Love this article I came across – it says all the things I talk about all the time and try to believe all the time.
This is a lesson that applies outside of the dance world. To a look at a woman like Rebel Wilson, you’d never know she’s a rising Hollywood star. We have a very fixed idea of what “rising Hollywood star” looks like, and it’s not a fat bleached blonde Aussie. Or what about Sarah Robles, the American Olympic weightlifter who made headlines when she revealed that, due to lack of support and sponsorships, she sometimes couldn’t afford the petrol she needed to drive to training? She doesn’t look like an Olympian, and if you passed her on the street, you’d probably think that she hasn’t exercised in years. You wouldn’t suspect that she’s an elite athlete capable of hoisting 145 kilos above her head and holding it there. We think of these jobs – starlet, athletic powerhouse – as requiring certain body types, but we’re wrong.
Of course, Robles would have a hard time doing gymnastics, and Gabby Douglas would struggle to clean and jerk a hundred kilos. Certain body types are better suited to certain pursuits. But the fact remains, you can’t know just by looking at a woman what she’s capable of doing.
We live in a culture where body size and shape are considered indications not just of what a person can do, but what he or she is worth. We see a slender woman and see discipline and fitness. We see a fat woman and see greed and illness. It’s a snap judgment we make, one we rarely stop to evaluate. It’s also often wrong.
It’s true that a person’s body is a canvas on which their life story can be written: scars, freckles, stretch marks, tattoos. You can look at a man with a buzz cut and an amputated leg and presume that he is a returned serviceman. You can look at a woman, see that one shoulder is bulkier than the other, and conclude that she is a rower. And you might be right. You can look at a person and assume that they have no disability, and be wrong.