4-2 Circus, bodies, and dysmorphia

If you look up “acro” or “acroyoga” on google image search.  The first few pages are full of images like this.

People who look “fit.” People who are slim, with slight definition in their muscles.  People who’s cellulite-free bodies and slender limbs highlight the elegance of the pose they are holding.  They are attractive to our modern senses.

I don’t look like that.  I have belly rolls and boobs.  I have cellulite on my ass and my triceps jiggle if I wave my arms.  I can squat with a person on my shoulders.  I can hold an inverted pike while being supported only on my biceps.  I can create the same poses as the pretty people on Instagram or Pinterest.

The problem is, I don’t look like they do.  So my poses don’t look like theirs.  No matter how precise I am, no matter how clean my form, I will still jiggle.  My ass will still curve out, my belly will never look flat.  This is the reality of my body.  My body, which is strong and fit and capable.

This has led me to a weird sort of body dysmorphia.  The things I do, and most of the people I do them with, are portrayed by a very specific body type.  So, when I build an image of what I am doing in my head, it looks like the images I’ve seen, whether through photography or through my own experience of watching others.  Then I see pictures of myself, or I work with a mirror to check myself in, and I don’t look like that.  Really, any time I encounter a mirror, I’m shocked at my own appearance.  In my head, I’m slimmer, trimmer, have cleaner lines.

This kind of shock leads to a sense of being ‘wrong’.  That ‘wrongness’ is constantly reinforced by our society through media images of beauty, messages about dieting and losing belly fat on the radio, and internet pop ups for belly flattening products.  I truly, deeply, love my body.  I love the power in my legs, I love the strength in my muscles.  But I will never consider myself sexy.  Sexy is reserved for other people, ones who conform to that messaging.  And this has invaded even my body-positive hobby.  I don’t like how I look in tricks, because I don’t look like the pretty people on Instagram.

This is about my experience, but it’s also about a broader experience.  Seeing people built like myself represented in my interests would allow me to understand what I look like.  It would make me less likely to shy away from mirrors.  I would give me the chance to appreciate the way my curves flatter a position.  I would allow me to learn from other people how to better arch, curve, and flex to look damn hot.

I would like to see more images of curvy people being strong, active and fit.  Because fitness is measured in more ways than waist size.

Photo credit: Anna Hotz ( She put it together all pretty like.)

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