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.