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This week at Sky Sirens I got into the hoop on the first go. I did not have to ask for a refresher on how to move my limbs, and I did not spend a few minutes glaring at the hoop hoping to intimidate it. I just got on the horse, or in this case, the hoop. It’s a small feat and something a lot of my fellow ‘beginners’ managed to master almost instantly. Two of the lovely girls in my class have dance backgrounds, which I feel is very similar to when Nikki Webster was on Dancing With The Stars. Basically, they are used to using their bodies to do things other than sit on the lounge, or stand at a bar waiting to order a drink. So I remind myself to not compare myself to them, and instead I compare myself to Mark Holden when he was on Dancing With The Stars, unstable, fairly talentless but a fun loving underdog.

“It was a great feeling to get into the hoop on the first try and be able to do something that I had felt in week one was perhaps impossible.”

I had never been able to do the monkey bars even as a child, as I was much better at eating Mars Bars. So being able to hoist myself in a hoop hanging off the ground is a big deal for me.

I like to think of myself as a fairly confident person. I mean, I’ll hide from someone I don’t like from High School in the supermarket, but I have no problems meeting new people or being in most social situations. I say most, because I still hate after work drinks with middle-aged co-workers, where they tell you about their shitty lives and low expectations for men, and I just get way too drunk and end up spilling red wine on someone while I’m in the middle of telling one of them to throw away thirty years of marriage if their husband is so incapable he can’t make his own sandwich. And my middle-aged co-workers always try and get me in a taxi while I scream that Uber is a cheaper option.

Still, even with my confidence to give unsolicited marriage advice, though I’ve never been married and no one has even offered to marry me, which is rude of all my ex-boyfriends, I originally found the idea of enrolling in Sky Sirens incredibly intimidating. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m pretty comfortable with myself and my body, like I might have the odd break down in a change room under bad lighting but day to day I’m okay with myself. But I still felt nervous to use my body, I was so used to dismissing myself as not athletic, I realised it had become an excuse to not do things out of fear that I would be too fat to do them.

I understand that it’s not a well formed thought, but so many of my experiences with exercise are linked in with my adolescence. A time of feeling so bad about myself, and particularly my weight, of not wanting to play Netball anymore because I did not want to wear the short skirts that revealed what I had decided were my doughy legs. Even as an adult the compliment I receive the most is, you are so brave. I am not being called brave because I climb mountains or run into burning buildings. To be fair I would never run, maybe walk at a slight speed and I don’t even do stairs let alone mountains. I find a working escalator.

I get called brave because I wear a crop top, brave because I wear a short skirt and have cellulite and thighs that touch, brave because I will post an unflattering photo on Instagram, brave because I exist at a size 14/16 and I make no apologies for it. Brave because I don’t try and cover my body. Brave because I do not let my size define me. Brave for doing Lyra at Sky Sirens.

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“Being called brave is not my favourite compliment because it’s barely a compliment. It’s basically a short form of saying; You should feel really bad about yourself because of your size but you don’t and I’m surprised.”

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Ninety percent of people mean well, they are wrapped up in their own insecurities and are in shock that I seem confident despite the fact I do not conform to society’s rigid beauty standards. Still, if you are not calling your size 8 friend Tiffany brave for wearing a crop top at a music festival, don’t call me brave for showing a slice of my stomach, it’s patronising and insulting.

Society has a habit of constantly reminding me that I do not fit the normal. That me, enrolling in Lyra classes is,“brave,” instead of just a fun new exercise I’m trying. I had two co workers express this exact sentiment to me. Because of the size of my body, doing normal things, normal women do in their twenties becomes a statement, even if I do not want it to be one. I do my best to block these things out but I’m human and I hear them and absorb them.

So that’s why it felt so good to swing my body into the hoop with no help. It was a reminder to myself that I am capable and I can do anything. The lesson went on and there were many things I was unable to do or some moves I could half do or some that seemed impossible but this lesson felt different because I felt differently about myself, I felt capable. It’s not about being brave it’s about being myself. It’s about doing things that make me feel stronger.

“It’s about being a size 14/16 and being able to hoist my own body into a hoop that dangles off the ground and feel like a bloody Queen. A Queen with a sore vagina from accidentally pressing it into a hoop… but still a Queen!”

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