Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Delusions of American Women: Belly Dancing For All

Belly dancing is pretty awesome. If you attend a dance festival or cornucopia of dance show, sometimes you will see a belly dancing segment. Like Flamenco dancing, when the dancer is a well skilled practitioner of the art, it is beautiful and wonderful to witness. Belly dancing has a long history with origins in the Middle East before modern Islam destroyed it. My friends who served overseas in the Middle East did not discuss belly dancing bars so Muhammed mus not approve. It made its way to America with the Chicago World's Fair in the late 19th century. There is one problem with belly dancing now in America. The delusional ladies of America have taken to belly dancing, as it has been coopted by overweight white women.

There is truth to the idea that belly dancing is a natural pair for "curvy" women, but this is curvy in men's idea of curvy, not feminist curvy. The traditional .70 waist to hips ratio or hourglass look suits belly dancing well. When a women has hips, a waist and breasts, the movements, shakes and jiggles of belly dancing can be awesome to watch and yes, sexually enticing. The breasts are optional in belly dancing due to focus being on the waist and hips. Most, if not all, heterosexual men could envision a fantasy of a Mediterranean looking woman performing such a dance only for them. It is part of why the dance lasted through the ages. Men are drawn to the curves and markers of fertility on women. Belly dancing costumes stress those curves with skirts that cling to the hips and tops that are usually decorated with jewels or pearls. Stomachs are bare to allow for the undulating waist movements that are involved in "belly" dancing. It is a showcase for the female form.

It is now an empowering hobby for 21st century white women. The recent pictures I have seen of belly dancing studios or classes are full of white women. Even wikipedia's page has such a photo in the contemporary section of the article. It hits all of their buttons White women love education (smart signal), learning about different cultures (outgroup acceptance signal) and showing off their bodies (vanity). The problem with 21st century America is that many of these Western belly dancers do not have hot bodies. They then throw out the statement that belly dancing is designed for curvy women. Like it is better to have some meat on the dancer's bones. That is true, as belly dancing by a stick figure would probably look odd, but belly dancing was not intended to be performed by tubbies. It's a showcase for women who embody that fertile look, not a "sowcase" for fatties. You are delusional if you think this is authentic. This is a trendy dabbling by comfortable middle and upper-middle class women who want to show off. If it is a narcissistic play for validation and a self esteem boost, just stare in the mirror for twenty minutes with a roaring applause soundtrack and affirmations from random voices. Spare us the burden. Enough is enough, knock it off, no one cares.

For photographic evidence, let us compare belly dancing through the decades.

1896: Little Egypt - Slender


1910: Slender



1920: Slender

1930: Slender with hips
Today: Guts
Today: "Prenatal Belly Dancing"
Today: It takes GUTS to belly dance
 
There are some gorgeous women who belly dance today as any Google Image search can find them. Some are true dancers and artists. The vast majority of women rocking the belly dancing classes for their "2 Minute Multicultural Sampling" are not gorgeous. Enjoy the decline.




17 comments:

sunshinemary said...

I guess I could kind of see chubby ladies doing this in a private dance class for a fun work out. No problem - maybe they'll lose some weight. But good lawd, keep it private, ladies! I don't get the chubby women in the ornate costumes...are they actually performing in front of people? Yuck.

Son of Brock Landers said...

I found a performance pic that was terrible but decided to use the ones with more women in the picture for a wider selection of empowered ladies.

peterike said...

I have never found belly dancing to be erotic or enticing. It always seemed pretty damn stupid and primitive to me, and I generally don't find Middle Eastern types attractive (to say nothing of the ghastly music). They always seem five minutes away from bursting out in wads of hair, and they have the faces of dullards.

Now a beautiful Austrian girl from 1905 doing a waltz - that's loveliness.

