Dancefloor drama V: an irrelevant question of weight

Recently, I’ve started to learn how to lead as a dancer. I’ve a long ways to go, I only know about 6 moves, but what a thrill. Following is one thing: it is about embracing vulnerability and connection. But leading? Leading is different. Is it accepting to be seen – poor technique, undeveloped musicality, errors in judgment and timing. It is accepting the precious gift of vulnerability offered to me by my dance partners. It is the opportunity to treat them with kindness and patience whilst laying bare my own imperfections. Leading is self-expression and creativity and team work. Every dance is different and wonderful. I. LOVE. IT.

You can see it in my concentration & smiles.

In Paris, I took a semba workshop with one of Teacher’s besties.  Cultural difference #1: Semba is not as popular in France as it is in other kizomba dancing countries like Canada, Portugal, Netherlands, Italy or the UK. There were way more girls (followers) than guys (leaders), so I switched my role from follower to leader to help even out the pairings. Cultural difference #2: female leaders are an anomaly in France.  I definitely got a few stares, curious questions from my female dance partners, and that night, more than one dude commented, “Oh so you are back to being a female, now?” #verytraditionalgenderroles I didn’t have the energy to debate with any of them, or to point out that originally in Angola,semba is not a gender specific dance. It is most commonly danced between men and woman, but it can be danced between children, men and men, women and women, youth and senior citizen, whomever. It is a partner dance. Partners. 2 individuals. I ain’t about to stand around waiting for the better part of an hour for a dude to ask me to dance, when I can lead and dance with anybody I want!

(Aside, I survived leading in an intermediate class taught by Fabricio. This guy. Yeah! #majorvictory).

As is customary in class, the leaders practiced the step combo being taught by cycling through the followers. This allows for socialization and better learning opportunities: it is easier to identify common mistakes and strengths when the number of people one is practicing on is high.

Fabricio was teaching us a complicated move: swipe the girl’s leg, and make her do a very slow spin on one bent leg, which can only successfully happen if the leader properly supports her and keeps her center of gravity immobile. To the extent the leader messes that up, the follower will have no choice but to shift her weight onto the leader to avoid face-planting. Tricky. I flubbed up the move with my first few partners, much to our mutual enjoyment and giggles. By girl 4 I was getting the handle of it. By girl 6, I almost had swag. Girl 7 went smoothly, but she was very tense, which made it a little harder for me to execute, but no big deal – I would be tense too, trusting a stranger to not trip me, drop me AND spin me! Fabricio stopped the class to give some clarification. Girl 7 used that unexpected break to whisper to me:

Do you mind, I hope this isn’t an awkward question, but could you tell me, for real, honestly…

When you dance with me, am I heavier than other girls? Do you find me hard and heavy to dance with? You can tell me, I want to know. Do you enjoy dancing with me like with other girls?

She looked so embarrassed. Ashamed.

A rush of reactions, all jumbled:

  • Poor darling.
  • I wanna punch wtv loser(s) made her think she is fat and heavy. Girl had the same curvy shape as me, just a wee bit shorter. She weighed 145lbs tops, 5ft6-5ft7.
  • Why is she asking me this now, when Fabricio is talking? How on earth can I properly answer this, without disrespecting him by talking in class?!
  • How long has she been waiting to find someone she feels comfortable enough to ask this question to? It must be because I am a girl, so she feels less scared to ask me this. I hope I don’t fuck this moment up

I whispered back my honest answer that, no, she is FINE. She is a good follower, maybe a bit tense, but the heaviness of the follower, ESPECIALLY for this tricky spin, is a function of the leader’s ability to keep her center of gravity stable, not a function of her weight. And besides, I’ve danced with women that weigh well over 200lbs, and they can feel lighter, easier to lead, more responsive than some cute little twig bombshell hottie. Fabricio turned to look our way, so I kept quiet so as to not further disrupt the class. I could have said more, but she left class before I could find her and wrap up our convo.

I am by no means a small girl (5ft9, 160-165lbs/74-75kgs on a slim week). I’ve battled my body insecurities for years (here and here). I am taller than all my dance partners, even the ones that are not wee:

My bigger proportions (weight and height) has been problematic in the team – I am limited in who I can partner with for fear of injuring the guys’ backs on some of the lifts. It shouldn’t upset me, but it definitely makes me self conscious. At the same time, I can’t exactly fault them for occasionally struggling with catching a moving airborn target of 165lbs. Obvi, in those cases, they prefer dancing with a twig bombshell hottie. #backinjuriesaretheworst

I wish I could have convinced her that my enjoyment is not based on the girl’s weight but on her ability to embrace the connection. That its a question of vulnerability. Something that I struggle with too as a follower, and that is ok.

