.  I became more frustrated with my weight loss process.  I cannot seem to manage to get past losing 20 pounds.  I feel like I am not trying hard enough.  Perhaps I need to stop giving myself such a hard time and let go of what those girls said.  In the end, it is not important.  It did not tarnish my honor or ruin my grace.  Months from now I will be fully decked out in silver coins and dancing with a wicked-looking scimitar sword.  I will be more awesome than they ever will be!

It is now after 5am and sleep is starting to pull me under my blankets again.  I am beginning to cheer myself up once more.  There is so much I want to do, so much I have to live for, and so much joy I want to share with you, yet this once I had to vent about this stupid, bothersome thing that has temporarily held me back from enjoying something I love.

Til then, I have to keep my mind on the prize, treat my body well, go back to eating healthy, and remind myself there are more important people — people who really love me and want to see me happy — who are on my side, cheering for me.

I just wish they were here right now.  I will think of them while I get back to sleep…  Let’s get back to dreams not filled with bugs, shall we?


3 thoughts on “Overcoming Whispered Bullying

  1. I know how difficult it can be to be considered different and bullied because of it – how it’s sometimes a minute-to-minute challenge to remain strong in the face of ignorance or of mindless derision. And I applaud you for having gone through this – the thoughtlessness of these girls – and for being able to process it the way you have. You’ve obviously found such joy and freedom in dancing. I’m glad the narrow views of a few small people will not get in the way of you finding your bliss! You’ve got me imagining you in your queenly grace practicing your dancing… LOVE IT!

    1. YES! Thank you, very much! I plan on writing some more about the belly dancing. It is going to take me a little while longer to do that.

      Yet it still surprises me how the ignorant bullying of younger women can still hurt me! It still reminds me that I am a girl inside. The difference now is I am working hard to love myself. Like the Whitney Houston (may she rest in peace) goes: it is “the greatest love of all”

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