Assenting to Breasts
“Today, in spin, we only wear sports bras,” Feonix said to me.
“Are we ready?” I asked, wiggling my belly pooch.
She nodded. “It is time.”
Feonix and I are spin fangirls. At our gym, this one spin teacher, C, who plays metal, and has awesome high-energy classes with clapping, yelling, and singing. He actually makes spin classes (normally an Inquisition-level torment) fun. Really effin’ fun. And in his classes, Feo and I are generally the loudest, most enthusiastic ones. Not for attention, but because… we’re moved. We’re sweating. We’re on fire.
And of the two of us, Feonix is undoubtedly more daring, more bold, more uncaring of others foibles. And I’m no shrinking flower.
So, we’re in spin, and after the warm-up, Feonix rips her shirt off, and it racing along in her sports bra and shorts, looking fly. And I… wait. I’m sweating though my shirt I have some thoughts in my head, some shame. Mostly about my wibble in my belly and how stupidly it jiggles when I’m racing up an invisible hill. And maybe about how small my breasts are, and when I wear a sports bra, they look like disobedient tangerines.
I think people will look at me, and think, “Why is that fat, dykey bitch punishing me with looking at her body? She takes up so much space, it’s just distracting. She’s probably trying to get some attention, get some man. So distracting, that fattie.”
Who takes their clothes off in the gym? Who wears less? Who shows it off? The hotties. The women in the best shape, not as an invitation, but as a proclamation. I assume they think, in their spandex short-shorts and Champion sports bras, “These are my abs, my glutes, and my hamstrings and I am not ashamed. I work hard to make these glutes powerful. I am not afraid of your glances, because I am a fucking boss. I work hard for this body. Fuck off.”
But that’s what I want to think. That’s what I want to be. And even if I can’t do laundry on my abdomen, or do an unassisted pull-up, or be a swimwear model, I have a body. And it’s awesome because it’s mine.
“Boom,” I said, and took off my tee-shirt, and I biked faster. And it was helpful to see where my torso was in space, and how hiked up my shoulders were. It was helpful that my classmates nodded at me positively, and Feonix whispered, “Yesssssss.”
And it was good to think, “I am not ashamed.”
So, there’s this post by Lindy Shopper, who is one of the most aestetically astute people in the swing world. She’s good at details, a clear writer, and a brilliant conversationalist. I could chat with her for years and years and years and never be bored. And she wrote something that I disagree with. My friend Christina wrote a rebuttal to LS, that carries some interesting reframing ideas in it. And while I don’t entirely disagree with her, I think that there’s some space in the middle.
Me. I’m in the middle.
In the context of this, LS is commenting on some fashion choices that didn’t seem to take into account the athleticism and flexibility that lindy demands, and how some fancy dresses foil a more modest approach. And then there’s breasts everywhere. Flying. Bouncing. Wildly. Which to her, seems not very complimentary, or in the best taste.
And she makes awesome points about finding clothes that fit, and not settling for clothes that expose you, in perhaps a way you don’t want. And when she speaks about modesty and decency, I think she’s talking about that in the context of lindy events and the aesthetic that traditionally accompanies them. And in the frame of that aesthetic, I think she’s right.
When a teacher is wearing shorts that end at her butt, it can be hard to stare at her posture without feeling a little…. tender? distracted? overwhelmed? bedazzled? But I still respect her, and her bootylicious self. I wonder what her intent is, and her awareness, but I’m filly enough to get my hands outta my pockets and listen. Because that’s what you need to do, in my world. People have all different reasons to dress how they dress, some intentionally, some unintentionally, and there’s all different ways to look sharp and feel powerful.
We don’t all share the same aesthetic, even for the same niche dance. As a tall, bigger-hipped lady with a limited clothing budget, the vintage look takes a lot of effort. And, while it is possible to get well-made clothed for anyone, of any size, it’s still… not my look. (Except the shoes. Heavens.) I see the appeal, but it’s not my jam.
When I go vintage shopping, or wear a vintage piece, the majority of styles were made for a woman half my size. And while they can be molded to work, I don’t want that. I want to be comfortable, and fabulous, and not sweat to high heavens. I want to wear the modern, light dress. I want to feel my legs free, and I want my lines to be sharp, and I trust that my little tangerines will stay in roughly the same area. I want to feel the breeze.
And that’s me. Comfort. Color. Lines. Bow ties. Gay cowboy clubbing shirts. Plain black dance sneakers. No fuss, still fly.
You might see the top-wibble of my little breasts, you’ll definitely see my bra-strap, and you might see my short-shorts, but I think you’ll survive. I trust that my partners will survive. If I am so accidentally erotically overflowing that I inhibit their dancing, or my minimal cleavage is so beguiling that they are crippled by arousal, then I will call the fire department for them, and hose those lads off. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Because I’m not ashamed. I wear clothes for me, for my comfort, for my grace, for my lines. I don’t expect to score at a lindy event, and when I do score at lindy events, it is never because of what I wear. Never.
But in a deeper sense, I don’t think larger follows should feel like they should cover up, or feel shame about their bodies.
My thought: larger bodies are beautiful. Yep.
I like seeing chunky legs, side-boob, top boob wibble, chicken-wingy arms. If I see that a follow has some cottage-cheesy goin on-top of her powerful hamstrings, that’s hot to me. It’s hot because it’s her. It’s hot because she’s athletic and powerful and splendid. Because personally, I think larger women are nice to touch. And if I see more of her breasts, because there’e more of them to go around, that’s awesome. And if I helplessly dream of her, in my queer little thoughts, that’s my own business.
And if there’s a youtube video where a follow’s breast floats out of her dress, and maybe you can catch a glimpse of some sweet, soft breast-flesh, that’s an image to treasure quietly and respectfully and not fuss over. It doesn’t negate her skill as a dancer, it doesn’t diminish her grace, her poise, her strength. It might not fit into a traditional aesthetic, but I don’t see any children sobbing, or any leads helplessly grabbing their genitals in miserably torment, beguiled and teased by an errant bra strap. When I see a follow’s under-butt, or her gluteal fold, it’s not really a big deal. It’s a butt. We all have them. They’re how we can dance, balance, run, sit, stand, and move. They’re all beautiful and silly and bold.
And when a follow flashes, and has that moment of shame, I don’t want to compound that. She knows that it can be a trampoline, and she might feel a little tender about it. I don’t want her to feel sad about her form, or her dress, or her life, or let things conflate into an all out spiral of self-defeating body-shame. There’s so much female mortification in our world, and so many industries that profit off those feelings.
I want to let her know it’s cool. It’s just a breast. They’ve been enriching human life for a long time.
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