The Washington Post recently published an article called, "An Advocate for the Shimmy," about Rachael Galoob Ortega, a former attorney who now works as a belly-dance instructor. This is an interesting premise for an story, but I found the actual article to be somewhat problematic. The reporter, Christina Ianzito, really focuses a lot on Rachel's body and appearance, and the appearance of the women in her classes, instead of her activities and accomplishments. Here are some excerpts:
Tall and big-boned, she has a soft belly that is bared and shaking along with her hips
"Wow, look at that one!" exclaims a heavyset woman with short brown hair
She injects into her instructions warm laughter and self-deprecating comments about her own "muffin top" bulging over her waistband. This substance, however, is never, ever to be called "fat" in her presence.
Saphira knew she'd never be a ballerina: "I was a big girl. It was always, always very clear to me I would never excel in it, and that I didn't have the body type to be accepted in it."
"Rachael was never the best dancer or the best-looking or any of that kind of nonsense that people think about when they think about a dance performance," remembers friend and fellow performer Susan Turner Ravin.
She found that she had a natural talent for it, and, physically, belly dance fit her perfectly.
When Saphira runs her hands through her long dark hair while gyrating at Casablanca, she isn't too far from looking like a beautifully costumed stripper.
The thing is, if you watch the video, Rachel is not overweight. She is not a "big girl." She's not "fat." She has an extremely normal and healthy body type - and frankly, one that's not worthy of the amount of time and attention that Ianzito spends on it.
Did you find the article a little strange too?