As a dance teacher, I have taught young girls, teenagers, women, women and girls with special needs and women recovering from illness.
How do we go from being young, carefree, uninhibited females to self-conscious beings?
Looking in the mirror in class provides an important role. It shows if you have good form and if you are doing the steps correctly. As you progress, you can see the power of your body. You can view the beauty of movement. You can check on your posture.
If you are in a no-judgement zone, it can really be a tool to boost confidence and self-esteem. You are in a safe place for expression.
No one should compare their body to others. Don’t let negative thoughts enter your mind. Do not be afraid of feeling awkward or uncoordinated. Know that you will improve as you continue.
The goal is to find the joy while looking at yourself. Do not mentally psyche yourself out. Self-expression feels good. You can feel authentic and free by viewing yourself.
Focus on what you see, on what you like about yourself. You don’t need validation from others who are also taking the class. No one is perfect. Embrace your flaws and love yourself the way you were created.
I think it is a wonderful opportunity to start young if possible. It will help, of course, at any age.
I have heard many comments expressed in my classes over the years.
One woman, who was overweight at the time, came to my group class years ago. She said, “Oh, I can’t look at myself in the mirror!” I told her that everyone was looking at me for instruction. She took that class but did not return.
A different woman said, “Oh I now see I look like my parent. I see the same wrinkles.”
I said, “Let’s find something positive that you see.”
I have seen girls in my teenage class get distracted by themselves in the mirror as well. They fix their hair or check out how they look in their dance attire. Everyone should wear what they feel comfortable in. No leotards necessary; it is not ballet.
Concern with appearance is natural. It is important to us to present ourselves nicely to the world. We often consider that attractive females are more popular. Females are more critical about their appearance than men. Our bodies go through puberty, births and menopause. We have body changes throughout our lives. We might not be able to control our body shape, but we can be the best version of ourselves.
Dance class embraces the mirror and leads to positive body image. Looking into the mirror, we can see poise and muscle growth. Looking at yourself becomes a regular occurrence. It can rid yourself of insecurities. Viewing your image in action can really change your mood and make you happy. Body improvement can be seen, and a sense of achievement is wonderful.
Being aware of the heart, lungs, strength and endurance benefits brings everyone to a good place.
Before looking at your image, you can think or say “I am strong” or “I am capable”. These affirmations can increase motivation and the desire to move.
Girls can be less anxious in their abilities to perform better. This improvement can translate into other goals as well. It can contribute to areas of life outside of class.
In our lives, we will also be looking in the mirror. It can be in our homes or in a shop’s dressing room. The key is to have a positive mindset wherever you may be.
It will help with relationships as well. We must have love for ourselves before we can love others. We want to see a good impression of ourselves in the mirror. We need to view our good qualities and build our sense of unique power.
I can personally attest to the great energy that the women have after leaving my class, whether in a group or a private setting.
In gyms and on social media the focus on our bodies can make it hard for many to attend. Females with larger bodies can feel intimidated. We need to put an end to this.
When viewing yourself, don’t be critical. I was a very shy child. I grew up performing and gained confidence in myself. I trained for many years and love sharing my passion with others.
Stand tall and be proud. Love yourself when looking in the mirror.
It isn’t vanity—it’s sanity!
Karyn Friedman teaches dance fitness classes in Monsey, NY. Private and Group, in person and on Zoom. You can reach her on Instagram @Karyn.friedman