Her Hips Don't Lie: Unveiling the Bellydancing Myth. Man's fantasy. Woman's fitness.
“Bellydancing.” What kind of an image came into your mind? A beautiful, brown belle dancing away, whilst a large man sits on his throne of cushions. A thundering clap or three in approval. She offers him a gracious smile of thanks. It’s the popular, sexualised and Orientalist image which has long been, throughout centuries’ worth of popular culture and literature been made the 'truth'. That image which makes you switch to the other channel in haste, as your family suddenly become interested in the wallpaper!
The real waves of sexualised images of ‘Bellydancing Babes’ originate from the Victorian era when male traders and travellers started to excitedly explore, discovering and document the Middle East and Asian continents. Nineteenth century merchants would visit harems, but because they weren’t allowed in the women’s section, they began to spin a tale of what lay beyond those gilded doors.
They started fantasising about the beautiful women, and conveniently, men would benefit from this social dance. In short, belly dancing became sexualised to become man’s ideal, and wasn’t a reflection of reality at all! Since the West relied upon the Victorian man’s travel account, this was what became the ‘truth.’
But what if I was to tell you that Bellydancing is actually an expressive dance art by women, solely for the eyes of women? Bellydancing in the East was a celebration of the Feminine Form, a social event, and a preparation for pregnancy and birth. Originating in the Middle East, this social dance then spread to different parts of Africa. In the same way us girls might gather for a Starbucks or a Girly Night In, Eastern women had been shaking their hips and bellies both in the name of fun and fitness, but has been long since manipulated, much like the veils of the Bellydancer’s outfit, into something quite different altogether. It’s actually classed in the same elite circle as professional ballet dancers and dancers.
So there you have it! Authentic bellydancing has and never will be for the eyes of men.