Somehow, I performed in the Tiny Tots recital 10 weeks later. We did the classics: "I'm a Little Teapot" and "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around." I made a friend who became a playmate. While I'm far from shy as an adult, weight stigma is still pervasive and I'm still finding ways to dance despite it. Researchers have no trouble finding 5-year-olds who say they're feeling weight stigma. It was part of my earliest memories as a mildly chubby (barely not-thin) pre-schooler in 1970.
I hadn't thought about Tiny Tots Ballet in years, until I was reminded of it last weekend at Pitzer College. I was there to speak on a panel about weight diversity. The day's events included a performance by Ragen Chastain and two of the dancers from More Cabaret. They did some fabulous numbers (including Ruth Brown's "If I can't Sell It, I'll Sit on It!") and told stories of the weight stigma they'd encountered in dance:
- Ragen told the story of a ballroom dance judge who tried to impose a no-spaghetti-straps rule, prompting her realization that being a fat dancer meant being a fat activist.
- Brittany Marie Oliphant talked about always being cast in unromantic roles in musical theater and how she reclaims the power of sexiness and charm now, when she performs burlesque or dances with More Cabaret.
- Alice Fu talked about her childhood ballet classes, the body shaming the teacher did, and her heroic reclaiming of joy in dance, with both More Cabaret and flamenco.
Glimpse that world during the Fat Flash Mob 2014, organized by Rubenesque Burlesque founder Juicy D. Light, with choreography from EmFATic Dance troupe member Alanna Kelly. It happens on Saturday, May 3, at noon in San Francisco, LA, and other locations. A herd of wild "obesity" researchers couldn't stop me from dancing with this Fat Flash Mob. I'll point my toes a few times, too... for everyone in Miss Patti's class who felt like an outsider.