Yes, I’m Plus Size and Yes, I Can Move (#PSPfit Challenge: Day One)

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It was a Monday afternoon and I was taking a dance class at one of my favorite studios in midtown. The routine we were learning was hard, but my body was learning the movements well enough. The whole reason I moved to NYC from California is to pursue my dream of performing/doing theater, so taking dance classes weekly is a great way for me to workout and stay prepared for anything that an audition would throw my way.

So, there I was in jazz, level 4. Learning the routine and feeling strong. “C’mon guys, sell it to meeee!” the instructor screamed before hitting play on the stereo. “FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT!” he cried out, and we hit the routine. At this point we were drilling the dance over and over, which gave us all a chance to stop thinking about the steps, let go and just dance… perform even. I started to have fun with the choreography and give the routine everything that I had.

“Wait a minute,” the instructor called out as he paused the music. “Sorry– what’s your name?” he said pointing at me.

“CeCe,” I replied.

“CeCe, I like what you’re doing with those first few eight counts… can you do it again for the class?” he asked, beckoning me to the center of the floor. “Um, sure…” I said. My heart was beating fast, but I came to the middle of the dance floor while the class stepped aside to watch.

For those of you who didn’t grow up performing, being called out in class to show the other students “how its done” is a big deal. Its something that is only asked of the strongest dancers in class and for me, it was a huge deal because so matter how good I had been in previous classes, my weight had always kept me from being considered the strongest (I have more stories on that, but I’ll save them for another day).

At a young age, I had to accept that teachers would pretty much ignore me as a viable option for their stand out student because of my size, I never let that stop me from training, but every once in a while, I’d feel like everything I was doing was pointless. But now, here was a moment where my abilities as a dancer were being validated. I tried to play it cool and act like it was no big deal, but inside I was doing cartwheels!

The dance instructor pushed play and I began to do the choreography. I danced with every part of myself and when I was done, the class erupted into applause as is customary in a moment like that. Then the instructor walked to the middle of the dance floor, “thanks, CeCe!” he said giving me a nod, then he turned to the rest of the class and said “now, if this big girl can work my routine… I KNOW the rest of you can put in a little more effort!” and with that he started the music over again.

It felt as if he had punched me in the stomach. Oddly enough, I could tell that the dance instructor didn’t say what he said with malice. He actually pulled me to the side later, to tell me how much he loved having me in class, how talented he thought I was, etc.. But it didn’t change how hurtful that moment was.

Its frustrating that a PSP who isn’t bedridden is treated like some sort of magical elephant. I’m constantly approached by people at the gym who compliment me on how well I move, how light on my feet I am and how much stamina I have. 99% of the time, I think they’re trying to be encouraging and I try not to take offense, but I’ve always been this way and as I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, I am not the only Plus Size Princess who can do this stuff.

(That’s a big reason why I’m excited about Cardio & Curvy Conversations on Saturday. I think it will be nice to get a room full of Plus Size Princesses together who aren’t afraid to break a sweat.)

Anyway, as we begin out Plus Size Princess Fitness Challenge, I just want to mention that people might say awkward things to us as we become more adventurous in our fitness. Please don’t let that hold you back from taking a new class or trying a new machine at the gym. We shouldn’t be embarrassed that we’re active PSPs… that’s something to be proud of!

For more information on the Plus Size Princess Fitness Challenge, click here.

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  • http://twitter.com/ItsMeDarleneRae IAmNotYourGuru

    Great post. Sometimes even close friends don’t realize you may not want a medal for doing something you already know you can do. Keep killin’ it, Cece!

  • Rebecca

    One of the most hurtful things ever said to me was when I got down to a size 16 from a 22 (putting myself in the hospital in the process, but that;’s another story) and the guy I had the hots for said “Keep up the good work”. I know they are trying to be motivating to others, but I am so much more than my dress size.

    • thebiggirlblog

      Oh Rebecca… so true that words can send us spiraling in the wrong directions. You’re right, we’re much more. xoxo

    • http://www.facebook.com/karen.walcott.54 Karen Walcott

      I can’t stand that expression. My mother (who’s been ragging me about my weight since I was 8 ) always says that to me when I have lost weight. It always feels like she is saying, “keep it up because you have so much to lose and your life won’t be right until you’re thin.” It irritates me every time.

  • Jeka of LaMaisonDeux.com

    You have spoken the world of every person who has had or has an insecurity. I see it every single. I’ve seen and heard it all but my love, don’t let the negative overcome the positive. YOU were the best dancer in the class, not because youre big but because YOURE A DANCER and thats something to be unmodestly proud of. Prevail against all odds!

    Xo,
    Jeka
    LaMaisonDeux.com
    @LaMaisonDeux

  • http://blog.dianarajchel.com Diana Rajchel

    I’ve been super lucky that in bellydance, lots of larger women came long before me. Most of the time the only really stupid stuff came out of the mouths of the smaller women in my class – and I always responded with, “isn’t it great that all I have to do is stand here to challenge your assumptions?” The celebratory take usually confused the loudmouths into silence.

  • http://sweet-heart.net/ Michele

    I’m sure in his oblivious little mind, he thought he was paying you some kind of compliment. =

  • Elle

    Eff that guy.

  • Michelle

    It kills me how one little comment can really have such a lasting effect. A few years ago, I was dancing with a guy for hours and he needed to sit down because he was tired but I was still fine and he said, “I can’t believe you’re not tired even though you’re not as fit as me.” FYI he never exercised at all. By fit he just meant that I was big and he wasn’t.

    • thebiggirlblog

      When will people realize that fitness comes in all sizes? augh!

  • Sugar Elephant

    Magical Elephant.

    My ex once called me a ‘fine elephant’ by accident, not realizing what he was saying. I never let him live it down. Now I wear that with a badge of honor.

    I’ll be a fine elephant. I’ll be a magical elephant. Because at the end of the day, none of ya’ll matter. People troll you in life and on the internet, sometimes not even realizing they’re doing it. Gotta put the blinders on and remember that in the big picture, they’re not even a line.

    I know you know that, dear CeCe. I’m just puttin’ it out there.

    • thebiggirlblog

      Thanks Miss! xoxo

  • http://www.facebook.com/yolanda.berry.12 Yolanda Berry

    I deal with the same thing all the time, especially in yoga class. Instructors feel the need to comment on my flexibility, because I shouldn’t be able to bend that way. Yet, they rarely come over to adjust my alignment like they do with the skinny students. I also happen to pole dance. Pole dancers are supposed to be tiny and slim, well, I’m 5’10″ and 300 pounds. Yet, I’ve been a dancer all my life and I rock that pole with the best of them. No, I may not be able to hang upside down, but I can do a lot of cool moves, and I’m a beautiful dancer. Our semi-annual showcase is on Sunday and I’m nervous as all get out. Even though my instructor is plus-sized, and the owner and most students are wonderfully supportive, there are those that aren’t, and I see the looks. Putting myself out there up on stage is huge for me, but I’m doing it, because our studio’s message is that Pole Dance is for EveryBODY.

    • thebiggirlblog

      Ummm are you going to teach me how to pole dance? :-D

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  • Dee

    Omg! I’ve been thinking about this all weekend. I went for a hike this past weekend and had to shimmy over some rocks at different points. I was more frightened of falling than not being able to move my body or being tired. At least 3 people stopped to comment on how well I was doing and to “keep up the good work”. This happens every time I doing something physical. I know they think they’re being supportive, but it really annoys me.