“Belly dancing is an activity associated with positive body image, because participants tend to focus less on their external appearance, and more on the experience and what they are able to do with their bodies. ... It allows women a rare, safe and creative opportunity for exploring and expressing their sensual and sexual selves.”
– Marika Tiggemann, Sex Roles, A Journal of Research
A recent study confirms what many who study bellydance have known for years: "that belly dancing is an embodying activity that gives women a sense of ownership of their bodies. It allows women to be mentally and physically present... and to feel good about themselves."
Because bellydance honors and celebrates the body, specifically the hips, chest, derriere, and belly -- body parts which are all subjected to shame, scrutiny, and objectification in our culture -- it differs from dance forms which are indifferent to body shape (African, hip hop, tap) or seek to minimize or transcend the body altogether (ballet, some forms of modern). Through bellydance's vocabulary of circular and undulating movements, where the flesh itself is vibrated in a shimmy, women develop a new appreciation for their bodies' natural curves.
Below are some articles by and about bellydancers, discussing how the dance has transformed their lives.
Australian study finds that women who bellydance have fewer body image issues
The Importance of the Belly: Body Image and Belly Dance
By: Mariana Marchese
What Performing With a Belly Dancing Troupe Taught Me About Life
By Catherin Chen, PhD