I wish I could have told her that any dude that tried to blame her for being difficult to dance with – specifically on her weight – was a jackass, a loser with an ego too fragile to own up to his failings as a leader, so he had to go crush her self-esteem instead. It is ALWAYS the leader’s fault. It is the LEADER that must communicate, guide, adapt to the follower. I wish she could take a class with Teacher, because Teacher goes ape-shit when he hears of some of the bullshit “his girls” are told by dudes on the dancefloor. Teacher’s famous piece of advice:

Leaders, if you bust out a move with a girl on the dancefloor and she doesn’t get it, ok, maybe you messed it up, you weren’t clear, your timing was a little off. Take a time out, calm yourself, get that adrenaline under control, do a few a basic steps. If you bust out that move a 2nd time, and she doesn’t get it again, ok maybe she is a beginner or a bad follower. So do a little 1-2 step, get her to relax and smile. That’s your job.

But leaders, if you then bust out that SAME move a third time in the same song… you’re just an asshole.

Dancing is about making sure your partner is having a good time, not about you going on an ego trip and putting your need to succeed a move ahead of your partner’s skills and enjoyment.

Nothing to do about weight in there.

I wish I’d told her she was beautiful.

I wish I could have told her to own her ginga.

I hope she believed me.


This is true love

I love cheese.

I’ve fallen in love with every water (and waitress) that has come by to offer to sprinkle cheese on my Italian meal. And by sprinkle, my meal is cheese with a side of Italian food ingredients.

Cheese is the glue that holds my life together 🧀 (follow @daddyissues_)

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Today. Valentine’s day. I hate Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is the reason I started blogging. I decided to ignore the whole concept. Didn’t bring chocolate to the office, dressed in black (and purple), just a normal day in the life of Vanilla.


My junior knocked on my cubi-office, and handed me a aluminum foil rectangle.

From one single girl, to another… Happy Valentine’s Day.


She got me a grilled cheese sandwich. If that is not true love, I don’t know what is.

I did say I have the best team ever? As if I needed further proof.


Holiday diet vs January diet 

After 10 days in Paris, and 2 weeks of holiday festivities where I drank on average 1 bottle of wine/day, consumed a scandalous amount of jellybeans, chocolate and happiness, I had put on 10 lbs.


1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 TEN (!) pounds.

(As Teacher so kindly put it, when he saw me, “Damn, girl, I can see the weight in your cheeks! And your legs, but especially in your cheeks! You weren’t lying when you said you got chubbier.” Bro, stick to dancing, and shhhhh. Don’t speak. Like, ever.)

So, January 2nd, back at work. New year, new me, time to detox, and be productive. I decide to cut out alcohol (primarily because it is socially frowned upon to be drunk while closing out the books for the year) and eat a salad, because rumor has it that vegetables are not a bad thing.

I lasted 48 hours.

January 4th, I woke up and my kidneys hurt. Badly.

Its a well known mantra that you should listen to your body. So Jan 4th at night, I had pizza. Jan 5th, I woke up feeling better. So for supper I had wine and a burger and onion rings. And yesterday, Jan 6th, I was tip top shape. So I drank a bottle of wine at supper with my former roomie Kirsten.

Methinks losing the holiday poundage might be a very gradual process. I wouldn’t want to trigger kidney failure, for the sake of being slim. #priorities #wineisbae #pizzatoo

The struggle is real…

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Well. I forgot this still happened. Part II.

Yesterday I had another date with Young Boy (YB). You can read Part I here: it gives a little context about my mindset going into said date. A low-key affair, as we were both burnt from a long week at work. I like low-key dates because they often result in good conversations; useful in the getting-to-know-one-another stage, regardless of where that stage is headed (dating, naked gymnastics, friend zone).

Convo flowed freely, possibly because we have very different lifestyles and tastes. Even interests that we share, we approach from very different perspectives. For example, I exercise primarily because I need to remain mentally and emotionally stable: my appearance is bonus. For the longest time, despite exercising 4-6 times a week, I was rather thick (80+kilos), because of my emotional eating. Sure, that self-destructive habit made me ashamed, but thanks to my former therapist, I still felt some pride in investing the necessary time to take care of my brain and happiness. YB exercises because he feels it is a duty to remain healthy: anyone who lets him/herself go is lazy and signals to the world that they don’t respect themselves and don’t mind being a drain on society by clogging up the healthcare system with avoidable health issues. OYE. On so many levels. Yes, agreed that being overweight is linked to avoidable health issues. No, disagreed that it is a matter of laziness and lack of self-respect: those might be factors, but adulting is fucking hard, and the emotional and mental scars of life often translate into bad eating habits. Also? Life is a balancing act of conflicting priorities. To surmise a person’s whole character from their appearance?! OYE. Yet… I am not surprised. Many people share his point of view – hence my concern with maintaining my newfound #skinnybitch and #bangingbod status.

