Savannah Martin
May 06, 2015 12:30 pm

Let people speak anything they want, be yourself and do what makes you happy.” –Anurag Prakash Ray

Everyone has a hobby. Whether it’s soccer, drawing, reading, football, or knitting, there is no better feeling than doing something that makes you happy. I’ve been a dancer since I was three years old, and I’ve loved it every day of my life. But there will always be people who don’t understand that it’s not what you do, it’s what you feel while you’re doing it.

I have one sibling: My younger brother. He’s 12, making him four years younger than me. We’re not very similar, but there is one thing we have in common: We’ve never been good at sports. He tried softball and ended up not liking it much. He tried wrestling for a while and didn’t like that either (he’s far from aggressive, which is necessary in wrestling). But one thing that he has always loved, like his sister, is dance. He probably only did it in the beginning because I did it, but over the last six years he’s come to really love it. He’s done tap, acrobatics, hip hop, musical theatre, Irish, and jazz. So, long story short: My brother dances.

I’ve said this, and so many things similar to it , to so many people, and I’ve gotten so many different responses in return. From questioning looks to sexist remarks, I feel as if I’ve truly heard it all. I recently had an adult, who’s known my family for awhile, say to me “Does your brother still wrestle?” I kindly informed him that no, he didn’t. His response? “Oh, that’s a shame… How does your dad feel about that?”

I really don’t even need to explain all the problems with this. I was truly taken aback. How does my dad feel about that? My response was simple and quick. “He doesn’t care. As long as we’re happy and doing what we like, my dad really doesn’t care.” The family friend quickly came up with a lame excuse, but his opinion was obvious: It was weird that my brother’s hobby was dance. As uncomfortable as that was, though, I’ve to deal with even worse responses. Some people straight out say to me “Isn’t that girly?” and “Sure, but he only does tap and hip hop and stuff like that, right? He doesn’t do anything girly like ballet, right?”

Girly. That word kills me every time.

What makes ballet, and dance in general, so girly? Men have been dancing since dance was invented. Let’s not forget that in every major ballet, there are multiple male roles. Tap dancing was huge in the early 1900s. Swing dancing and ballroom dancing has always required two people, traditionally a man and a woman. Hip hop is dominated by men (let’s change that, ladies!). So why does this stereotype that dance is “girly” seem to be imprinted in everyone’s mind?

My brother is human. He gets upset when people are mean to him. Thankfully, no one has ever said anything directly to him about how dancing is “girly,” but if they did, I could only imagine how that could affect him.

“Girly” needs to stop being an insult. And people need to stop shaming other people for what they enjoy just because it doesn’t fit their preconceived notions of what that person should enjoy. If dance helps my brother express himself, then I’m happy. If it makes his day or life better, then I’m happy. Heck, if it makes him happy, then I’m happy! Nobody should question his happiness.

My message to the world is this: Do what makes you love life! Don’t criticize people for what they like or stereotype them/their interests. Please, please, please let people live their own lives.

“Ultimately, it’s a really brave thing to do what makes you happy as opposed to what the norm, or the social norm is, and that’s a very important thing for people to remember…” – Mia Wasikowska

(Images from here, here, and here.)