Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ballroom Brings More Than Weight Loss

Hi Everyone!

It’s about time I started telling you about some of the other crazy wonderful things that come with having Ballroom as an obsession…ahem…I mean hobby…

I’ve told the tale of what my life was like right around the time I started… frumpy dumpy me… not only was I maxed out at 340lbs but I was invisible to the rest of the world. Yep… it seems the bigger you get the less people see you. Along with all that weight came exceptionally low self esteem, which was only compounded by the fact that the “average” person really didn’t care that I was around.

I went to a very reputable department store to find a gift for a friend once, I was in jeans and a t-shirt, my hair in a pony tail and not a stitch of makeup (my standard “uniform”) to run in and pick up some beauty products from one of those cosmetic counters. I was the only customer there… guess what… it took 15 minutes for the sales lady to approach me… after we made eye contact several times and it was clear that I was standing there waiting (I wasn’t wandering around inspecting her wears, I was standing…hands folded on the counter…waiting…) She FINALLY approached me with a weary look and inquired “Is there something you need?” Not a “can I help you” no… basically a what is it I can do to make you go away. Part of me wanted to say “No, you can’t…but your manager can…where can I find them?” but that’s not what happened…instead I was my usual polite overly apologetic self.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I need to pick up (insert product name here).”

ACK! What was wrong with me? No self respecting human being should put up with that crap…my dollars are just as green as everyone else’s! I’ve spent most of my working years in one form of customer service or other and I would NEVER treat a potential customer like that! But that’s the thing… I wasn’t self respecting… I first told myself I would never shop there again, then thought well, next time I’ll just look the part…get dressed up a little.

The above story is not the first time something like that had happened… I used to be teased and followed by punk kids at the mall… Adults would brush by me or run into me as if I wasn’t there… I used to be able to move through crowded rooms without a second glance… there wasn’t a chance you’d get eye contact from me if I didn’t already know you… I was so used to being invisible and in my mind being visible was equal to being tortured and taunted…I didn’t want to become visible! I wanted to float through life observing everything, taking it all in…but never being acknowledged. I used to write on journals like this all the time about a ton of different topics… never posting my name or profile, I would turn down nearly any opportunity that would put me in any kind of a spotlight.

It’s so strange to say that after I spent most of my growing up years seeking out an audience and wanting so desperately to entertain, although for as much performing and audience pleasing as I did…there was equal amounts of peer torture for being tall, smart, fat, quiet, loud… As I saw it there was no making my peers happy, I was just the target for all their insecurities.

Since dancing, I started to be forced out of my hardened shell, the first big push was that Rumba my instructor and I did at the first party I attended (new students are often asked after about 10 lessons or so to dance at a party). That performance still haunts me, but it was exactly what I needed at the time… since then it’s been a bit of an uphill push to get my confidence and feeling of self worth up to good levels. My instructor and I have had many conversations, and my face has turned red plenty of times over the things I was asked to do for a dance. Really, all he was asking was for me to be all feminine and girly, you know dance like a woman and all… and I couldn’t do it. Sometimes I still have the little warning bells of old that go off in my head when I’m dancing that warn me about drawing attention to myself or if so and so saw this they’d tease me for sure…but now I know how to shut the warning bells down and enjoy the dance.

All of this brings me to my most recent mall experience… I FINALLY decided to get rid of the majority of my old clothes. Yes even after losing 93lbs I was wearing some of the same pants and blouses. The only reason I purchased any clothes in the last year was so I could be reasonably presentable at the dance studio or at other dance related events. I wasn’t even particularly dressed nicely that day… but when I went into my usual clothing store (one I’d nearly grown out of a year ago as my pant/dress size was pushing 30/32…when you’re that big…it’s pretty much catalog only shopping) I ran around pulling clothing in the size I had purchased the last time I bought “dance” outfits. Then thought about it again…and grabbed the next size down too, just hoping maybe I could at least be almost in that size. HA…not only was I not in the smaller size I selected… but I was TWO sizes smaller in the pants… you’ve never seen anyone happier in a dressing room in your LIFE. It was all I could do to not blow my entire paycheck!

I wore these clothes to work earlier this week... and while a few more observant co-workers noticed that I looked much “thinner” than normal… it was the people I don’t normally talk to that took notice. Men type people to be more precise… I received smiles and winks from a few guys… when I was running errands some nice gentleman went out of their way to hold doors for me and the sales people at every retail establishment were more than gracious. On campus (in my spare time I play a college student trying to earn her degree) I was getting smiles and nods from boys 5-10 years my junior… Nothing like my previous experiences at these same locations… all because I’ve learned confidence and self worth while learning how to dance.

We can’t forget that I just figured out it’s ok to dance Tango even though it’s a really physically close dance, who knows…maybe I can talk my hips into being confident enough to learn Samba! (I won't put the cart before the horse though... I'm still ironing out the insecurities that come with T-A-N-G-O.)


joseph guarraci said...

Dear Katie: Were extatic over the progress you made and pleased to see a change in your atitude. What a cute dimpled smile you show when a door is held open for you I bet. Love, Uncle Joe and Aunt della

Anonymous said...


I absolutely loved your blog entries. Your story is amazing and congratulations on the weight loss! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kat!

It was so good to see you, too! Do you know how beautiful you are looking?! Really striking! And you should have seen yourself dance with Chris - you were marvelous!

Anonymous said...

I just think your story is FABULOUS! Yes, dancing of any kind. No drab, just fun! It kind of fell into your lap. That is the BEST way to start a new life chapter. I am so proud of you. 340 lbs? Lost 94? Absolutely incredible! Since it appears you are a real dancer now (14 months of dancing is a long time of practice), I want to see you on Dancing with the Stars! Not the show, So You Think You Can Dance!. Because you can dance with the stars! You are a Star and you made my night!