In short, because it makes us feel beautiful!
I asked a lot of fellow shimmy sisters to chime in on why they love bellydance and here are some answers I got...
"it makes me feel fantastically beautiful and great about myself! :-)"
"I am not a dowdy female."
"it helped me discover a part of myself that was dormant!"
"it empowers women to be more self accepting and celebrates joy of femininity, as we meditate with movement." <<< super stellar answer!!
The truth is, we all need to accept ourselves and feel comfortable in our skin and bellydance helps us do just that. It's a fact that someone is more attractive when they are confident and also when they let their inner inspiration and beauty shine through (see Owning Your Sexiness).
Bellydance teaches you to isolate and control every muscle in your body and with that comes an enormous sense of empowerment and freedom. Once the muscle memory takes over and the movements begin to click for you, I promise it will be in your blood and you'll be addicted forever!
I take this further and say bellydance also promotes a spirit of sisterhood, community and perpetual youth. No matter where you go, pretty much every country in the world (and every state in the U.S.) offers bellydance classes. For women it is a great way to make friends AND get exercise while also exploring femininity and working through self-esteem issues.
Every woman struggles with self esteem issues. For me it's my mid-section and by golly that's just the area that we bare for bellydance! Talk about putting your insecurities under a microscope. I'm not gonna lie, it's a continual struggle for me to bare my belly but it's also motivation for me to work on my fitness and also work on my attitude about myself. We all have different bodies - and every movement will look different on each lady.
We need to accept our nuances and embrace them and bellydancing in essence has really taught me how to do that.
I also mentioned perpetual youth and by that I mean that this art-form really does keep you young and keeps women joined together no matter what age. I know a woman in her 70s who can go back into a full back-bend while balancing a tray of lit candles on her head....
Then there is the still youthful Helena Vlahos who in her 60's still wows audiences with the belly-roll quarter flipping trick that landed her in the Guinness Book Of World Records. Talk about still sexy and exciting!
Bellydance has also become a unique form of self expression with the forms of fusion and creative costuming that have emerged over the years. Women are abandoning more traditional middle eastern costuming and adding aspects of their own flair and personality to their style.
What is interesting is that in middle eastern cultures, bellydancers are not necessarily respected women --- but we have Americanized it and made it an empowered art form.