I want to begin with a little story:
Several weeks ago, I was chatting with a friend/participant before Oula. She brought up this video she’d seen on social media of Amanda, a dancer who didn’t fit the stereotypical “look” for professional dancers. In the video, Amanda describes being bullied for her look and was told she’d never make it as a professional because of her bigger size. She has gone on to dance in TV and movies and is paving the way for more size inclusivity in the dance profession. My friend thought about sharing it with the larger Oula community but decided against it. When I inquired as to why, she wasn’t sure it was appropriate content. By this time, others were showing up for class and the conversation ended with me encouraging the post.
Why do I bring this up? Well, a few reasons.
First, if I were able to replay this conversation, I would have dug a little deeper to really figure out why she deemed the video as a potential issue for posting. Was it because it wasn’t Oula-specific content? Was it because Amanda has a bigger body and not everyone is okay with that? Could it be triggering? Was there concern that might elicit negative comments? Maybe it was as simple as she didn’t know if anyone else would find it as interesting as she did.
Thankfully, my friend sent the video to our smaller Oula group chat. Amanda is an AMAZING dancer! It was inspiring to see someone breaking the mold and being successful. And her story is relatable. How many of us have been told we couldn’t do something because we don’t have the right look, or the right size, or the right talent, etc.? I know I have! I was told as a young dancer I didn’t have the right body to be a professional dancer. I didn’t, and still don’t, have the long, lean limbs once required to be successful. Hearing that at any age, but especially as an impressionable youth, can really mess with your confidence, your self-image and your mental health. Thankfully for me, I had an instructor who encouraged me to continue dancing – she didn’t fit the mold either. I was able to see her dance as part of the ensemble for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood (LA’s version of Broadway).
But I should have taken the time to circle back to finish the conversation and learn the answer towhy my friend didn’t think it was something that should be shared. Oula is about creating safe spaces for opening up to greater understanding, greater kindness, and having empathy and compassion for one another. I missed an opportunity to be an extension of that for my friend.
Which leads me to my other point in bringing up this story: Not everyone has a confidant or a safe place they can turn when they have something personal they want to share. I want to use this newsletter as a discussion board for those who might feel too nervous, too vulnerable, too whatever to share your personal stories. Let’s use Can I Get a Connection? to start having those tougher discussions: body neutrality, gender norms and expectations, self-image, insecurities—these are hard but REAL. It requires vulnerability to share and good intentions from those listening. I want us to communicate our thoughts and feelings respectfully and come into these discussions with an open mind and heart. My goal with this newsletter is for it to foster two-way communication and create REAL forums for discussion.
So with that, I’ll ask—if you have a compassionate, empathetic, and kind community that cares… what will you share? If you would hesitate… why?
Or have you been on my end and not really finished a conversation? What happened?
Leave your comments below. Let’s get the conversations rolling!
Oula Community Commitments:
We, as a community of individuals, commit to live the following as we move through the Oulaverse.
Thank you for the post! It reminds me of Girls Gone Strong – they have lots of similar beliefs and values, and I really like their resources and articles for women. They have articles on mindset: confidence, body image, stress management, empowerment. I would love to see Oula and Girls Gone Strong connect or even with each other in some way.
I know I’ve chosen not to share lot of fitness-y podcasts, videos, and articles that I like or have been reminded of. Girls Gone Strong is one of those things.
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March 02, 2023
Thank you! It’s hard to be vulnerable in shared spaces. At our oula space in Bemidji, MN-it is inclusive (thanks to Angie). I do understand the politics involved in having a voice these days-GODDESS knows if we say something wrong! There is that fear of offending someone. BUT! When we are kind and do our best-it usually works out ;)