Thursday night, I took a little drive up to Oakland for the launch party of Your Body Raks. It was important to me to support them because they are not only following a dream, but they are using that dream to create a better world. That is something that I would also love to do. I am very excited for them and I have to tell you, dear reader, about it.
Raks Africa is comprised of two ladies, Tammy Johnson and Etang Inyang. They are an award winning belly dance duo that are based out of Oakland, CA.
When I first became aware of them, I was blown away. I was just like everyone else who thought that belly dancers were wispy women who wore sheer genie pants and bras and veils all the while shaking themselves around the room attempting to entice the eyes of men. While every bit as beautiful as the stereotypical belly dancer, these stunning women have hearts and souls that match. In July of 2010, I was sitting in the audience of an event called Big Moves – Go Big or Go Home. The whole night was about shattering the stereotypes that dancers were all thin and the variety of styles in the show was fantastic to see. I think what drew me in to Raks Africa’s performance, which was my favorite, was their very visible joy and love of dance.
I became a fan instantly.
Being in the performing arts, I am well aware of the pressures put on everyone, but women especially, that one must be super thin or super beautiful in order to become something in this industry. We are led to believe the airbrushed pictures of models are what we are supposed to strive to be like. That if we are even the slightest bit fat, then we are automatically hideous or unlovable or unmarketable.
But before me, these two fabulous women were shaking and shimmying and having a ball, comfortable in their own skin and proud of their bodies. While I may not be trained in belly dance, I can tell when people have dance training and these ladies have it!
The goal of Your Body Raks is combat the constant body image bullying that is on display everywhere you look. The use of belly dance to build confidence in women and girls of every size, color, or background mixed with a safe environment to learn self acceptance and love will have an incredible positive impact on the individual.
I HIGHLY encourage you all to check out YourBodyRaks.com and look at the videos and learn about Tammy and Etang. And if you are lucky enough to be in the Oakland area, take a class!
These women are such an inspiration for what they are doing, and I take my hat off to them and wish them the absolute best I possibly can wish for anyone. I can’t even say aloud without choking up, how important I think their work is.
Rak on, ladies!!!
Your biggest cheerleader!!