By: Jessica Van Valkenburgh
I have always been told to follow my gut.
Little did I know my most joyful triumphs, and deepest disappointments, would all somehow resonate around the sacred area between the base of my bra and the band of my jeans.
I’ve been a dancer since the time I could walk. I learned at a very early age to rely on a mirror to tell me the way things should be. It told me about my body and my talent. I learned what looked good and was pleasing, and what was out of place.
I was a natural when it came to dancing. As a kid, I was thin and lanky, with long legs, and feet that arched like dipping swans without a lick of effort. Dancing came naturally, and I felt wonderful in the praise and admiration of the audience.
This was probably the beginning of my torrid love affair with praise and criticism. When I was doing everything right, I was on top of the world. If I received a correction from my instructor, I was devastated, especially when it came to my body.
“Tummy in, Jessica!” I got used to hearing.