The title of this post may be a bit misleading. The Zumba class I attended was not specifically “feminist,” but I’ll get to that later.
How have I been doing with keeping up with my new year’s resolutions, you ask? Well honey, 3 1/4 out of 5 ain’t bad.
1. Read Books – 1 point. I haven’t been very good about reading every night, but within the last couple of weeks (while I’ve been traveling for work), I’ve gotten back into the Game of Thrones series full force. I just finished the third one (A Storm of Swords), and it just keeps getting more intense. The way that George R. R. Martin describes things in such detail makes you think you’re right there. I can hear Arya sucking the last bit of meat off of a wing of goose, and I can feel Sam Tarly’s half-frozen scarf covering his face as he walks through a snowstorm. They’re great books.
Also, one day when I forgot my book in the car, I started reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer on my phone, which I highly recommend – absolutely beautiful and intelligent writing! It’s my first Barbara Kingsolver, but I’m hoping to read lots more of her.
2. Stay Healthy – 1 point. Y’all. After getting back to work after Christmas break, I’ve been working out 3-5 days per week! I try to work out every weekday. This week is my 8th week of doing so, and I’ve actually come to look forward to it. Well, not really the running part, but I love the weights workout. This is when I actually like to push myself. I have help from my coworker and friend Brittany, because she’s a super fit fitness person and has the best butt I’ve ever seen in my life, so hopefully that will happen for me soon.
3. Find a Church Home – 1 point. We haven’t actually joined our church yet, but we’re going to be doing it soon (like next week). The truth is, there’s never really a perfect church that’s going to fit every category we want (duh…welcome to life). However, our church makes us feel loved and involved, has good theology (hey women deacons, there you are), and that does good in the community, so it hits all the main points.
4. Keep a Notebook – 1/4 point. I have a notebook, and I’ve written in it one time since my new year’s resolutions post. And I have good intentions. So that equals 1/4 point, right?
5. Blog More – 0 points. This is my first blog post since the resolutions one. So. Zero points. Here’s the thing about reading, writing, and blogging…you need a quiet, peaceful spot that’s free from distractions. My preference is on the second floor of a house by a window because it gives you a new (and inspiring) perspective. Since our house is one-story, I think I just need a good chair with a table next to it for a lamp and a Killian’s Irish Red. Maybe a chair and ottoman like this?
Now, onto feminist Zumba.
When I was in Fort Worth on a work trip a couple of weeks ago, I was able to spend some time with one of my best friends (and ex-roomie), Casey. Casey is a beautiful, creative, sweet redhead and probably the most effortlessly-cool person I know. It takes no work from her – she can zero in on the cutest top in the store that just happens to be 1,000% off. She can dig through the junk at Ross and come out with a mantle arrangement that looks like it needs to be in a magazine. She’s clearly amazing.
Casey has also recently taken up Zumba, and invited me to join her for a class at a local community center. I of course said yes, and off we went to stand in line with 1,753 Hispanic women at the doors of the gym (gotta get a good spot, you know). I’m not exaggerating when I say that Casey and I were 2 of the 3 white girls present (this matters for later).
After we were in our places on the gym floor, out bounces this petite Hispanic lady with curly hair and neon-yellow pants. She’s got a little microphone attached to an earpiece so she can talk to us while she’s doing all the moves. “Eyyyy ladies! Lez get moving!” Latin dance music starts blaring through the speaker system as she leads us through the moves. Five minutes in, I am laughing and gasping for breath and sweating as I try to get my skinny hips to do the smooth, circular motions she’s doing. It’s hard to get my body to flow like hers, and I keep making jerky awkward movements that get me off rhythm. All around me, Hispanic women are moving and grooving and looking so natural, so I just tried my best to follow along and eventually got the hang of it.
When it came time for the cool-down song, the leader chose “This Girl is on Fire” by Alicia Keys. Right before the chorus, she would have us do the “sunflower” yoga move (at least that’s what I call it) where you start standing with your arms out wide, then bend at the waist, scooping your arms down so that your arms cross as your fingertips graze the floor, then raise back up as you open your arms out and raise them above your head, mimicking the save arm-crossing movement before slowly bringing your arms out and down and ending with them back down by your sides. As we raise back up with our arms outstretched, we’d sing “This girl is on fiiiiiiiiiirrrrre!” To make it even better, you could hear the slightly off-key voice of the leader singing as loud as she could into her mic, eyes closed, tapping her toes as she raised her arms back up, making fists and bending her knees and looking ready for anything. It was awesome.
All I kept thinking was, “this makes me feel like a woman.” This was a place that celebrated our curves, which Latinas are known for (hello Sofia Vergara). This was a safe place where you could let go and let your body move to the music without judgment. This whole Zumba thing – the Latin dance moves incorporated into it – you can’t do it right without a little sass in your ass. You need hips to do the cha-cha, and you need to know how to move them. We were celebrating our hips – they entice our husbands, they birth our children, and they are used to balance those same children on as we carry them around. This is the place where we can say, no matter what they look like, my hips do what I need them to do, and they do it well.
When you’re dancing with a gym-full of other women, you feel empowered and refreshed by just being with them. We may have come into this thinking “Oh God, how am I going to go home/to work/to class and do it all again?”, but we walked out with a renewed sense of self and an attitude of I-can-get-things-done. We can keep pushing because we are women, and that’s what women have always done. We are strong – don’t mess with us.
Feminism doesn’t always look like this – but for those who have chosen motherhood, I can see why Zumba is so empowering. Regardless, I can see why the workout itself is so popular (evidenced by the gallons of sweat I produced in one hour). Now if only I could find a cheap place in Abilene that has it!
One quote to leave you with (that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with this post, but I love it so I’m going to share it anyway):
“In other words, the scandal is not that Jesus is like God. The scandal is that God is like Jesus.”
— Jonathan Storment, in “Everyday Idolatry: My God“
Have a wonderful week!