We started comparing Instagram profiles, and sharing the backstories of some of our favorite pics. I showed him a pic of me and Coach, after a particularly good, sweaty booté workout at the gym – seemed like a good choice, especially after our convo about exercising.

That’s one big black guy. How much does he bench/squat? Cute pic. Wait, you don’t fool around with black guys, do you? You DO?! Oh.” [Accompanied by a slightly nonplussed look.]

Oh, indeed.

Remember how my emotions are overwhelming, I can’t always properly identify what I am feeling, and as a result I have slightly delayed reactions? I had NO PROBLEM identifying my anger, and the only difficulty I had was biting back the impulse to reply,

Yeah, going back has been tough, you’re my trial run, white boy, and honestly, I don’t know that I am ready to make the switch back. You haven’t sold me on the concept.

SO ANGRY. Because the question didn’t revolve around me fooling around with guys. No. Specifically, it was concerned with black guys. My willingness to expose my body to black guys merits judgment. What, boy, bothers you so much about the black part of the guys I have fooled around with? Lets break down some of the most common aspects of their reputation:

  • big dicks: so is this a sizing issue, boy? Worried you can’t measure up? That I have been stretched out and am a loosey goosey?
  • into dirtier, nastier sex: well, for someone who has boasted about having a broad range of naked gymnastics interests, surely my possible exposure to similar concepts (7.5!!) can’t bother you, can it? Or are you worried I’ll call your bluff?
  • aren’t legendary for their monogamy: worried that I might be crawling with diseases? Dunno if you understand how safe sex works, but it isn’t related to the moral code of the person you bang. It is only related to whether or not the dude wears a raincoat. Worried that means that I might not be the greatest at the whole concept of monogamy? Because obvi my character is influenced by sexual osmosis. I cannot maintain my own moral compass if there is a penis around.
  • can actually cook and dance: nothing to be said, really.
  • are BLACK.

Its the last one that bothers me. Because while I am sure the other items probably were part of his reaction, its the BLACK part that really was the sticking point. So shocking that a white girl like me might actually view black males as humans worthy of my attention, time and occasionally body… the same as I do white boys. Or Arab boys (only because I find the possibility of being blown up during sex to be extremely exciting, duh). Or any other male that is alive, taller than me and funny.

Unconscious racism. Soooooooooo sexy.

There won’t be a part III.


My booté saga: a chapter at the office

Not the point of this post – part 1

Clothes. I like how they can be a form of self-expression. I also like analyzing why I put on wtv outfit I do in the morning: sometimes it reveals stuff on my mind, or a mood, that I wasn’t fully aware of. For example, last week, when discussing vanity, I put on that outfit because I felt it was a perfect mix of professional, sexy, fashionable and stylish (those are NOT the same thing!) and made my facial features pop. That was the version of myself I felt needed emphasis for a day with the auditors and a board meeting at night: during those meetings my intelligence would be on display anyhow so I wanted to highlight the other, more appealing aspects of myself to balance everything out. In contrast, earlier this week, I scheduled a meeting with CFO-boss that was likely to be very tense: I needed to communicate 1-2 messages that he wouldn’t be delighted about, and I had a vested interest in convincing him to endorse my proposed action plans. What did I wear? Something very corporate? No, my boss knows I am smart AF, that is why he hired me, no need to emphasize that. Something sexy? No, he’d find that displaced, no sense in unconsciously irritating him. Something very fashion forward? No, he is an accountant. So I wore work slacks, and a baby pink finely knit sweater – the kind that is office-appropriate but makes you wanna hug the person. Simple makeup, glasses, and an outfit to highlight that I am a cute, adorable girl. I chose to dress in such a way as to offset my strongly-worded arguments and my intense emotions, as those would be abrasive enough for my boss. It worked.

