Do you have to be skinny to belly dance?

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I get asked on a regular basis, ‘Are there any skinny girls?’ And I don’t know if I even know if I have to be skinny to belly dance.’ I think I’m doing okay with what I’m doing. I don’t get to decide how others look or how I should have my body, so I let their body be who it is. But I’m a strong woman because not everyone can be me.

Is it hard growing a hair out as a girl?

I’ve been getting questions on my weight since I was about 10 — I’ve never felt that way before. At first it was just a weird part of my life. I was always in a school dress, but I got into a whole new world where I actually got to be in a dress, so I was really nervous about it. I didn’t know if I was going to even get to be in it. But it really felt good, it really felt natural — the hair on my head was completely natural and it was my own hair. I got asked what I did for a living, but I wasn’t too sure about that. And they were always asking about my weight and I was really scared. I don’t know anyone in this town that’s not really into weight loss. It’s normal to be interested in body image because it’s something you go through every day, and at the end of the day if you’re going to be a successful girl in that town you need to be thin so everyone knows you’re strong — you have your own style you can wear, you have your own set of skills, you’re someone everyone can count on. And I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do, to be that, but my weight isn’t really my issue.

What do you think it feels like when you’re in the gym?

There’s a weirdness and a energy, like a lot of my old body was not my first one. A lot of these people really think that, so it’s a strange environment when you go into it. I think with that physicality comes an energy and a challenge, and I have to be like, “This is me! This is what I do! If this isn’t fun for you, then you’re a bad person.”

Do you feel confident in what you’re doing there?

Yeah, definitely! Like, I really love it. It’s like a job. You’re always on task and you’re always looking