For the last several years we've celebrated Galentine's Day with an event in our shop, whether it was a collaboration with Nothing in Between Nail Salon
doing fun Valentine's Day or working with Elodie Naturals
on custom lip-tints and writing cute love notes to our girl gang with the help of Diana from Teluna Life
While this year we weren't able to put together an event for you in the shop, due to Covid-19, we wanted to open up a conversation about the topic of body positivity and practicing self love.
We had the pleasure of getting to chat with dancer, choreographer and teacher, Morgan Gingerich, who we recently shot for our Valentine’s Day capsule. Not only beautiful on the outside, Morgan shares her inner beauty as she candidly shares her experience with her body, being bi-racial, and her views on love. We hope Morgan’s story inspires you to celebrate your beautiful body, practice self-love, and embrace diversity.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you got into Dancing?
I’m Morgan Gingerich, I’m 24 years old and I recently graduated from Towson University with a BFA in Dance. I started dancing at a local studio that newly opened in my town, and all my cousins and I (5 of us!) ended up dancing there all together. Dance and performing was truly a family affair, and that instantly bonded me to it. I danced in middle and high school as well and met some amazing teachers and mentors along the way. I graduated in December and am lucky to have just accepted a job teaching dance at a middle school in the same county I grew up in! It feels so great to start my teaching career in the same place I started my dancing career and hope to be just as good of a mentor to my future students as I had growing up. I have also had the absolute pleasure of co-directing and co-founding Annapolis, MD’s first contemporary dance company late last year, The Company @ MC3.
2. As a dancer, choreographer, and teacher-can you share your experience with how you personally or your students practice body positivity? Any challenges or obstacles you’ve personally faced or seen others face? Has dancing affected your body image?
Dancers are constantly focused on their body. Whether it’s checking your alignment in the mirror during class, re-watching rehearsal footage to correct your mistakes, or, unfortunately, comparing yourself to other dancers. Our bodies are the way we express our art and communicate, so there’s no way to avoid this. Dance can also be relentless in the sense that some styles or companies are looking for a very specific body; that can include a certain height, range of flexibility, weight, or even eye color. I’ve seen great dancers get turned away from jobs because the person auditioning next to them was taller and blonder, and therefore fit the part better. They were both equally talented, but unfortunately only one had the look that the casting team was looking for. In college my dance department had a great motto that I love to teach my students: “Dance is for everybody, and every body.” Every body is valid in the dance world, and you can find success no matter what you look like or what your body is capable of.
3. What do you think it really means to love your body and how do you practice self-love and body positivity?
In order to really love your body, you need to be in love with every inch of it. Stretch marks, acne, cellulite, or stray hairs included. Every body is unique and embracing the things that make you different will make you feel that much more special. I personally practice body positivity and self-love by being patient with myself, without playing myself. Giving myself grace without completely falling out of my routines or into an unhealthy mindset. I’ve made morning and night routines that set my body up for success throughout the day (meditation, yoga, and journaling, to start!) and those have really helped me to strengthen my personal body positivity.
4. While we were photographing you, we captured some of your tattoos, and we know that tattoos tell very personal stories. Can you share the stories behind your tattoos and what inspired you to choose them?
I love tattoos and other body modifications so I’m excited to answer this question. We only have one body to live in, so we might as well make it look as cool as possible :) Tattoos can carry a lot of meaning or be chosen to represent a very special story for you... or it can simply be a tattoo of a strawberry because you like strawberries. A few of my tattoos have special meaning, and a few are just there because I thought they’d look good, and that is the magic of tattoos. My red “5678” is a nod to dance, with the “...5, 6, 7, 8” count in that dancers use to set themselves up in the music.
I have a domino with skulls as the dots on my left elbow. My extended family has played dominos together every week for as long as I can remember. I got that domino on Friday the 13th, a special discount day at most tattoo shops, with my sorority little Loren. The skulls show the number 13 for that reason. That small tattoo and the day that I got it holds a lot of meaning and memory for me. On the back of my neck is the line symbol for the Aquarius horoscope.
I’m an Aquarius (my birthday was on the 7th!) and an Aquarius sun, moon, Venus, and Neptune, and I love learning about astrology, so I figured it would be a great choice for my very first tattoo.
5. Perhaps now more than ever, women face immense pressure to have a certain body type. Can you share any advice on how to be comfortable in your own skin and to love your body?
Something that really changed my mindset on how I look at my body was coming to the realization that there is probably someone out there in the world who thinks you have the most flawless, perfect body, and they would love to switch places with you. I think that is true for everyone and can trickle into a lot of different aspect of our lives. If you’re ever wishing for something you don’t have, 9 times out of 10 someone else is wishing to be in your shoes.
6. With Black History Month and Black Lives Matter being so important, especially right now, can you share your experience with being bi-racial? How can we continue to make progress with embracing and celebrating diversity?
As a half black, half white woman, I grew up constantly having to choose. Choose if I was going to wear my hair curly or straight (as both required hours-long styling by mother, a literal saint). Choose if I was going to mark off “White” or “African-American” in the race section on forms that didn’t allow both. Choose how I was going to act that day, in order to relate more to my friends who were white versus those who were black. The experience that a lot of mixed people speak about, being too black for one group of people or too white for another group is 100% true and still follows me around to this day. Luckily, my mother always taught me to be myself. Not my white self, not my black self, just myself. While I didn’t always understand what she meant, the last few years have really called for me to tap into being myself. Especially in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement was finally really heard and seen by the majority of the country. With a strong group of friends and family supporting me, I used a majority of last year to share resources and raise money. We can continue to embrace diversity by being open-minded. We can continue to celebrate diversity by listening to and highlighting those who are in the minority. Sometimes all people need is the platform with which to share their work or speak their voice. Any time you have the chance to give that to someone, you should go for it.
7. Can you share your thoughts on love?
I hate to be cliché, but I’m going to go there: I love love. It can be in the form of a friend, family member, or significant other. I love the idea that everyone has a special person for them out in the world. I also believe that people should have the right to love whomever they choose, and think the world thrives off of “different” relationships. Whether that means same-sex partners, a multi-racial relationship, or something entirely different, we should all be on the lookout for love whenever and wherever we least expect it.