Remember a little bit ago when I was talking about being short and fat? In that post, I mentioned a fantastic blog I follow and how she had changed the name from “Dancing with Stefanie” to “Biggest Girl in the Ballroom”. I asked Stef if she wanted to respond and do a guest post with her thoughts. (I love how much this blog has allowed me to connect with so many amazing people!) She did. And here’s her post.
A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet
Starting a blog has been a wonderful and surprising blessing in my life. I originally began writing about my journey with ballroom dancing (which is really just a metaphor for the journey I’m having internally with myself, and yes, Reinvented Lass, I am in the Phoenix, Arizona area) because I had so much to say about it that my husband’s eyes began to glaze over before I was 10% done with what I wanted to tell him! I honestly thought that maybe my mom and possibly my very best friend would read my ramblings. But over 150 posts later, I’ve made many digital friends, connected more deeply with local fellow-ballroom-ers, and even met some of my distant followers in person.
The blog may be about my specific story, but it is also a community of sorts. And it always thrills me to no end to connect with readers and also writers of other blogs. So you can imagine my delight when I got a message from The Reinvented Lass on my Facebook page letting me know she’d mentioned my blog in a recent post and that she was inviting me to write a guest post to respond to her comments.
Here’s what she wrote:
So why do I still see a fat girl in the mirror?
I’m working on changing that body image. Working hard. But it means undoing years of belief about myself, and that’s hard to do.
This has been on my mind lately for a reason. I follow this awesome blog called Dancing with Stefanie. She’s a ballroom dancer in Arizona (I think? Not sure exactly where), and it chronicles her dance journey. She’s a bit overweight, which impacts her dancing. The blog used to talk about dancing, how it impacts her life, and how it’s pushing her to get in better shape.
Then she renamed the blog. To “Biggest Girl in the Ballroom“.
I haven’t talked to her yet about it. But the new title bothers me a little. To me, it’s putting too much focus on her appearance and is taking away from her focus on dancing and the joy it’s bringing her.
And that made me think about my own thoughts about my shape. And it’s kinda giving me a little bit of a wake-up call.
First of all, I think it is incredibly cool that The Reinvented Lass was influenced by blog and that she made some personal discoveries about herself. I love that she is aware and self-reflective and that she noticed that it bothered her that I had changed the name of the blog, causing her to think about her own inner dialogue. So often I think that my blog is kind of self-indulgent but reading her words makes me think that perhaps it can be helpful to others as well. I also love that The Reinvented Lass spoke her truth and shared her thoughts about me changing the name of my blog. I love that she started the conversation and reached out to make it a meaningful exchange.
So, here’s the story.
When I first began my blog I started it on Blogger and it was actually originally called “The Biggest Girl In the Ballroom.” I feel like it is a catchy and intriguing title, something that might entice a person to read. But some friends and readers had the same concerns The Reinvented Lass did about the title. They said things like, “If you want to change this about yourself, why are you putting it out there that you are the biggest girl in the ballroom?” And, “Why are you focusing on your size and weight?” And, “Why are you defining yourself in this way? You are much more than your appearance.”
Valid points, I thought.
So when I decided to make the move to WordPress because I had become a bit more serious about really doing this blog thing after one of my early posts got 1800 hits and I decided that perhaps I had something valid and engaging to share and that WordPress was a better platform to really grow the community I envisioned (go run-on sentence, go!), I also decided that I’d make a fresh start and re-name the blog “Dancing With Stefanie.”
So I’ve been chugging along as “Dancing With Stefanie” for about a year now but recently, and I can’t remember exactly what it was that made me decide to change it back, but it was for same reason as before – simply because it seems to me to be a more intriguing title than “Dancing With Stefanie.” Basically, I was looking at ways to improve my visibility and reach in the digital community. It’s like, who cares about some chick named Stefanie? “Dancing With Stefanie” doesn’t really inform the reader as to what content they will find on the blog page.
So, the decision wasn’t actually related to self-esteem in this case. I’d contemplated that aspect in the past and it felt more emotionally charged for me back then. However, that being said, it is interesting how much a name affects things. Like Shakespeare noted, a rose by any other name would still be a rose, the name doesn’t change the thing itself; though the name of the blog has changed, the content is still the same. But Reinvented Lass brings up a good point. Even if the blog is the same on the inside, the name change affects how others perceive it. It also makes me ponder what message I broadcast to the world with my blog title and if it is the one I want to send. What am I focusing on? Is this the best choice?
To me, the title “Biggest Girl In The Ballroom” is an accurate reflection of my current reality and it is a “sexier” more interesting name than “Dancing With Stefanie.” I have to say that being so big has had its advantages, and I want to honor that aspect as well. You see, many people know who I am because I am such an oddity in the competitive ballroom world. I move really well, not just for someone who is obese, but, as Ivan (my instructor) put it, “It’s funny….no, that not the right word….it amazing to seeing someone so big to be moving so feminine like you.” (He’s Bulgarian and English is a 4th language). I’m instantly noticeable because of my size, and that combined with my dancing skills makes me more memorable.
That being said, it’s really not working for me to be this big. It is something I deeply want to change and something I continue to work towards. I guess at the end of the day, I’m not really attached to either title for the blog because I know where I am going and what I want. It’s not my identity and it doesn’t define me, but I do think that it makes me more visible. I’ve kind of already processed the emotional charge to both names and decided to go with the one for the moment that I think seems more interesting and informative. I’m on a mission to transform myself, kind of like the Reinvented Lass has done, from the outside in and the inside out. I’m both Stefanie and the biggest girl in the ballroom, at least for the moment. And, well, if I’m focusing on my size, so be it. I’m no longer in denial about the fact that no matter how well I may dance it cannot compensate for my unhealthy body. It’s good to focus on this because I want to change it. No, because I am changing it. It’s on my mind and it’s on my heart, and I guess it’s on my blog as well. Because as much joy as dancing brings me, as much as I love it and as wonderful as it is, it also brings me low moments…moments of sadness and even despair. Dancing, like life, brings experiences of both light and darkness and gives me the opportunity to face all aspects of myself, even the uncomfortable ones, the shadow sides. I believe that there is a gift in this. These sad times are sometimes more motivating than the happy ones and this makes me want to grow, change, and transform.
It’s interesting that I’ve gone from “Biggest Girl In The Ballroom” to “Dancing With Stefanie” back to “Biggest Girl In The Ballroom.” I don’t perhaps know exactly what it means, or if there is any great meaning behind it at all. I do know that it’s part of the journey. I do know that I’m changing and perhaps this is being reflected with changes in my blog. Thanks Reinvented Lass for caring enough to say something about it and for giving me the opportunity to reflect upon this, connect with you and your readers, and to do some self-discovery of my own. I’m grateful.
Thanks so much, Stef, for sharing your thoughts!! God knows, most of us who dance have gone through issues because of it. I know I’ve worked through my share. I’m going to keep working on them, and Stef, I can’t wait to hear more about your journey!