HEAVY SLABS OF MEAT – that’s the best way to describe how my legs felt as I flopped down on the couch and threw them up on the coffee table.

I couldn’t remember the last time they were this tired. A wonderful wedding with lots of dancing (and wearing heels that I hadn’t put on in a long time) was the cause.

I sat for a few minutes in the dark, staring at my legs, relishing in their exhaustion. It’s a VERY rare opportunity for me to have the chance to just sit and let my mind wander with no agenda. I was enjoying it, but…

I kept going back to my legs.

I’ve always been SUPER self-conscious about my legs. It didn’t matter how in- or out-of-shape I was, they always bothered me. They are thick and short. I always wanted them to be longer, leaner, less muscular.

I noticed the hair on them and it made me laugh to think that earlier in the day it was such a big decision whether or not I should shave them. I was worried what people at the wedding would think. Like they would even notice!

But why did I care so much earlier in the day? Why was it such a big deal? Why would I even care if anyone noticed?

I always thought that I shaved my legs because I LIKED HOW IT LOOKED not because I WAS AFRAID OF WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD THINK

“I am a visual person and I like the aesthetic of my shaven legs.” – But now I was wondering if that statement was entirely true or some kind of lie I was telling myself.

If I really did it for myself, then why did I feel like I needed to hide them from the world? I remembered a few times in the past couple of weeks where I was worried that people would notice or judge me.

I shouldn’t have any leftover pre-teen body issue anxiety garbage sneaking up on me. Seriously, I’m too old for that. Plus, I’m a dancer. I’ve danced on stage half-naked (or more). How do I still feel self-conscious about this?

I stared back at my legs.

They tingled and reminded me (in my first dance teacher’s voice):

How dare you judge us.”

The legs were right!. They are amazing. They do incredible things for me every day. How could I ever be ashamed of them?

I took a picture of them with my phone to remind me that they are both powerful and beautiful.

It’s time to get over this.

I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to see if changing my everyday actions and behaviors could change my perception and reduce my anxiety over my bare, unshaven legs.

The experiment goes like this: I would only wear shorts or skirts and would not shave my legs until I felt comfortable having them out in public. Once I could push past worrying about what other people thought I knew I would hit a new level of self-acceptance and confidence — and only then would I shave my legs.

It’s harder than I thought, but there’s definitely been improvements in my perception over the past month.

It’s been miserably hot in NYC so it’s been easy for me to show off my legs. I wince slightly less whenever I think someone might notice the hair. And when I catch myself having those negative thoughts, I remind myself of something positive about my legs and give them a mental “THANK YOU!”.

I’m even starting to have days where have zero negative thoughts.

Progress! I think it’s working!


Here’s the part I’m really curious about.

Do other people feel this way?

Do you have body hang-ups like me?

Do you not cut your hair short cause you’re afraid of how others will judge you?

Do you not wear tank tops just because you hate the way your arms look?

Do you avoid bikinis because you don’t want anyone to see your belly?  

Do you always have sex with the lights off cause you feel embarrassed about how your body looks?

Challenge yourself and GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Let’s do this! Try the experiment for at least a month and see if it helps change your perception:

1) Pick one body hang-up you have .

2) Think or write down all of the AMAZING things that it does for you.

3) Stop hiding it! Let it out. Celebrate it. Make a dance around it.

4) Every time you catch yourself having negative thoughts go back to the positive things. Reframe it.

5) Share your thoughts and experiences on Instagram or Twitter (find us @dancewithbahar). #reclaimyourbody #effyourbeautystandards #thankyoubody




Jalene has been studying various dance and movement forms since 1998. While she is still in love with dance as performance art she is currently focusing on bringing dance into everyday lives and guiding others through their own explorations of dance, artistic expression, and self-discovery.

Author: Jalene

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2 thoughts on “An experiment in banishing body hang-ups

  1. I love this post! This parallels some of the ideas I have been thinking about lately regarding cultural norms/shaving/body image/raising a pre-teen.

    Posted on September 2, 2016 at 2:03 pm
    1. Thanks, Steph! I’m sure you’re doing a great job with the pre-teen thing. The fact that you’re even thinking about these things will make her more aware of them.

      Posted on September 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm