Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Happy Hips

This post is part of's support of the Dove® Unstoppable Moms for Unstoppable Girls Contest. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors. Go to to enter by sharing how you inspire girls to reach their full potential.
When my daughter was a little more than three months old, I came out of the haze most women enter as soon as their child leaves the womb. I realized I had been going through the motions and started actively working on learning to love the new me; the mom. Somewhere between "Oh shit, I'm pregnant" and "Hang on, Penelope needs boob," I acquired a couple curves. So I should say I've also been actively working on learning to love my new body. 

Finding a balance between mamahood and all the things I love to do is difficult some days, but not impossible by any means. I'm a mom. But I'm also a partner, a broadcaster, a lover, a painter, a promoter, a yoga enthusiast, a writer, a sister, a daughter... you get the drift; I'm not self identifying as only a mother.  

I'm also a novice belly dancer. I was asked to participate in a cabaret show and at first I thought hellll no; I'm not good enough to solo in front of people; I'm not back to my pre baby body; my costumes don’t fit right; I'm not... I'm not... I'm not... Then I realized I was being ridiculous. I decided to try to turn those negative thoughts around in my head and focus on what I am! I AM a belly dancer, I LOVE playing dress up and being painted, I AM a performer!

So rather than give up something I truly love doing, I put my ego and insecurity aside and teamed up with my favorite body painter Shelley Bellefontaine, from You-Name-It Face and BodyArt, to create something spectacular for a circus themed puppet cabaret show: a snake lady. 

Sure, I was hiding behind a mask, and a layer or two of body paint. 

I was also dancing in nothing but that body paint, in my new mama body! Really, what better way than dancing in front of 200 people in nothing but paint to a) stop taking myself so seriously, b) try to let go of being in control of everything and most importantly c) fall in love with, and be comfortable in, my new body. I figured if the dance wasn't A+ at least we'd have fun painting, and I could tackle all of the above.  

Everything that could go "wrong" did. I cried through the process of creating the costume - sewing slinky fabric is like trying to walk a straight line after 6 shots of tequila; the air brush machine didn't work the first night; the paint came off certain parts of my body before I hit the stage; and having my daughter in the audience for one of the performances caused my breasts to engorge so much I thought the nipple covers were going to come off while I was dancing.

But, who do you think I was dancing for? Every time I shimmied or did a belly roll in my living room, while I fought for my body to remember movements, there was this wrinkly innocent being staring at me that giggled every time I did a hip lift in her direction, that was so full of delight simply from watching me dance.

Through all of it, I got confirmation that everything happens for a reason, and that we can control nothing but our attitudes. In doing the show, ego turned to self-confidence, insecurity to self-awareness and control to whimsical frivolity. Those three things just happen to be what make me beautiful.

A year and half later, I’m still working on me. Trying to improve my attitude; working on my ability to see situations from multiple perspectives and recognizing; and dealing with my issues, rather than projecting them onto other areas of my life. It's a never-ending learning process and it helps me be the person I want to be. Just because I had a baby doesn't mean I'm going to stop looking within. If anything it has caused me to look deeper. I'm hoping this will help guide me to become the mom I dream of being and by her seeing this within me, she’ll become an unstoppable girl.

Let’s talk about how moms can improve how our daughters view their bodies. Because, just as it is our responsibility to ensure our children are eating well and that we’re stimulating their minds and hearts, it's up to us to encourage participation in activities and to engage in communication about any self esteem issues that may arise. 

I hope I’m able to encourage by example, that when my daughter sees me taking joy in how my body moves, rather than comparing how it looks to others’, it's integrated into her mind that this is just what you do. That “normal” is being secure and comfortable in their own skin, knowing who they are and having the confidence to dance, drum and dream. Or plant a garden, play a banjo, go to a yoga class, write a book... no matter what the activity she will know that the possibilities are endless if they embrace what her spirit is calling her to do, that is what makes her beautiful and strong.  

I want my daughter to dance with me, no matter what she looks like, and I want her to look to me as a positive role model.  The Dove Unstoppable Moms for Unstoppable Girls Contest is for moms just like me who have thought about quitting an activity they loved because of how they felt about their bodies. 

Are you an unstoppable mom? Share YOUR story about a time when you thought about quitting an activity you loved because of how you felt about your body and let them know how you think moms/role models can better support girls to participate in activities. You have until June 13, 2013 to enter. You could win $2,500 for yourself and $2,500 will be donated to help raise a girl's self-esteem.