That said, I totally agree with the rest about delusional American women.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just...wow. Your entire blog post WREAKS of chauvinism and misogyny. First of all, speaking as a professional bellydancer no woman needs YOUR permission or approval to bellydance. Second, you are NOT qualified to speak about what is "authentic", as your comments demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge on the actual origins of the MANY styles of bellydance. Many of those Victorian-era photos that you included in your post are not of actual bellydancers, just models posing, and those costumes are not authentic to Middle Eastern roots anyway. Egyptian dancers such as Badia Masabni popularized the two-piece bedlah that you refer to as "traditional" as a way to make their shows appeal to Westerners living in Egypt at the time.

You know nothing, and none of our dancers need nor want your "validation".

Son of Brock Landers said...

Is this a fake comment? "Wow just wow" - You must be easily amazed. Did you steal the righteous indignation from Jezebel and looked for a stock starter and settled on wow just wow? Grow up and learn that not everyone will kiss your ass. It's not ignorance, chauvinism or misogyny, it's clear observations of the world around us. You'd be amazed at the dance professional, teacher and scholar that lives in my house. Look at what belly dance has become. There are great dancers out there and there are tubby amateurs looking for validation. Your probably white too so let me steal a DailyKos phrase and take offense for the Arabs out there that dislike the "cultural appropriation" of their culture by white middle class American women.

F of M Finance Community said...

Son, I agree 100% with the pro dancer for whom you seem to have so much disdain. As a fellow belly/cultural dancer, of Middle Eastern heritage, who is not stick thin, I also found your comments ignorant and disgusting. And I agree, none of us cares what you or others like you think of our bodies. If you don't want to watch, go away. Belly dancing was and still is an art form performed by women, often FOR other women, particularly in the Middle East. It was never meant as some sort of sexual fertility rite that you seem to be describing. You should stick to making comment on things you have some clue about. Double wow...

Son of Brock Landers said...

It's like the righteous indignation blinds them from seeing that fat white women in america are using belly dancing a the latest fad to engage in narcissism.

beta_plus said...

When I was in Istanbul Airport, they showed videos of Turkish Belly Dancers who were slender and hot. I was surprised by what an enjoyable tease that was, since the only belly dancing I had seen before was from Egyptian and American land whales, where I was usually trying politely not to gag.

Egyptian women tend to be unattractive and heavy. While not American fat, they're still fat.

Kristophr said...

Person hiding behind the F of Finance student blog:

I find your assertion that belly dance has no sexual connotations, and is merely a form of female self expression, to be hilarious.

Dance originally had two purposes: mating ritual, or war display. Everything since then was derivative.

I don't think belly dancing is quite as artistically abstracted as ballet quite yet.

Anonymous said...

Your post is pretty funny, and in part, I agree with you. But you don't know your history. And that's not all. Belly dancing is not "designed for curvy women" as is often thrown around by heavy women in America. This is where I agree with you. It's really for anyone, and usually women who aren't obsessed with weight in the Western sense tend to have some natural body fat, but they are still not heavy. Where you go wrong is the assertion that belly dancing has been around because men like it and that it's a fertility dance. This is not true. Whatever the sexual implications now or historically, belly dancing was done among women for one another, not for men. Also, I've heard Arabic women lament the appropriation of their cultural practice by white women, but this is another issue. So my question is, why would you be so deliberate in your 1)dislike (dare I say it, hate) of heavy women who belly dance, and 2) your overall objectification of women? There's no reason for you to get your boxers in a knot. Just let people be and live your life. We (this means you too) all have our delusions about ourselves (many of yours are clearly depicted in your blog post itself). So just chill...and get your facts right next time.

Aquarius Moon said...

An opportunity to fling back a phrase which overweight exhibitionists like to use - if you don't like what he wrote, don't read. It's his blog and he has his preferences.

Just an average woman said...