Not the point of this post – part 2

My team is young. Young enough that they are all on Facebook, and we are Facebook friends, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (We are also coworker friends, but as everybody knows, if it isn’t on Facebook, it isn’t real). As such, they sometimes read this blog. The things they know about me! Makes me blush, except it doesn’t, bc #vulnerability, y’all. Anyhow, they know both this story about my dismay about my shrinking butt, and this epic prank by Coach Dr. Booté. A good story is a good story, even if it makes me sound like a vain, superficial twit. Bc I am totally not a vain, superficial twit, no way. I am a vain, superficial, nerdy SMART twit. Obvi.

The point of this post

Yesterday at work, I was checking out my outfit in the mirrors of the ladies washroom. I had a meeting in late afternoon with a supplier, and I’d chosen an super corporate dress for that purpose: previous meetings had left me with the impression that the supplier did not respect me to the extent I desired, thinking of me more as a girly girl than as a business woman to negotiate with. I was evaluating the severity of my outfit, distracted by the excellent workmanship of the cut (discreetly flattering, of course, because #bougie), when my youngest team member walked in. She pointed to me checking out my profile and consoled me with a smirk,

Vanilla, if you are worried about your butt being flat in that dress, I promise you it’s not.

Consider this a free lesson in How to Get Your Staff to Respect You 101.

#onpoint #howwellsheknowsme #hmph #thisvainsuperficialnerdysmarttwitisalsoademandingslavedriver #iswear #irunatightship #butmyshiphasbooty #teambootyaccountants

Booté post afterword

A little video of my latest attempt at mimicking a Pussycat Doll.


Learning to enjoy being a girl

Reared in a strict Christian household, I was taught that pride is THE biggest of all vices, and vanity was more trivial, obnoxious and easily spotted – a transparent window into person’s character, and indicative of poor judgment and priorities (I notice a certain irony, now, that it is by appealing to my vanity that I was dissuaded from ever exhibiting any). As an only child, with an invalid mother, I grew up without any role models of how to be a girly girl. Sure, my mother would talk of how in her youth she loved the theatre of clothes, and passed a lot of her knowledge on to me, but it remained something that was not deserving of time and effort. I internalized the message that caring about my appearance (other than to avoid appearing slovenly/underdressed/vulgar/sexy) was indicative of poor priorities and a lack of meaning and purpose in my life. Worse, given that I was a woman in a man’s world, it was imperative that I earn people’s respect for my intelligence and character, not for something as transient and superficial as my appearance.


Early on in my career, I learned the lesson that people respond better to someone who is well put together. Dressing for the part (of smart, competent, reliable, engaging career woman) was necessary to ease the social interactions that are so key in the business world. But that wasn’t  vanity, that was a practical recognition of behavioural norms. So I revamped my wardrobe transforming myself into a power accountant. Still, I avoided spending unnecessary time on my appearance, other than investing the time necessary to shop for well-cut flattering clothes and good haircuts. #couldntbebothered

In the past 24 months, I’ve undergone a bumpy journey to body acceptance. My (former) therapist prescribed me with the obligation of never going more than 48 hours without getting a minimum of 30mins of exercise. He stressed that it wasn’t a matter of breaking a sweat, but of moving enough to trigger the endorphins my brain so needed to counteract its corrosive tricks, like going for a walk outdoors. And so was born the notion that I should commit to doing things that make me feel better – that I must be an agent (to some extent) of my happiness and well-being. From that point on, I made sure to never do less than 3 intense workouts per week. The link between my emotional and mental equilibrium and the consistency of my workouts was apparent almost immediately. My dietary habits also improved: I applied the same notion that I should eat what I genuinely wanted to eat to make me feel good. Sometimes that could mean chocolate and wine for the soul, French fries and pizza for the fun of it, or salad and chicken because I hate the bloaty, gassy feeling that comes from eating unhealthily for more than 2-3 consecutive meals. Unsurprisingly, I lost a fair bit of weight and got in shape. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing:

Then, I had a second watershed moment: accepting the sexy. Through dance, I’ve started to enjoy my body as a source of appreciation to myself and others.

I can finally admit that I LIKE having a bangin’ bod – something I never believed was within my reach. I LIKE that people admire it: I enjoy it, I’ve worked hard for it, I’ve gone through so much with it, I’m proud of it. I LIKE feeling good about my appearance, and will continue to take the time and effort to help my body and my brain be the best versions possible. I LIKE putting together an outfit that is flattering and makes me feel like whatever version of myself I feel like portraying. Always? No. There are plenty of days every week where I roll out of bed, pull on wtv is easily accessible/clean and forget to put on mascara. But there are plenty of days where I enjoy taking an hour getting ready for work and spend the day feeling like a million bucks. Maybe because I am so confident in my intelligence and my character, I no longer feel that has to be the first thing people notice about me. Any person who deals with me for longer than 30 minutes and does not realize I am smart, pretty awesome and beyond competent at what I do is merely demonstrating their sub-par observation skills.

