“Fake it til you make it…”
At least once a week for the last two years, I have said those words along with EMKFIT (aka Emily Thorne) at the start of her HIIT dance workout YouTube videos. And at least once a week for the last two years, I have lived those words as I’ve flailed, booty popped, dropped it low, and did a dozen other dance moves that I never would have allowed myself to even attempt before—despite almost 30 years of formal dance training.
You see, some of EMKFIT’s choreography is designed to help you feel strong. But some of the choreography is designed to help you feel sexy. And a lot of the choreography is designed to help you feel both at the same time.
And I have felt strong before. I have felt powerful and pretty. Maybe even beautiful every so often when the makeup and wardrobe is just right.
That was a word I never associated with myself—and a word I was led to believe no one would ever associate with me.
I came of age at the peak of power for brands like Victoria’s Secret, which taught women of my generation that sex appeal was stored in your curves (but also could be lost as soon as those curves became “too much”—we all were fighting a losing battle between being too much and not enough). And for a young woman who barely filled out her A-cup bras, it was all too easy for me to feel like I was stuck in a child’s body, like I could never really own my power as a woman just because of the numbers and letters on a tag on a piece of lace and wire.
When you grow up hearing the phrase “Real women have curves,” you start to wonder if that means you’re not a real woman because you’re more rectangle than hourglass. And you start to carry yourself accordingly.
You make yourself smaller because you think your insides have to match your outsides. You hold back when you dance because you don’t want to look awkward trying to be sexy. You stay on the sidelines while other people get hit on in bars. You ignore what you want and need as an adult woman because you don’t believe you’re allowed to have those wants and needs existing in a body that looks like yours.
I grew up in Catholic schools. The majority of my sex education came from fan fiction—and no, I’m not exaggerating. Confident sexuality and ownership of your body and its desires were things to be ashamed of—not things to aspire to. Coupled with a body I often felt ashamed of and embarrassed by, it was the perfect recipe for pushing down that part of my identity as a woman until I barely even saw myself as one when I looked in the mirror.
That was the place I was in when I started EMKFIT’s videos in 2020—interested in the dance fitness aspect as a way to get better cardio in without a gym but so afraid to look at myself trying anything even remotely sexy that I would work out in the basement so nobody else would see me—and especially so I wouldn’t see myself in any mirrors.
Interestingly enough, it was that freedom away from scrutinizing myself in a mirror—the life I led for nearly three decades as a competitive dancer—that put me on the path toward accepting my body for everything it is and everything it can be. Without that ability to judge myself, flailing and laughing and sweating and trying new ways of moving my body became something fun and not something to fear. That’s the entire ethos of EMKFIT—that fitness should be about feeling good. Looking good can be a nice bonus, but the mental and emotional part matters most. How you feel about yourself is the key that changes everything—not numbers on a scale or clothing label or smartwatch.
So I faked it until I made it—until one day I found myself doing a JLo HIIT dance workout in front of a mirror and genuinely loving how my body looked as it moved. It looked strong. It looked sure of itself.
It looked sexy.
I looked sexy.
Nothing about the physical appearance of my body has changed. I still have trouble filling out my A-cups. I’m still more rectangle than hourglass. I’m still petite in every possible way.
But at the same time, so much about how I exist in my body has changed. I may be petite, but I’m not small. I take up space now thanks to two years of star jumps. I move my hips without holding back now thanks to two years of figure eights. I feel at home in my body now in a way I never have—because it feels like a home for who I really am, a woman who knows that how things feel is way more important than how they look.
How I feel is way more important than how I look.
And with every hair flip and jiggle and corkscrew, I went from faking a sex appeal I never felt allowed to have because of my background and my body to embracing an inner self-confidence that feels brave and bold and—dare I say it?—sexy as hell.
Because I know now that feeling grown and powerful and sexy isn’t about measurements or how many guys stare at your chest when you go out or what other people say about your body. It’s about how you carry yourself—how you love yourself.
And it’s about having fun in your body—one wrong and strong step through life at a time.
Sweetie! Love this.
So yeah — too much and not enough? I know that feeling. I think too many of us know that feeling. We need to share journeys like this because it’s too easy to think that we’re alone in feeling too much and not enough. And it takes time to feel comfortable in who we are. So, thanks for sharing your journey on this. It gives me so much joy to think of you happily dancing away, feeling good about yourself. ALL of yourself.
Gonna go do a fun work out now.
Tempest!!! The actual happy screech I let out when I saw your username probably alarmed my neighbors, but oh well. 😉
Sharing my journey with this made me feel so free and good, and I hope it can help everyone remember that we are exactly right as we are right now—inside and out. And I hope you have the most fun workout ever!