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Designing Dancing Women (and Men)!

Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.
Women, in all their forms, are beautiful and celebration-worthy.

I’ve been having a great time designing new pieces for Butterfly Sundries’ Dancing Women Collection, several of which will be unveiled soon. But, it’s also been a very mind-bending experience. I started the collection knowing I wanted to feature diverse representations of beauty, including women with visible disabilities and a wide range of body types. I never expected that to be the easiest part of the design process.

The challenging part of the process, as it turns out, is choosing powerful dance representations and postures for the designs. As I began designing I realized that so many of the dance positions I learned as a child and can draw at the drop of the hat make women appear graceful… but somehow smaller. Many of them are overtly sexual (and while sexuality and sensuality are both good things, these things are not part of the focus of this collection). They make us take up less space. My quest has been to find and choose artistic representations which are fluid, graceful and still empowering. I want a woman to feel encouraged to fill the space she occupies with her own power and beauty.

The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!
The first Dancing Women Etched Cuff sold within less than 2 weeks!

By contrast, it’s also been an interesting process considering the possibility of exploring a customer’s request for expansion in the direction of Dancing Men designs. I never realized how little I’ve thought of what men look like when they’re dancing. Imagining them in body postures similar to the ones in the Dancing Women Cuff bracelet is counter-intuitive to me (I am embarrassed to admit that my first conceptualization was of men of all sizes and shapes in various body building poses- which then led me to question my own preconceptions and biases; my second thought was of a scene from the movie Hitch).

It’s amazing to me how the simple process of creating a line of socially-conscious jewelry which seeks to combat the bias of media depictions of beauty can be so enriching to me personally. I never realized that I’d adopted gender-role constructs surrounding dance, but- now that I recognize how I’ve internalized some of our cultural values- I look forward to the process of creating and adopting new, healthier, and more empowering constructs!

Meanwhile, you can kind find these designs- and many more- in Butterfly Sundries’ shop on Etsy!

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Introducing the Dancing Women Collection!

Butterfly Sundries’ new Dancing Women Collection consists of a number of Butterfly Sundries’ original jewelry designs celebrating the beauty of all women, including all of ages, sizes, shapes, races, sexual orientations or abilities. With the firm belief that ALL women are beautiful, Butterfly Sundries’ seeks to feature diverse representations of beauty in this collection- increasing the visibility and positive representations of often-ignored women.

This original Butterfly Sundries etched cuff features the silhouettes of beautiful women. Embracing the beauty of all body types and including women with physical disabilities- Butterfly Sundries is dedicated to empowering all women to dance.
This original Butterfly Sundries etched cuff features the silhouettes of beautiful women. Embracing the beauty of all body types and including women with physical disabilities- Butterfly Sundries is dedicated to empowering all women to dance.

While Butterfly Sundries’ original jewelry collections usually start with a charity to which a portion of the proceeds will be donated, The Dancing Woman Collection is a jewelry line without an official cause. The collection was inspired, initially, by the wonderful work done by a large 501c3 which, as part of one of their campaigns, used music and dancing to bring awareness to domestic violence issues. But, during the initial design phase, the collection evolved to become so much more.

I am, personally, passionate about a great number of issues. Media literacy is important to me and I strongly believe that representation matters. Seeing positive body representations of all shapes, sizes and abilities help to normalize and generate acceptance of all forms of beauty (many of which are often ignored or marginalized by our society).

My designs in this collection have been influenced by the work of  Jean Kilbourne (she has made a huge impact on my view of women in the media since I first became aware of her work in 2000; I highly recommend her Killing Us Softly videos if you ever get the chance to see them).  As a voluptuous woman, myself, I surround myself with information and the work of communities and non-profits which promote body positivity for all persons; these communities have also been inspirational in my designs. It was very important to me to create a space where, in these designs, positive visibility for women with disabilities was created (yes, I am one).

Women are beautiful, powerful and inspiring. Dancing, for me, is an act of beauty, strength and, sometimes, rebellion. Also, it is a way of giving oneself permission to fill space with one’s own beauty and self-expression. I would hope that every woman will embrace that powerful act.