I tell myself this isn’t vanity, as my happiness is not dependent on others’ perception in myself: I delight in my body and mind. Is it pride, the mother of all sins? I sure hope not. It feels like joy and peace, which is such a blessing after years of anxiety, paranoid brain and depression. I have no intention of fighting these new-found gleeful feels.


Dr. Booté strikes again

My dance school is conveniently located on the 2nd floor of the same building as my boxing gym. I sometimes stop by the gym on my way to/from dance to say hi to all my friends. Last night was such a time. I was almost 2 hours late for a social hosted by my school (thats code for a big salsa/kizomba/dancehall dance party that goes from 9pm-3am. It’s like dancing at a club except with none of the disadvantages: less crowded, better music, not a single underage, underdressed shrill teenage girl in sight, no lineups at the bar, the men actually know how to and want to dance, and aren’t there ogle the women). Despite it being close to 11pm, I figured my boxing crew would still be at the gym, as Friday evenings are when the competitive team spars, and then sits in the gym past closing time and drinks 1-3 bottles of vodka and rum. What? Hydration is an important part of any athlete’s regimen. Obvi.

As I walked down the stairway into the gym, I could hear the bursts of Coach and my former teammates laughter. I ran to them, excited, only to be met with a slightly awkard silence. “Oh hi Vanilla. Ummm, we were just talking about you. Well, we were talking about you and your shrinking ass.” Really, we are still stuck on this? “Of course we are still stuck on this. Vanilla, you had the nicest butt in the gym! Boxers would get distracted and forget to keep their guard up. It was perfection. Now… Now it’s nothing special. It’s meh. DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW UPSETTING THIS IS TO ALL OF US GIRLS AND GUYS ALIKE?!!!!” My teammates were staring at me tipsily earnestly, willing me to understand the gravity of the situation. I glanced over at Coach, his eyes were twinkling not-tipsily at the absurdity of the situation.

Here I was, thinking that they’d all be happy to see me, and maybe compliment me on my weightloss & sexy outfit. Nope. Apparently not. What is a sexy outfit where there is lost ass?

In a mild huff, I left them to their booze and went upstairs to dance my ass-grief away. And dance I did, for although there were less men than women present, I was never at a loss for a partner. Hmph. Some men, apparently, either thought I was a phenomenal dancer (which I soon will be, at this rate #modest) or else they found me quite to their taste. Which makes sense since I looked fab. Did I mention #modest?

After an hour and a half of dancing, a dude approached me and started talking to me. I assumed he was trying to flirt, which was acceptable to me because he was taller than me, had good shoulders and a nice smile #standards.

Can I be totally honest with you? You are REALLY fine, like so fine, but you know what would just make you tops? If you had just a bit more ass. No, I’m serious, don’t take this the wrong way, because seriously you are beautiful, and I was watching you dance, you got the moves, but the only thing stopping you from being perfect is your ass. You need just a little bit more.

You know when you have too many thoughts in your head, that your body is incapable of any reaction? I was completely bemused at the statistical unlikelihood of me having the same conversation twice within 2 hours, once with a stranger. Also, I had an overwhelming urge to collapse into giggles which distracted me from my efforts to memorize Stranger’s exact words – it was hard to ignore the bright flashing “BLOG CONTENT THIS IS BLOG CONTENT” sign hanging over us. And throughout all this, I wondered if it was at all possible that he could know Coach; but then my politically correct brain pointed out that just because Stranger was black and Coach is black, that did not provide me with enough reason to assume they knew each other… racial profiling much? Coach does not know EVERY black person in Montreal. (My politically correct brain forgot about this incident, which supports the theory that Coach does in fact know every black person in Montreal.)

Stranger stopped talking, misinterpreting my slack features (caused by my short circuiting brain) as a sign that I was about to lose my shit. He hesitantly asked me, “Wait… you ARE the girl that knows Coach, right?! Oh God, please tell me you train with Coach.” Stranger’s panic mild worry might be my favorite moment in the whole prank. Because prank indeed it was. Coach knew Stranger was going to the same social as I, and convinced him to do this.


And that is why I love Coach Dr. Booté. Only he can produce simultaneous feelings of rage and admiration for a prank well executed.

P.S. Once Stranger was reassured that I wouldn’t murder him, we danced for a couple of songs. Guy’s got the moves.