Growing up in the dance world hasn’t always been easy. Of course it is awesome to bond with a group of girls and watch them grow as dancers as we get older, but there is also a pressure that comes with it. Many people assume dancers have the perfect bodies. I, for one, know I am nowhere near perfect. But I can accept that. 

There is one moment I can remember from a dance competition when I was about 10. Now let me start by saying there are some pretty provocative costumes some younger girls wear (rhinestoned bras and booty shorts without tights). I can remember all of the parents from my competition team making snarky comments about how it’s inappropriate for young girls to wear costumes that show off their stomachs. They also kept saying it’s inappropriate for bigger sized people to show their stomachs too. And there I was standing next to them with a costume that had my stomach revealed. My costume was modest, connecting at the sides with a skirt that was a decent length and of course I had tights on, but I still felt the need to cover my stomach after listening to them rant. I felt like I was being judged.

Ever since that competition season every costume I wore covered my stomach, until a few weeks ago when I decided to try out for the Mizzou Golden Girls. The mandatory outfit included a sports bra or short top, booty shorts and tights. I didn’t even try out my freshman year because I wasn’t sure how I felt about that dress code. But when I got to tryouts, there were girls there of all shapes and sizes. No one’s stomach was flat and perfect either. I finally felt comfortable in my own skin and didn’t feel like I was being judged for having my stomach showing. Even though I didn’t make the team, I am so happy I went and auditioned. 

I’m not trying to bash on the parents that made me feel this way; everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just wish people were more accepting instead of putting others down. I’m also not saying I plan on walking around with my stomach exposed 24/7, but it’s just nice to finally be confident enough to not feel like I have to hide it while wearing a swim suit. 

I guess what I am getting at is to not let others’ opinions get you down. It’s your body, you can wear what you want. So do yourself a favor and look in the mirror and love what you see. And most importantly, love everyone (including yourself) for who they are!