So what, everybody's fat in America today, men included. Americans did not used to be fat, now they are. These are just average women are having fun. And belly dance evolved from traditional Middle Eastern folk dance. The community got together, the men played the drums and the women danced in fully covered clothing, with a sash around the waist, otherwise totally modest. The older women went first, to show the younger women how it was done. The "belly dance costume" as we know it was invented by Hollywood in the early 20th century, based on the fantasies of the French impressionists. American strip tease was highly influenced by the performance of belly dance at the 1893 Chicago world's fair, and that's what brought it to America. American belly dance is a contemporary art form that continues to evolve, and it's fun for women, like aerobics classes, etc. The writer of this article just seems sort of mean and angry, as if he's been told off by a feminist or two, and he's getting back at them.

lovecats@post.com said...

Yes,prenatal belly dance.Women have been doing those pelvic undulations and hip circles to relieve labor pain for millennia!I have to agree with the above commenter,you come across as a chauvinist with low self-esteem who got butt hurt by a confident lady you perceived as "feminist!",because,quite frankly,no healthy individual with with a shred of self-esteem and their own interests would feel compelled to spew such verbal diarrhea with chunks of ignorance that you just did.Counseling,anger management,finding one thing to be grateful about each day, pursuing your own interests,and getting past your delusion that the recreational activities of others are centered around you are the stepping stones to becoming a decent human being.Good Luck!

Heather Leonard said...

I'd just like to point out that bellydance is an amazing form of aerobic exercise and ab conditioning. You should be applauding these ladies for being proactive about their fitness, not condemning them just because they don't fit your preconceived notion of the "perfect" body. I don't expect you to know this because you're obviously ignorant on this subject, but bellydance welcomes all shapes and sizes. A lot of those larger ladies start taking bellydancing because it's not intimidating. They'd rather go to a studio where they're surrounded by beautiful women of all body types than a gym where they're possibly surrounded by women who are already in great shape. There is A LOT of size acceptance and encouragement in the belldance community...instead of judging and negativity, like you promote.

As for the prenatal classes...again, I don't expect you to understand because you've willfully chosen to remain ignorant on this subject, but bellydance is a wonderful form of exercise for pregnant women. Besides helping a woman keep in shape and stay healthy throughout her pregnancy, bellydance moves are gentle on the joints, which is awesome because pregnancy can put a lot of stress on a woman's joints. It keeps the hip ligaments limber and that helps her body when it comes time to give birth and push out a baby. Culturally, bellydance is thought to have its origins in birth and labor, so there's a beautiful connection there.

In the future, I highly recommend you educate yourself before you pass judgement on a subject which you obviously know nothing about. To fail to do so only makes you appear ignorant and your arguments shallow and easily dismissed.

Brian Dunbar said...

"Americans did not used to be fat, now they are."

William Howard Taft and Grover Cleveland want to have a word with you. Taft will be along as soon as he gets unstuck from his bathtub.

Ohyouknow said...

The manosphere, everyone. Claiming to understand the origins of dance in an extremely myopic, twisted- masculine perception (sex and war). Let's look at yoga. In yoga tradition, a practitioner maintains a practice between mind, body and spirit, since the psyche and movement has an innate connection. No war or sex involved. IF ONLY the manosphere could remember on occasion that People don't have to be distilled down to please the man, make me a sandwich, look fertile or disappear, womanhood. Belly dance is not a dance of fertility. It is the dance of femininity.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there are way too many obese women in belly dancing that try and perform in public. While I admire their guts, they do not have the moves or lungs to really dance. They just float on stage waving their arms. I am not being mean or disrespectful, just from what I have observed in performances. When a woman of average weight, meaning no muffin top, but has just a little bit of extra weight to her (15 lbs or so) they seem to effortlessly glide on stage and perform complex belly moves. I have yet to see this from very overweight performers.
Apparently the belly community accepts very overweight women, but I have yet to see fat ballet, tango, flamingo, tap dancers. Also no fat women are seen ice skating in shows, or in gymnastics? Those would be good sports to participate in. Why are there no fat women in these sports?